Coach Tony Sparano spoke with the media earlier today and this is everything he said:
(On any updates on Kory Sheets) – “No updates on him right now. We just sent him out to the doctors. I’m not quite sure, looks like an achilles, but, not sure.”
(On Jake Long and how he should make next step in his career) – “Well, listen, Jake Long is a pretty good player for us I think, he really is. But I think, and this is the line coach in me coming out, but there’s a bunch of things that Jake (Long) would tell you he feels like he needs to be able to get better at to put him—to raise the bar a little bit with his game. I think consistency, probably with his hands more than anything else would be the biggest thing. He’s getting better and better in the run game. People are starting to figure that out, in other words that this guy really is a pretty good run blocker. And his protection skills I think have gotten better and better. But, adding the ability to use his hands a little bit more and a little bit better I think would help him. But, that’s an area that I think can help improve his game.”
(On if he finds that tackles that have a fast rise their first few years than even out on the field)—“No I think for a while I think these guys can continue to get better. I think once they think they know it all then you’ve got a little bit of a problem. Maybe that’s where all of a sudden they start the flat line, when they start to think they know it all. And I’ve coached some guys like that. I’ve coached some guys that think they have all the answers and they just stop getting better. You know, I don’t know that that’s going to happen with this guy. I just—in other words, if I were betting that right now, which I am not, but if I were I would lay a lot of money that this guy doesn’t approach things that way, he just doesn’t do it. He’s a kind of guy that is pretty curious and diligent on wanting to get better in every way possible. (I mean) one of these guys that comes in, in the morning and is asking the questions of how do I get better and want to do I need to do.”
(On if it’s pretty scary good) – "Pretty scary good.”
(On the role of the TE’s in the offense after acquisition of Brandon Marshall) – “I think it stays the same as last year. With Brandon (Marshall) I just think the opportunities with Brandon are going to be a little bit better. I think when you have a player like this all of a sudden the middle of the field becomes a little bit more intriguing I think and that’s an area that the tight end usually can work in. But I think that there job description won’t change a whole lot. I think it depends more, Brandon (Marshall) aside, it depends more on the combination tight ends that we have on this team when it’s all said and done. So, in other words, if you have some people that can do similar jobs, then you might be able to get (Anthony) Fasano involved a little bit differently, somebody else involved a little bit differently so we’ll see."
(On the TE group as a whole) – “I like the way the group is right now, it’s a hard position. Honestly, my opinion, other than the quarterback, they have one of toughest jobs on the football team and just because they have to do everything and they can’t be okay at it they got to be good at it. They have to be good protecting, they have to be good out of the backfield, they have to be good in the pass game, they have to be good in the run game. So, they wear a lot of hats and I think from that standpoint there this group, we’re lucky they have some of that flexibility and they’re all very smart players.”
(On Kory Sheets and what he has seen in him) – “Well, I like the way he was catching the ball as a returner which was something Kory needed to improve on and I’ve seen some of that improvement. I like what he was doing with the ball under his arm during the course of practices. Pretty explosive guy. So, but we’ll see. (I mean) I really don’t know. This just happened and he’s at the doctors now. I’ve told you what I thought it looked like.”
(On Brandon Marshall and if he wants him to catch a certain number of passes in contrast to his stats last year) – “Well I don’t—what I don’t want is, I don’t want to make predictions on what it’s supposed to be like and then later on (you know) one way or the other maybe have that be an issue okay. It doesn’t need to be an issue. What I think is that—I think that when you have a player like Brandon Marshall and then obviously your thoughts should be that the ball goes through this guy somehow or another in other words how is he involved in the progression . Or, maybe where you want him to splash water. Sometimes you just want those guys to run fast and draw a little bit of attention and be able to do something different. So, I think Brandon (Marshall) understands that. I think with a guy of this player’s ability, you know, he’s had a hundred catches a couple of times, but a guy with his ability, I don’t—I can’t put a number on one way or another or one way or the other where he’ll be. I just know he’s going to catch a bunch."
(On if Brandon Marshall has been a “diva”—part of his first words upon acquisition-“I’m not a diva”) – “No, he really hasn’t. And I have to say that. I mean, this guy, he’s been outstanding. He’s been a real curious guy in the meeting room wanting to know more. Studies it good, not afraid to share information with the other players and if you don’t pull him out, out here and pull him out of reps, he’ll take them all. So, that’s the kind of guy I think that you want to have setting examples for. I don’t see that in this guy."
