Dolphins coach Tony Sparano had a short explanation for releasing Benny Sapp and re-signing Will Allen, essentially reversing a decision the team made 10 days earlier.
“I felt like it’s the right thing to do,” Sparano said Wednesday. “It’s something I felt I needed to do.”
Sparano said Allen and Sapp were battling for one roster spot throughout preseason and “this went right down to the end in training camp.” He said one factor that worked against Allen in preseason “was not being able to get him enough reps” because of a hamstring injury that has since healed. “One guy was healthy and the other guy wasn’t really that healthy.”
Allen and Sapp can both play in the nickel package against the slot receiver, but Allen’s ability to play effectively on the outside factored into the Dolphins’ decision. When Vontae Davis left the game temporarily, the Dolphins had to use Nolan Carroll, who allowed six completions. But Allen figures to be used primarily inside, in the nickel package.
Sparano also cited Allen’s “leadership and veteran presence.”
Allen, who signed a one-year deal with Miami, hasn’t played in a regular season game since suffering a major knee injury in October 2009. He spent last season on injured reserve after the knee gave him problems in training camp.
Is he back to pre-injury form?
“We’ll see,” he said. “I feel good….I’m ready to get to work. I’m a football junkie. I’m already a day behind on the film” for Houston.
If Allen had been on the roster for the first game, he would have been guaranteed a $1.5 million salary. Instead, the Dolphins now can pay him closer to the league minimum $910,000.
But “it doesn’t get me anywhere to be bitter,” Allen said. “It’s a business. You’ve to understand you can’t take anything personal.”
Safety Yeremiah Bell said “it’s huge to have Will back. He can help our corners, teach them how to study. He’s one of the best footwork guys at the corner position.”
Bell said Sapp’s release was “a shocker. We stunk it up as a team. You can’t just put it on one guy’s shoulders.”
Sapp allowed seven of nine passes thrown against him to be completed against New England, for 169 yards.
Bell delivered a message to his fellow defensive backs after Miami relinquished 517 passing yards and 622 yards overall against New England.
“I told guys what we put on tape is embarrassing,” he said. “I don’t see the fire from our guys that we usually play with. I don’t know why. It’s time to prove what defense we really are. That wasn’t us out there. You can’t go out there with the mentality we were a good defense last year so we’ll [automatically] be that. We’ve got to get back to competing.”
### Tony McDaniel (hand), Jason Taylor (ankle), Chris Clemons (hamstring) and Roberto Wallace (quadriceps) missed Wednesday’s practice. McDaniel’s injury is the most serious, and Sparano remained uncertain how long he will be out.
### Daniel Thomas and Charles Clay, who missed Monday’s game with hamstring injuries, practiced fully. Thomas expects to play Sunday behind Reggie Bush, who was in the game for all but two of the Dolphins’ 77 snaps against the Patriots. Larry Johnson did not play Monday.
### Kevin Walter, who starts for Houston opposite star receiver Andre Johnson, missed practice with a bruised collarbone. The Houston Chronicle reported it’s “more than likely” – but not definite – that he will miss Sunday’s Dolphins game.
### Though Davis and Sean Smith left Monday’s game temporarily with cramps, Smith said it was unavoidable. “I’m in top shape – I’m hydrated,” he said.
Sparano said cramping “is a concern every day in South Florida” but “we’re in pretty good shape.”
### The Dolphins would need an incredible frenzy of ticket purchases by Thursday’s 4:15 p.m. deadline in order to avoid a local TV blackout for Sunday’s game. The team began Wednesday with about 10,000 tickets remaining.