When Bill Parcells and his people arrived in Dallas in 2003, Andre Gurode was languishing as an ordinary interior lineman who wasn't really a center and definitely wasn't a very good guard. Parcells and "his people," which included Tony Sparano let Gurode try to make a name for himself as a guard.
It failed miserably.
Well, rather than give up on Gurode, the Cowboys decided to make an investment in reworking his contract and moving Gurode to center.
Andre Gurode's career took off and he is now a perennial Pro Bowl player.
Well, the same group of people -- Parcells, Jeff Ireland and to a lesser degree, Tony Sparano -- drafted Bobby Carpenter out of Ohio State five years ago and tried to turn him into a 3-4 outside linebacker.
The idea failed. Carpenter was considered a bust until the moment the Cowboys cut him and he went to St. Louis. Then the Rams also cut him this preseason and the Dolphins signed him.
But rather than put him in the same position where Carpenter failed with two teams, the Dolphins found a niche for Carpenter at inside linebacker.
Despite joining the team only days before the regular-season opener at Buffalo, Carpenter actually started that game alongside Karlos Dansby. He also started last week at Minnesota. No, he's not playing every down, but rather on a situational basis.
He has only two tackles. But his goal-line stop of Adrian Peterson at Minnesota last week was an impressive and key moment in the game.
"During our time down there [in Dallas] with Bobby, we didn't kind of see him play inside as much as we're seeing him now," coach Tony Sparano said today. "And sometimes some of these guys start a little bit later. They really do, especially if you're bouncing them around positionally. With Andre, when we came in there he had just played a bunch of games at guard and when you watched it, it took us a while to figure out the best place to put him, too. Same thing with Bobby right now."
So can Carpenter possibly make the kind of leap at ILB that Gurode long ago made when he moved to center?
"Except we brought him in and immediately gave him a role. And that role, so we didn't confuse the whole thing because you look at him and he can play him outside or inside -- we didn't want to do that. We got him a role that he can help this football. But I can see him making that kind of improvement down the road, sure."
So consider this move permanent -- or as permanent as anything can be in the NFL.
"He's inside for a long time," Sparano said. "I'd like to keep him there for a long time."
Sparano said today was the best Friday practice the team has ever had since he's been coach. That is good news for the Dolphins as they wind down preparations for the New York Jets.
Typically, the Dolphins play well when they practice well.
Jets center Nick Mangold, out all week with a shoulder injury, practiced today in New Jersey. He is expected to start for the Jets.