« July 2011 | Main | September 2011 »

65 posts from August 2011

August 02, 2011

Tony Sparano addresses Dolphins tackle mysteries

Tony Sparano was making the rounds of South Florida radio shows Tuesday morning and, first up, he visited Armando and the Amigo, giving us a chance to have some fun with the Dolphins coach and get some interesting nuggets as well.

The nuggets mostly included Miami's offensive tackles -- an area of much mystery since training camp began.

Firstly, the coach gave the most clear view of a timetable for brining LT Jake Long off the physically unable to perform list. Basically, the Dolphins expect Long in the lineup for the regular season opener against New England and probably even a little before.

"I can't say 100 percent right now but that's been the plan and right now the plan is going according to script," Sparano said. "If the plan continues we would see him actually on the field a little before that. I don't know how this is going to go but the most important thing is we have him there for New England and that was the goal from Day 1."

So good news on the left tackle front. On the right tackle front the scenario is a little more murky.

As you know if you're keeping track, the Dolphins signed former Dallas right tackle Marc Colombo on Monday afternoon. Then they gave Vernon Carey a "personal day," off from practice Monday evening. Carey is not injured. Carey didn't need a rest as Monday was the first day in full pads.

The rumors throughout the Internet is Carey was given time to go home and ponder the possibility of a pay cut. If that is true, it makes sense the team would not allow Carey on the field, where he might risk a season-ending injury that would cost the team his entire salary for the year.

Carey is scheduled to cost upwards of $7 million against the cap and while that is fine for an elite tackle, Carey was not elite last season. That, combined with Colombo's addition makes him a prime candidate for a pay cut.

I asked Sparano about the rumors and whether he could guarantee Carey would be on the team in 2011.

"You know better than to ask me that question," Sparano began. "At the end of the day, anything I talk about with my players I'm going to keep in house here. But I gave Vernon a personal day last night. That's all I'll say about it. He and I are going to visit again today at some point."

So Sparano and Carey will talk today on a day players are off from practice. That suggests the Dolphins will try to get an answer from Carey on a topic -- the acceptance of the paycut?

Also, sometimes what goes unsaid is just as important as what is said. Coach did not guarantee Carey will be on the team.

The man does not lie. So no wonder he would not make that guarantee. 

You can listen to Armando and the Amigo every weekday morning 6-10 a.m. on 640-AM in South Florida or 640sports.com on the web.

August 01, 2011

Jason Taylor speaks plus team cuts Tim Dobbins

Jason Taylor was just introduced to the South Florida media as the Miami Dolphins', er, newest addition.

"This is home," said Taylor, wearing aqua shorts and a Dolphins shirt. "There’s a very familiar peace about being here. It fits."

This is Taylor's third stint with the Dolphins.

"I do not anticipate leaving and having to go away and come back again," Taylor said.

Taylor said he didn't really expect to return for this stint. But after the Jets called him at "10:01 AM" on Tuesday, the first day teams were allowed to speak to unrestricted free agents, he was surprised to get a text from Dolphins coach Tony Sparano about an hour later.

Then he got a call from Jeff Ireland.

And then he got comfortable with the idea of returning to the team.

"Because of the way things happened last year I thought that chapter in my life may have closed and we moved on," Taylor said.

Of the New York experience, he said, "I enjoyed it. I was open to going back this year. And if you had asked me a year ago if the Dolphins would ever have any interest, I would have said, ‘No.’ I thought the Dolphins had moved on."

Taylor will be a reserve for the Dolphins.

"I understand how old I am and how long I’ve played this game," he said. "I understand there’s a lot of miles. It’s like the old saying, I’ll scratch where it itches."

It only itches, Taylor admitted, because Bill Parcells is no longer with the Dolphins. He and Taylor didn't exactly see eye-to-eye.

"We can address the elephant in the room," Taylor said. "Do I honestly think I’d be here if Bill was here? No."

So much for that.

The Dolphins are not exactly standing still with their LB corps. They have terminated the contract of ILB Tim Dobbins and signed undrafted rookie linebacker Mark Masterson.

Dobbins had possibly gotten too expensive to keep while still playing primarily as a backup and on special teams. You pay at veteran like Taylor a $910,000 minimum salary, you have to make room for the addition.

