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Tony Sparano in his own words

Tony Sparano covered a number of issues during his press conference with the press on Wednesday.

As the Internet is not yet full, I've decided to share with you every word the coach uttered so that it comes to you unfiltered.

Notice he was coy about the health of Jake Long (things are looking good for a season-opening debut), he awarded the starting right tackle job to Marc Colombo "right now" -- I suppose leaving open the possibility the Dolphins add another player such as Bryant McKinnie or someone of that ilk.

And he really didn't want to get into any criticism of Chad Henne by any former players. His words:

(On how dropped interceptions would change the defense as a whole if they were caught)- “We felt like at the end of the year it was somewhere around 24, 25 balls that we thought we had our hand on you know that we could have made plays on, some harder than others, some routine.  But that was last year and this is this year and right now they’re catching ‘em out there so we got to take it into the game and catch a few in the game.  I mean we got one the other night, Benny (Sapp) made a nice play on the ball and came up with it.  So that was good.”

(On how much dropped interceptions that were caught would change things)- “It’s going to change it tremendously.  I mean I think at the end of this thing when you look at it teams that are playing in somewhere deep into January there’s teams whose turnover ratio is pretty good.  I mean rarely are you seeing a team whose flip-flopped turnover wise kind of the way we were that’s playing at that point.  It’s just hard to win those kinds of games.  You know I think that’s something that we talk an awful lot about here.  Some people think its micromanaging or whatever the heck that thing is but if it is I am gonna continue to do it because it’s not helping us in January.”

(On the value he puts on Bryan Cox)- “Well right now it’s been tremendous.  You know I think that some place out on the practice field during the course of our practice the pass rushers can get lost a little bit.  It might be first down day; it might be short yardage goal line stuff.  Unless it’s third down when they’re rushing the passer you know those guys can get lost a little bit and Bryan (Cox) is kinda like, he’s this home, this kind of island out there where they can go to to get this work during the course of these special team periods.  You seem ‘em working ‘em pretty good and individual Bill (Sheridan) and Bryan (Cox) will split those guys up to get extra work.  It’s starting to trickle down I seen that after practice today (Jason Taylor) and (Jared) Odrick standing out there and it’s starting to get in the younger players a little bit.  Bryan has a different way of doing things with those guys that way and part of it is a challenge and part of it is fundamentals and things that he’s learned along the way.  I think it’s very, very valuable a lot more valuable coming from Bryan than it is coming from me who’s never done it before.”

(On how Bryan Cox has handled the whole mix of linebackers, both veterans and young players)- “Well I think he’s done a great job.  The good news is Bryan (Cox) comes with a lot of stripes.  You know a guy like (Jason Taylor) who’s got I believe, he corrected me the other night, but 132.5 sacks.  I left the half out and he told me how hard it was to get the half and he’s completely correct.  But that being said a guy like (Jason Taylor) hearing from Bryan (Cox) he knows Bryan has done it you know and the two of those guys bounce ideas off of each other a little bit and then the young guys are looking at Bryan with big eyes and are understanding that he’s been out there and this guy has been a really good player in this league. I think that’s done nothing but help us.”

(On the level of satisfaction on the intensity with practice)- “I think that the practices have been pretty good.  I like the intensity. I didn’t like the finish yesterday; I liked the finish today. You know this is a grind much different than any place I’ve been associated with.  It’s hard than it was in Dallas, certainty harder than any other place, you know Jacksonville.  I mean down here at training camp this time of year and with the heat being what it is and yesterday with the humidity was really up it’s just a grind.  To think that you’re gonna be…the intensity is gonna be from start to finish at its highest level, that’s not gonna happen.  You know but I think the longer it goes and the more you can keep the intensity the better you see your football team gettin’ and I felt like today we took some strides that way.”

(On without excuses, how the team has gotten to this point)- “To be honest with you my first year here I had blinders on, it didn’t really phase me one way or the other you know I just kinda brought this but as I said to you before I think you gotta identify particularly with the veteran players on the team, the (Jason Taylors) and the (Marc) Colombos and some of the older players on the team that you’re looking at and watch their body language out here in the heat and then you’re seeing some of the guys on the team that are in the best physical shape like a Davone Bess is always in good shape or (Tyrone) Culver and I try to watch those guys to tell me when I need to back off.  Today we finished practice 14 minutes early today. So when you talk about intensity now they’re getting through this thing pretty good so that was good.  Where yesterday I had to, I seem ‘em kinda maybe hittin’ a little bit of a wall and I had to trim some plays off of practice. That’s something in the past I probably wouldn’t have done.”

