Three outside linebackers did not practice today as the Dolphins practiced in front of fans for the final time this season.
Yes, Matt Roth missed again so his agent Drew Rosenhaus's stated hopes Roth would return to practice this week seem dashed. Yes, I know, the Dolphins practice again this afternoon but I just don't see him strapping it up for that work if he missed work only hours earlier. A groin, Roth's mysterious injury, does not heal that quickly. Anyway, more on him in a moment.
Joey Porter missed practice today. He rode the bike most of practice because of what coach Tony Sparano called a sore toe. "He's really fine," Sparano said. "It's just sore."
Sparano would not predict if Porter would return to work this afternoon. "We'll see what he does this afternoon," the coach said.
Jason Taylor was excused from the morning workout for personal reasons related to a family illness. Sparano said he didn't know if Taylor would be back this afternoon or tomorrow or what. He said he believed Taylor would be available for the Carolina preseason game. A text message to Taylor's agent Gary Wichard has not been returned.
So that left Cameron Wake and Quentin Moses and Charlie Anderson getting a ton of snaps in practice today. Anderson and Moses got the first-team snaps. Wake worked with the second team. It's good. They need the work.
Left guard Justin Smiley missed practice Wednesday with what Sparano said was a sore ankle on his surgically repaired leg from last season. But he was back today and was none the worse for wear.
Sparano addressed the decision to terminate CB Eric Green's contract. He said there simply was "not enough separation between the veteran player and the young players. To me, let's see the young players. Let the young players play."
That is a good philosophy, but the fact also is Green's problems involved too much separation. Too much separation between him and wide receivers he was supposed to be covering.
Sparano pretty much dismissed the idea of bringing in a replacement for Green to fill the roster spot. Instead he said, the void will allow younger players such as Vontae Davis and Will Billingsley and Joey Thomas and Jason Allen to get more practice repetitions.
Speaking of playing time, Sparano said Will Allen will be scheduled to play much more Saturday versus Carolina than he did in the preseason-opener versus Jacksonville. Jason Allen, who played almost exclusively as a nickel cornerback versus Jacksonville, is expected to get more work in practice and perhaps in the game as a corner in the base defense.
Back to Roth for a moment. It is increasingly clear that the Dolphins are approaching the drop dead moment when they are moving on without him. In other words, it seems unlikely that even if Roth came back next week, he could wrestle the starting strong side outside linebacker job back from Taylor.
That job belonged to Roth when training camp opened. It clearly does not belong to him now. And, as I'm telling you, it is fast-approaching the moment when Roth will not be able to make up for the time he's lost.
"I have to be honest, in my mind mentally, right now when I'm out here, I mean 27, 28 practices have gone by," Sparano said. "Obviously, you're hoping on one hand. But from the other standpoint, I have to keep going on. I don't know when this thing is going to get right, so I have to go on like it ain't going to get right at this time and try to prepare the team accordingly.
"Whenever this things gets right, then I'll adjust. But right now, I can't."