[Update: OT Vernon Carey is not present at this evening's practice. I do not currently have a reason why.]

[Update 2: The Dolphins say Carey was simply given a night off by coach Tony Sparano for personal reasons.]

Follow me on twitter please.

Jason Taylor returning to the Dolphins

Jason Taylor is returning to the Miami Dolphins.

I am reporting that Taylor was contacted by both Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland in recent days and invited to fill Miami's role as a depth pass rusher.

He has accepted.

He announced his return to the Dolphins on his Jason Taylor Foundation Facebook page.

Taylor has also told and texted several teammates so this is absolutely happening. It is no joke.

Taylor, 36, is returning to the team after the second stint away -- the lastest last season with the New York Jets, with whom he went to the AFC Championship game. Taylor had five sacks with New York last season.

The Dolphins have been searching for depth pass-rush help since the middle of last season. While Koa Misi remains the team's starting strongside linebacker and Cameron Wake is the team's weakside linebacker on early downs, the Dolphins are looking for help in obvious passing downs.

Taylor is author of 132.5 career sacks. He played with Miami from 1997-2007 and then was traded to the Washington Redskins for a second round pick by Bill Parcells in 2008. He returned to the Dolphins in 2009 and gave the Dolphins seven sacks.

But the Dolphins showed little interest in Taylor last season and he took the only offer that was on the table: From the Jets.

The Jets, however, are going in another direction this year.

Good idea?

I like it. While Taylor is not the sack machine he was early in his career, he is a threat. He is a great locker room presence. And as of now, he is a Miami Dolphin.


Colombo headed to town to sign with Dolphins

ESPNDallas.com is reporting the Dolphins have a contract in place with former Dallas OT Marc Colombo. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has confirmed the story. He'll join the Dolphins.

"He's big, tough, smart," Sparano said. "Started about 72 games down there."

Down there is Dallas, which has seemingly been at the other end of a player pipeline since Bill Parcells was hired in December 2007.

Colombo is an offensive lineman. Sparano said he'll be used at tackle.

Suddenly the Dolphins seem to have offensive line issues they find a need to address. I get that Jake Long is on the PUP. I get that Colombo is an experienced free agent. But Sparano said the Colombo addition has nothing to do with Long or his injury status.

I would say it more likely would affect Vernon Carey, whose status on the team is not certain this season unless he proves himself.

"My vision for him is see where we are in the tackle mix," Sparano said of Colombo.

Colombo is 6-8 and weighs 320 pounds. He's 32 years old. He play, according to the folks in Dallas, was less than stellar a season ago.

Brandon Marshall illness raises football questions also

I was just surfing the web and, going on a football site, I was reading the headlines:

Jets reach deal with Plaxico

Jets re-sign Cromartie

Bengals bring back Benson

Seahawks, Tatupu part ways

Dolphins WR admits personality disorder

Jaguars Lewis ending holdout

Which one do you see is a little out of place? I'll give you one guess.

Look, I have compassion for Brandon Marshall. I feel sympathy for him as he battles the demons of Borderline Personality Disorder. The man's life has, by his own admission, been hell the past year. He hasn't been a happy camper in the least despite being so blessed with natural gifts and worldly luxuries -- cars, big home, lots of cash, great athletic ability, wife, family.

The story of Marshall seeking help for his condition is one of courage. No doubt.

But there is a football angle that must be discussed also. And from a purely football standpoint, and the Miami Dolphins, after all, are a football team not a mental health clinic, the Marshall story has to make you cringe.

Basically, the Dolphins greatest offensive weapon from last season, and the man they are counting on to be their best offensive offensive player again this season, is admitting he is suffering from a mental illness. And while Marshall has been aggressive in seeking treatment for the disorder and believes he has it under control, he adds, "by no means am I healed or fixed."

That is scary, particularly for a team that has no second act if Marshall suffers a relapse. What happens if Marshall goes from Beast mode to Boderline Beast mode, in which he loses control again?

We will hurt with him and for him because you never want a fellow human to be so buffeted by such troubles. But Dolphins fans will also be hurting for their team because, geez, this is a guy the offense is counting on to be on the field and be 100 percent engaged for 16 games. And you should worry because the team currently has no complementary weapon to put on the field if something happens to Marshall.



On a personal level.

And on a football level.