(On if he feels there is still untapped potential)- “Yes, I definitely do and that’s where I feel like Bryan Cox has been able to help a little bit there too.  You know again Bill Sheridan does a tremendous job, he and David Corrao with our linebackers, but having somebody to go to that can just coach him on pass rush and they can just sit in the room together and watch the pass rush film together you know I think is gonna make Cam Wake a much better player.  I think the way Bryan prepared for games mentally will help make a player like Cam Wake a better player.  You know in other words being able to share some of those things and what he look for in some of those situations.  Having (Jason Taylor) in the room with him helps make Cam Wake a better player so all these things I think are positive.  I think Cam (Wake)’s a pretty driven.  He’s not one to settle to where he was.  He understands there’s a whole different set of challenges coming at him this year with the way people are gonna approach him during the course of ball games and I think he’s starting to prepare for that out here now.”

(On Channing Crowder saying on the radio that Chad Henne cannot get the job done and if the rest of the team feels that way)- “He’s on the radio already (laughing)?  I’m not going to comment on that.  I’ve been around and round with this already before.  You guys know that.  You know my feeling on Chad (Henne).”

(On the defense’s conditioning with the lockout)- “I mean if you watch Jared Odrick run out here I wouldn’t call it a lack of conditioning I mean this guy is tremendous, in great physical shape.  Now some are in better than others, but I would tell you are they ready for game one right now from a physical standpoint…no, but they’re pretty close.  I like the shape that most of them are in, (Paul) Soliai, some of those guys came back in really good shape for where they are body weight wise.  It’s just gettin’ them into playing shape right now, playing football.  Eight plays are different than standing here running sprints.  When you play eight plays in a row at the level that those guys have to play at it’s completely different.  That’s where we need to be.  In the last couple of practices we’ve increased the number of reps that they are out there.  Before it was fours and fives and now it’s sevens and eights from a reps standpoint where they’re out there at one time.”

(On the uncertainty in the running game)- “Yeah sure I mean there is, no question about it.  I mean I’m seeing more and more out of ‘em every day in practice but I really need to see it in the games at a consistent level here and it’s hard because you’re running out of quarters but I mean we gotta see it.  We’ll get ‘em out there again this week, we’ll play some of these guys and see what we see.  I was pleased with what they did in the ball game last week although we didn’t gain a lot of yards on the ground. I am talking about total package protection, routes, all the things that are necessary.  Identifying the looks I thought was good but we got a little bit of a ways to go there right now.”

(On the uncertainty with the offensive line)- “I feel pretty comfortable I just think these guys just need to play together.  So they just need to keep playing together.  This is probably the most we have had a group together out there you know short of Jake (Long) not being out there right now, certainly since I’ve been here.  And I think that little by little they are starting to get better.  You know today was practice nine for that group.  So sometimes it takes 50 practices for those guys to get on the same page if you’ve played the position so we don’t have 50 practices right now.  They gotta figure it out fast but they’re gettin’ there and it’s not any different than probably any lines in our league right now.”

(On Jake Long’s progress)-“He’s doing well.”  

(On how Vernon Carey has adjusted since moving positions)- “I think he’s done a nice job.  I mean I think if you were to ask Vernon (Carey), Vernon would tell you it’s different because the speed is faster in there.  That’s a true statement.  I think he’s done a nice job to date right now. I see him everyday kinda getting’ a little bit better at something.  He’s a hard guy to move in there so he’s good, he can keep the quarterback’s feet clear between he, Richie (Incognito) and (Mike) Pouncey.  That core is pretty solid in there and hard to move that way.  We just gotta get ‘em playing just a little tick faster at the second level right now.  Those are the things that come with reps.”