(On if he thinks his staff had not went to the Senior Bowl, would they have missed out on Koa Misi) – “That’s a good question. Our scouts are outstanding, alright. So, I’m sure we would have gotten it right. They’ve done a tremendous job. But, that being said, one thing you did see at the Senior Bowl through the course of the week and these practices—and you know the Senior Bowl starts hot, in other words, everybody’s there we got all the coaches everybody, but then as the week goes on it’s a ghost town for a little while until we get to the game. And as the week started to go on, you got a chance to see this guy in coverage playing off the ball which he’s hasn’t done doing some of those kinds of things. So, I think the Senior Bowl helped us tremendously in that part of the evaluation and really just getting a chance (you know) when the dust settles and everybody else got (done) poking and pulling at the players, it gave us a chance later in the week to be able to visit with some of these guys and really get a chance to see what made them kick a little bit. So, I would say that it certainly helped in the process it did not hurt.”
(On if Koa Misi is one of the versatile guys that he has seen ) – “He’s pretty versatile. (You know) he can do some jobs. Now I mean, this guy I didn’t play in a game yet. So, and we certainly don’t wanna—but, I just kind of feel like when we went through the evaluation process with Koa Misi one thing we thought, there were things there that we knew we would get at the game. And I’m kind of seeing some of those things out here right now. So, we’ll see what happens. He’ll certainly be there and he’ll certainly be, will get his turns.”
(On if having first and second year guys mostly contributing and if that’s a reason for excitement at this point) – “Well I hope it’s exciting. I think that I’m not afraid of it. I certainly am not. I think that when you get to where you want to be the JV grows up and they become varsity players and right now we’re looking at a lot of those kinds of players out there. Kendall Langford is a guy like that right. Vontae (Davis) and Sean (Smith) and these types of players that when young players that are starting to grow up Cameron (Wake) (you know) that is starting to grow up in your system a little bit. Now there’s another jump there. To really be (you know) the Yeremiahs (Bell) and the Will (Allen) those kind of (players), there’s another jump that has to take place. These players need to make that jump, but I’m excited about those possibilities right now. Never mind the young guys that we have running around here like (Jared) Odrick and those type of people who we think are going to obviously be contributors. So, I’m pretty excited about it I like (it). The one thing with this group right now, is they go out here and they’re young enough and bold enough to go out here and challenge this weather in every practice and all these types of things and not bat an eye at it. So, I kind of like that part of their young enthusiasm."
(On whether it is more stressful to start young players in the front seven or at cornerback) – “That rookie corner thing is pretty stressful; I’m not going to lie to you. It’s just the job descriptions are different back there and I think that when you’re starting two young rookie corners like that, you know that a mistake, I mean for God’s sake, we all seen those kids compete last year, but sometimes it ended up in the other guy’s hand. These kids have learned from those things and they’ve gotten better and better. Now, I don’t want to downplay what it takes to be an outside linebacker as a young player in this league, in this defense. It’s really a hard job; it really is. But those corners, that’s why when you get them you need to keep them.”
(On whether the second QB on the depth chart has been determined) – “No, not really.”
(On the time frame for determining the second quarterback) – “I have no idea.”
(On the benefits of tonight’s night practice) – “Well, part of it is, the benefits I hope are rest. Okay, and recovery time and that; that’s really why I did it. As we look back, as you’ve seen, we went five or six in a row in pads. I put them in shells the other day and now we’re going into pads again for a couple here. We’ll have a little break here now. These players will get off their feet for about seven hours here; just off their feet for seven hours, get a little bit of rest before this evening. I hope to have more energy, get them out of the sun a little bit. Tomorrow their day really won’t start until 10:30, we moved practice back to 3:00 tomorrow but 10:30 is when their day starts, so they get a chance to sleep in a little bit tonight. This was all part of trying to not make everyday Groundhog Day around here, change it up a little bit for them that way and to get them as much rest as we could in between some of these sessions at different times. Tonight, Monday, really that’s what purpose that serves.”
(On Chad Pennington having something to prove off his injury) – “I would say that if you brought Chad Pennington up here, Chad Pennington would tell you that he has something to prove to himself, to Chad Pennington with the injury thing and all that. Something happened out here in practice last week, I don’t mind telling you that last week or whenever it was, where he threw a ball and all of a sudden, boom, something just, there was relief. Something just went off where, wow, I mean that thing came out of his hand and it was really done well. He felt really good, those are the things that happen with any injury, not just Chad Pennington’s, you know the ACL’s that they need to come back from, those type of things. I think that part of it is where Chad would tell you he has something to prove to Chad. Other than that, he doesn’t really have much to prove to me that way. The one good thing with Chad Pennington is I know exactly what he needs to be ready to play in the games, I really do. Now, a couple of these other guys, they require a lot more than that just because they’re young.”
(On the signing of Micah Johnson) – “Micah’s a guy we did a lot of work with in the draft, we really did. He’s a guy that from our standpoint we felt big, physical, 3-4 mic linebacker. I mean he really is a big, strong kid that way, maybe best football still ahead of him, I don’t know. We’ll see, he’s going to get an opportunity out here. He was out there and we had a chance to bring him in. With A.J.’s (Edds) situation, that gave us a chance to do that and take a look at him.”
