I suppose we all can change our minds. Women do it. Double-agent spies do it. Obviously, football coaches do it.
On Aug. 24, when it seemed apparent fullback Lousaka Polite's role was diminished within Miami's new offensive scheme, I asked coach Tony Sparano how that disappering role would affect Polite's roster status on the team.
“It doesn’t really affect (Lousaka Polite) in 21 personnel and we have not really gone into 22 personnel," Sparano said. "We have done it in practice, but we haven’t done it obviously we didn’t do it the other night. But 22 personnel is still part of our package. You have to have the fullback and I think there’s enough good things that Lou does right now that will help us and somebody’s really gonna have to do a heck of a job in there for me to think otherwise."
Two things: Seems the Dolphins don't "have to have the fullback" after all because you look at their roster following cuts to 53 and there isn't a traditional fullback in the bunch. Lex Hilliard can double as a FB, but everyone knows he isn't really one and Charles Clay is obviously not a FB even though he's listed as one on the depth chart.
Secondly, I guess the cutting of Polite means somebody did, in fact, "do a heck of a job" of helping Sparano think differently on Polite.
It is against that background that I present to you the transcript of yesterday's presser with Sparano.
During this press conference, coach compared rookie Daniel Thomas to a young Larry Johnson. (The clock is now ticking on Thomas authoring his first 1,700-yard season).
He said Nolan Carroll, who didn't distinguish himself in preseason games, had a "tremendous" training camp, and thus was a better choice to keep over Will Allen, who seemed to play well in his lone preseason outing. (Obviously, Allen lost his bid to make the team based on his lack of work in practices.)
Sparano says Marlon Moore basically made the team a couple of weeks ago and now that Miami has worked really hard to get some speed at the WR spot with Clyde Gates, Moore and some with Brian Hartline, the club isn't going to get rid of that speed. We'll see about all of that.
We'll see how long all these words stand up.
I should advise you to read quickly. Because everything is apparently subject to change.
(On the process behind the decisions of the 53-man roster) - “Well it was hard, I mean it was a good problem because we had hard decisions to make. But it was hard. I think there was a point in there where you’re in and around 45 (players) and you’re kind of grinding on the last eight or nine guys and who fits where and why and all that good stuff. I mean I think that the last ball game helped us a little bit you know to identify some of that stuff. It was really a total body of work here in training camp and you can’t excuse what went on for three, four weeks.
(On what was behind the decision to keep six receivers) - “I have six and I have six pretty good ones. So it’s a deep position and I don’t want to give up speed. I worked too hard to get it on this roster to give it up.”
(On if Marlon Moore was always on the roster) - “No I mean as of the last couple weeks it really wasn’t that tough of a decision.”
(On what he likes about Will Yeatman) - “Well he’s a guy we had on our radar for quite some time. Actually before the draft, in other words free agency all that kind of stuff and in the draft you know obviously went to another team. We seen him come available here and that was something we’d want to be involved in. He’s a smart guy, he’s a big guy, he’s a strong guy. It’s a little different than some of the guys that we have right now at the position and I think he brings a few different things to the table that way. He did a nice job in the preseason games for those guys.”
(On keeping five out of the six players from the draft class)- “I’ve said all along, I thought this was a really good rookie class. That being said they’ve had limited time out here to get themselves ready to go here and still not there yet, but I do think that each one of these kids has shown tremendous upside and can help this football team in a lot of ways. I see a lot of play eaters in this group, guys that will play a lot of plays one way or the other. Whether it’s Jimmy Wilson on special teams, (Clyde) Gates and his contribution or any of those guys so I’m just happy that our guys did a super job in the draft and I think it showed in training camp here and when the roster shaped up.
(On what kind of camp Chad Henne has had and where he is at right now)- “I think he’s had a really good training camp so I mean I think he’s way ahead of where he was a year ago. I think anybody that’s been watching us play can see that and I think that I would expect that he’s going to have a really good season.”
