I suppose your questions surrounding Larry Johnson include wanting to know why him and not Ricky Williams or Ronnie Brown. Fair.
It seems the Dolphins view Johnson much differently than either Ricky or Ronnie. They were starter types for Miami. Johnson is merely a backup addition.
"Yeah I think a different set of circumstances at that time," coach Tony Sparano said. "You know, I mean really different. I don’t think we’re really talking about the same situation right now. This is something three weeks into training camp here or whatever it is, four weeks into training camp and we’re making a decision to do and again Reggie Bush is going to be the first runner out the gate here. I mean he’s going to be the starting running back. That’s what we’re doing so this is a different deal here, different role totally."
That doesn't mean Johnson won't be allowed to rise to the importance of a Ricky or Ronnie, but that's not the situation right now.
Jake Long continues to practice and work with the first team offense. But the Dolphins are still not certain whether or not he will play Saturday night against Tampa Bay, according to Sparano.
"I haven’t made that decision yet," coach said. "Not positive right now. If I had to make the decision today…probably not. But I don’t have to make the decision today."
I am not a football coach nor do I pretend to be one. I don't watch film. I don't grade it. I don't pretend to know about teaching technique. Basically, I'm a dummy. Basically, I'm a fat dummy.
But I talk to people who know their stuff and they share becaue they apparently feel sorry for me.
That is why on the topic of coin tosses and the decision that comes with it, I can tell you most NFL coaches will absolutely defer if they have the opportunity this season.
Simply, the new kickoff rules has turned getting the ball first into something of a bad idea. Teams have the choice of taking the ball first and getting it either on the 20-yard line (after a predictable touchback) or in somewhat poor field position based on the kickoff from the 35.
Assuming you have a solid defense and can stop the opponent on downs the first series, that potentially means the team that received the football could be kicking from the 20 and definitely from inside their 30.
That suggests that the punt returner might field the ball around his 25 yard line or likely much better than that. Even a modest return can place the ball at the 35 yard line.
That's 15 yards of field position the first series has already won for the deferring team without it even taking its first offensive snap. Yes, it's unseen yardage, but coaches love that kind of stuff.
I asked Sparano today why any coach would decide to receive rather than kick.
" I think that most times most people would probably not want to do that,” he confirmed.
The Dolphins play Saturday at Tampa Bay. And this is the third preseason game. So does that mean starters will venture into halftime and come out again in the third quarter?
“Well we will see how far we take them," Sparano said. "I'd like to reheat them again at halftime and bring them into the third quarter, yes … see how we do. If it was a situation where one side just played a staggering number of plays, which we certainly hope isn’t our defense, then I might reconsider that.
"Last week the offense played 55 or so I think in the first half of the game, we’ll see how that goes. I’d like to bring them back and get them heated up again which puts a lot of people in situations right now where maybe they wouldn’t play as much in this game. It makes practice right now important."
Larry Johnson isn't expected to be "the man," as Sparano said today. But he is expected to run like a man. And he intends to do just that -- bruising, banging, battering.
“I mean, it’s only too few guys that have their own character, their own way of doing things," he said. "Hopefully, I bring a little bit more old school toughness that I already had in Kansas City. Hopefully, that will give some of the younger guys who don’t really have experience running certain plays, kind of insights on the plays that worked for me, which is the same plays that they run here, the same plays that worked for me in Kansas City. It will be a good thing as far as knowledge to give to some of the younger guys."