(On whether he was a Senior Bowl player) – “Not to my knowledge, no. No he wasn’t.”
(On A.J. Wallace) – “A.J. Wallace left the team.”
(On gauging Cameron Wake’s progression) – “Well, I mean we had a lot of reps during the spring and certainly a bunch of reps up until today. Today, example that was an empty day out there today in the morning practice so he had plenty of coverage opportunities there. We’ve really tried to make sure that from my end that I put them in that position as much as we possibly can. We’re getting a chance to see him do some of those things in pass coverage right now. I think the progression has been very good, very, very few mental situations right now and physically he’s starting to understand some of these route concepts pretty good. I like where Cameron’s coming right now; we just got to get him in the game where it really happens fast at this position and really let him play. This is a guy, he was on our roster last year as an OLB but most of his reps came in nickel as a pass rusher, not as a linebacker and we need to get this guy out there playing the OLB position in a game.”
(On what can be learned about Cameron against the run) – “What I’ve seen, and again what’s good about this is that I have two coaches right now that are doing some of the evaluating on that side of the ball in Mike Nolan and Bill Sheridan that really haven’t seen Cameron that way. So when they’re watching him, some of this is the first time and you’re listening to a lot of positive things about how stout he’s playing against the run right now, his point of attack stuff, his hands. I really have seen that in some of these individual drills as well. I think he’s coming along nicely.”
(On how close Austin Spitler is to returning) – “Well, I thought yesterday he was getting closer and then this morning we had a little bit of a, of a setback there so I can’t answer the question.”
(On Ryan Grice-Mullen not going full speed in practice today) – “Yeah, well we knew that with Ryan today, he was going to get involved in individual periods in the beginning of practice and then maybe a little bit more as it went on. We were just going to try to take it easy with him, but this is a way for us to get him started."
(On what would qualify as a successful season for Ricky Williams) – “Well, I think for Ricky Williams, it’s hard for me to say that. I would tell you that both of those guys feel like together they want to rush for 1,000 yards. That’s their, I’ve heard them say that before. They both (Ronnie Brown and Williams) want to rush for 1,000 yards and all that good stuff. I have to believe that a successful season for Ricky Williams, if he were saying it, would just be about the team and about the team winning and about him having the opportunity here to experience that with these fans here in South Florida. I think it’s going to be all about the team for Ricky.”
(On how much longer he thinks Ricky can play) – “I don’t know, it’s the damndest thing, but when I watch the guy run out here I keep, your eye tells you to keep watching for, for the arrow to go down and the drop off, but I haven’t seen it so I really don’t know.”
(On Ricky maybe wanting to see how long his body can allow him to play) – “Ricky’s a lot smarter than I am. I would never like get into that kind of conversation with him when it comes to those kind of things. I’m just finding out about this body (his own) right now, and I don’t like some of the answers that I have. I would tell you that I could see that being true. In his mind I could see the challenge of how long I could do this, and keep my body going the way it’s going. I could see that.”
(On the scuffle at the end of practice between Richie Incognito and Lionel Dotson) – “Two minute drill at the end of practice when it’s ninety degrees out. That could have been me out there. I just don’t, my end of things, I chalk it up but you just don’t want anybody to get hurt and you don’t want to do any dumb things.”
(On whether he’s anxious to see Tyler Thigpen in game situations) – “Pretty anxious, I really am. I want to see him get to the game because I’ve seen improvement. Improvement out here and improvement in the game at that position are two different things. I am anxious to get him to the game and to put him out there and to see whether or not that carries over. You guys somewhere along the line, somebody’s going to ask me the question about, coach, sometimes the practice guys, they practice really good but they go to the game and they don’t do this, or vice versa. They don’t practice good and then they go to the game and play good. I kind of, the game as an indicator to see whether or not all the work you’ve done carries over is important. You don’t want to get that guy to the game, whoever it might be, and see something different out of him. I’m kind of curious. The other thing with Tyler is the game with Tyler, brings out a little something different in a good way too. Where out here, you have him kind of in a cage; he gets in the game and some of what he does in a game situation can be really good that way too.”
(On whether defensive freedom for young players can lead to mistakes) – “No, I would hope, one of the good things is Mike Nolan’s area of expertise really is in the back end of things. Between Mike, Todd (Bowles), and Joe Danna right now, I feel like I have three people back there that certainly have their eye on some of those situations. I don’t think the inexperience is going to be able to be used as an excuse right now for anything that happens back there. I think that we’ve done a good enough job of educating these guys. They’re starting to understand our coverage concepts, and they’ve played enough plays. We’ll have to see, we’ll see where it goes, but I would hope that inexperience doesn’t have anything to do with it.”