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The Tony Sparano factor in Jets-Dolphins matchup

Tony Sparano was not a big Rex Ryan fan when he coached the Dolphins and Ryan was leading the Jets. Ryan was admittedly not a big Sparano fan, either.

"It's funny because I never liked him," Ryan said moments ago on a conference call with the South Florida media. "It was the same way. My big thing is he thought he was tougher than me. He thought his team was tougher than mine and I thought mine was tougher than his and I was tougher than him."

So why did Ryan hire the former Dolphins coach to be his offensive coordinator this year?

"One thing I did is I always respected him," Ryan said. "I recognize him being an outstanding football coach and his teams played hard and cared about him. He's passionate about the game so that was why it was easy for me when we had the job as offensive coordinator open, that's the first guy I went to."

Ryan knows that Sunday's game against the Dolphins is special for Sparano. How can it not be? He coached the Dolphins four seasons and built relationships with players and assistants. 

"Anytime you go against a group or a team you used to coach -- with me I spent 10 years in Baltimore and I know how special it is," Ryan said. "Those players, I promise you, he cares about them a great deal. Without question. Without question.

"He has great memories from coaching there and people and the organization and all that. There might be some people in the organization he doesn't care for but I can tell you this: I know how special it is competing against the players and the guys you care about. Those guys have bled for you and things and that's something you'll never forget."

Although Sparano is familiar with much of the talent, particualarly on defense, he will have no direct pipeline to Miami's scheme because the Dolphins have changed on both offense as well as the defense he will face.

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The Dolphins are practicing today. Daniel Thomas (concussion) is working at least on a limited basis. Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) is working at least on a limited basis.

Tony McDaniel (knee) is not practicing.

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Reggie Bush, who gained 172 rushing yards and 197 total yards against Oakland last week, was today named the AFC player of the week.

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