(On if it’s safe to say he isn’t done moving pieces on the roster) - “I mean I don’t know that we’re done necessarily. I mean I don’t know at this point in time with the amount of people that are out there. I mean let me tell you there’s a lot of guys out there right now obviously. Some people cut a lot more than we had to cut. But with the amount of people out there I don’t know you can say ever. But I would say we’re certainly coming to the end of it here. So I mean we got to get ourselves ready to play here and maybe a couple moves as we get going here. We always try to turn this roster at the bottom if we could.”
(On if Larry Johnson didn’t show enough in his time here) - “No, I mean, I thought Larry did a really good job I think it just came down to numbers and comfort. You know right now I kind of felt like at this particular time I have something similar that’s younger and a little faster and all those good things. But, I mean, I thought Larry did a really good job for us and it really came down to numbers at the position.”
(On if he was talking about Daniel Thomas in comparison to Larry Johnson)- “Yes.”
(On if the new rule regarding the game day roster come into the decision behind keeping two quarterbacks)- “Well I think the rule has something to do with it and I think also the rule gives you flexibility at the game you know for a little different body and I think it gives you the ability to bring in maybe somebody else that can contribute 25, 30 plays at the game some place. So I mean that helps us a little bit that way. To be honest with you, I felt best with two quarterbacks right now. And there’s a lot of teams that don’t do it but there’s a lot of teams that do it. Right now we are one of the teams that are going to play with two quarterbacks.”
(On if Will Allen’s health came into play)- “Total body of work. That’s all I can say there. I mean, I really, really like Will Allen and I really had a hard time with making that decision at the end of this thing. We’re deep back there right now with guys. I felt like Nolan Carroll had a tremendous training camp. I really thought Benny (Sapp) did good things you know and that group of guys and Jimmy (Wilson) and I had the least amount of work on Will right now. That’s where I was and that’s what really came into play is just a total body work with a lot of training camp and a total evaluation at the end.”
(On if the team has increased the team speed or playing faster)- “Nah, I think we’ve increased the team speed. I think that … I would say that’s a good question. I think we are playing faster. I think the tempo of things has changed tremendously in our approach on both sides of the ball. I think we’ve always played fast on defense but I think offensively we’ve been able to play fast and that’s kind of made our defense play a little faster if you will. That being said and there’s no substitute for having speed I think that we’ve created some speed on this team at a bunch of positions. The linebacker position runs better right now, the receiver position runs better, the running back position runs better, the line runs better so we have different speed right now I think all around.”
(On the conversation with Lousaka Polite) - “That was really difficult. That was a really difficult decision and conversation to have. You know both those guys Lou, Will Allen, just tremendous pros, really good pros and good people. Guys that have all the things that you really want to have on your team it’s just you have to make decisions that are hard decisions and these were hard decisions. We kind of went in a little different direction so there’s a little more flexibility right now with where we are then maybe where we were. All that being said those guys have done an awful lot for us and I appreciate that."
(On his thoughts on the running back position and its progression) - “My thoughts are, I think that we’ve helped ourselves a bunch here with Reggie (Bush). I’m looking forward to getting Reggie out there and getting him the football. Reggie is the starting running back. Daniel Thomas will be the next guy, pretty simple process. So I only have three of them and they’re on the roster right now.”
(On how much was a concerted effort to build the team this offseason with people not knowing what your pieces are doing) - “A lot, a lot of it was. First I had to find the speed and then we had to kind of start the chess game a little bit I think with the less predictability part of it. I feel like right now with the way that the roster is put together I’m not sure anybody really has an idea of how we might come at them one way or the other. So I think that’s a good thing. And I think the way we’ve been utilizing some of these different players has shown less predictability right now as well. We haven’t scratched the surface there yet. Obviously there’s a bunch of things that we’re practicing that we haven’t shown right now which we’re kind of looking forward to getting to do.”