(On his comfort level with A.J. Edds)- “I’m comfortable with what A.J. (Edds) has done so far. A.J. needs to keep coming.  You know we need to get him to keep coming.  He’s a young guy that hasn’t played a lot of football this way.  You know again he’s played out there in space but in between the tackles he hasn’t played a whole lot of football there and I think the more reps we can get him the better we’ll be.  I want to see him be able to put a couple performances together and maybe do some things in this ball game coming up this week that he didn’t do last week and see whether or not he can take another step coverage wise, another step with pattern reads and block recognition, all the things that good linebackers do.  

(On if Marc Colombo will be the starting offensive tackle for game one)- “Yeah that’s safe to say now.”

(On the story behind the hiring of Bryan Cox)- “You know it’s interesting.  When Bill (Sheridan) was here there would be several times when I would walk into Bill’s office and he might be on the phone with Bryan (Cox), ribbing him one way or the other as their relationship kinda is.  I’ve got to know Bryan (Cox) through Bill (Sheridan) and that’s the way I got a chance to meet him.  What I really liked about Bryan, talking with him a couple times at the Senior Bowl and at the combine and at those type of things and getting’ a chance to meet him is I just thought this guy is as straight as a straight shooter comes, he tells it like it is and I thought that from a player’s standpoint that they would appreciate that coming from a player.  I thought it would be valuable to have a resource like that on my staff because I needed somebody to say to me ‘hey coach, not in pads today…that’s too many.’ Or ‘hey coach…put ‘em in pads today.’  In other words I’m lucky that I have three or four of those guys on my staff at all different positions.  Ike (Hilliard) being a skill guy, and Danny Campbell being one of those semis.  It gives me a chance to bounce some things off of those people.  I got a chance to visit with Bryan (Cox) at the Senior Bowl this year and he and I just kinda sat and we kinda talked a little bit.  You know there was a point where he was obviously out of a job and that’s where it started.  But the vision, there was no position at that point and this was kinda of an idea that I just had and I thought would be somethin’ that worked out good.  I went to Jeff (Ireland) with it and I was fortunate that Jeff amen’d it.”

(On if he ever talked to Don Shula about Bryan Cox)- “I never really had a conversation with Coach (Don) Shula about him but when Coach Shula found out that I had him here and we seen each other at the Jim Mandich function he told me that it was a pretty smart thing to do.” 

 (On the practice schedule change after the preseason games)- “There’s not much I really like about it to be honest with you but I kinda felt like you see…you have to give the players one day off every seven days.  If you do the math right now and I don’t practice this week right after the game I have to give ‘em the Tampa Bay game off.  That’s probably not gonna work is it?  So I don’t think anybody would be too happy with that.   So it gets to a point where you give it to ‘em off in the middle of the work week or you bring ‘em in right then and there after the game which is not un-normal.  In other words in season you would bring ‘em in, they would lift, they would run, they would meet and all we did was bring ‘em out for kinda a 22-play deal here and got the first group a little bit of work.  So we’re gonna do that again this week and then we won’t have to do it the following week after the Tampa game.  We will be able to give ‘em the day off right after that because that’s a short week going into Dallas and then we’re kinda on schedule.  But having to give ‘em that one day off you know in a perfect world if that rule was in place before your preseason games were scheduled you would rather play all Friday nights or all Saturday nights, not a Friday and then a Saturday.”

(On if he has seen the impact with the training camp drop off)- “Not really that way.  Where the drop off comes is when you start to look.  I mean we’re all creatures of habit, I’m sure everyone is doing it around the league.  But I told my guys the other day both the team and the staff, and I told them this because of urgency, in other words time is not a friend right now, you gotta get your team ready to play.  I’m trying to make a point to the young players, you either got it or you don’t right now.  At some point the parade is gonna pass you by here.  So this time last year going into the first preseason game, we had 22 practices and this year we had 12.  And that equaled 1,167 reps and this year it equaled 744 reps so you’re 360 or 70 reps short of where you were a year ago going into the first preseason game.  You’re not gonna get those back, you’re not gonna make ‘em up.  So that’s where I see the greatest impact.  The walk through reps you really have to have the player’s attention in this walk through which it’s been good for us, the guys have done a nice job  but you have to have something specific that you’re gonna work on, maybe something that you wouldn’t rep out here in practice.  Whatever the situation is we do some coming out, we do some short yardage goal line; you know some of those kinda things.  The players gotta do a good job executing because they count.”

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