I'll have two Dolphins stories up shortly next to this blog on the sports home page. If you haven't seen all of the Dolphins cuts, go to Armando's blog, where he and I have been tag-teaming to break the cuts all day.
A quick look at some Hurricanes affected by the NFL's roster cut-down deadline Friday night:
### LaRon Byrd (Arizona), Marcus Forston (New England) and Adewale Ojomo (Giants) made teams as rookie undrafted free agents.
### Baltimore placed Tommy Streeter and Damien Berry on injured reserve. (The Ravens kept ex-Gators receiver Deonte Thompson.)
### Atlanta cut Spencer Adkins and Micanor Regis.
### Philadelphia cut Brandon Washington and Chase Ford.
### The Giants cut Bruce Johnson.
### Arizona placed Javarris James on injured reserve.
### As everyone knows, Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller are part of the Dolphins' final 53.
### Pittsburgh placed Sean Spence on injured reserve after his gruesome knee injury Thursday.
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Here's what Dolphins coach Joe Philbin had to say at his Friday night press conference:
(On having wide receiver Brian Hartline back at practice today) – “Yeah, it was good. Yeah. Again, hopefully, I said to the team, the plan is we’re going to have 53 healthy guys next week and 46 guys are going to dress against Houston that are healthy, ready to go and well prepared. That’s the hope and the anticipation. Today was a good opportunity to kind of get a brief introduction and get some things, there are a couple things that we did in special teams. We’ve been practicing onside kicks and hands teams with a bunch of different guys, younger guys and those type of things. We did some things we felt that was productive.”
(On tackle Jake Long’s progress from his injury) – “Like I said, the only think I would reiterate would be our anticipation is we’re going to have 53 healthy guys come (when) we start to prepare for Houston. Whether that’s the case, time will tell, but that’s the anticipation we have.”
(On his impressions of Hartline) – “I haven’t watched the tape today yet. I thought he ran around pretty well it looked like… We’re excited about getting our hands on him. Obviously, like I said, we watched him last year (and) thought he has a chance to be a productive player. Liked the way he competed for the ball. Thought he played fast, decisively and caught the ball well. Once again, we want to get him as familiar as we can with our concepts pass-game wise, which he’s obviously a little bit behind from a reps standpoint. I don’t think a learning part will be an issue. From a reps standpoint, he’s obviously going to need to catch up.”
(On how much it will help Hartline having worked with quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the offseason) – “Probably a little bit. It will be some, but you like to have, throwing against air and playing against a defense is two different things a little bit. I don’t think, certainly it’s not going to hurt him, but I wouldn’t be banking a lot on that.”
(On currently having three cornerbacks on the roster and if he thought about moving Jimmy Wilson back to corner) – “That’s certainly an option. We have originally until I believe 9 o’clock this evening before things are finalized. This is a very fluid time for the roster over the next couple of days. I remember as an assistant having a, making a change on a Tuesday of the game plan week, the first week of the season - letting a guy go that had been with us for a year and a half and taking a guy, getting a guy ready for a game in five days. So it’s an anxious time for a lot of players and coaches and, as a coach, you’d probably love to be settled in and know exactly who you have when you have a history with all those guys. But sometimes players come available and changes are made. I’m sure things still have to be done here obviously.”
(On if the preference is to leave Wilson at safety) – “We haven’t really gone down there yet. As you know, we still have some things we have to do and we want to obviously see what’s out there. To say we’re leaning one way or the other would probably be premature, but certainly he’s played that position. Good common sense would tell you that would be an option.”
(On how concerned he is with the winless preseason and not necessarily making the progress he had hoped for) – “Obviously, I was disappointed the other evening. I think we’ve made progress as a football team overall. I’d be really concerned if, we plan on starting Ryan Tannehill in the game and if he had thrown the ball into triple coverage seven or eight times in the preseason, I’d be really concerned. If our backs had just fumbled the ball incessantly I’d be very concerned. We do have to do some things better. There’s no doubt about it. Offensively, we’ve got to finish drives better. We’ve got to be better in the red zone. We’ve got to be better on third down and, if you’re not better on third down, sometimes it’s tough to get to the red zone. That’s something we’ve got to do better. Defensively, I think the things that we’ve talked about – we’ve got to tackle better. It’s really not that complicated of a game. We’ve got to do a better job there and I think we’ve got to disrupt the passing game better, whether it be re-routing receivers, whether it be putting more pressure on the quarterback. The quarterbacks are operating at too high of an efficiency against us and we’re not operating at high enough. We’re not getting enough chunk plays, big plays, explosive plays, call them what you want and we’re giving up too many. The third game of the year, what was Atlanta? I think I used 111 and we were 40 or something, 41. That’s a recipe for failure. Can’t do that.”
(On potentially keeping four quarterbacks on the roster) – “That’s possible. I think you’ve heard me say on multiple occasions what I think of the room - A, from an ability. B, a character. C, leadership. Those intangibles. I think you heard me talk about the improvement of Pat Devlin through the course of time that we’ve been here. We’ll see. I’m not exactly sure how long that’s going to be. Could be for a long time. I wouldn’t rule it out.”
(On with the new rule change to the IR if there’s a possibility quarterback David Garrard could be a candidate to be placed on it) – “I don’t know about that, but anything’s possible.”
(On the trend of team’s naming young quarterbacks as their starters given that Arizona became the 11th team to announce a young starting quarterback today) – “I would say it’s probably more of the 11 coaches. Again, I would imagine, certainly I don’t want to speak for Arizona or anybody else, but you have to, some of its instinct, some of it’s what you watch with your eyes over a long period of time, however long that player’s been with you. Part of it’s your gut and you just do what you think is in the best interest of the team and I’m guessing that’s probably what motivated just about every one of the 11 coaches to make whatever decision that they came to.”
(On fullback Jorvorskie Lane) – “There’s some fullbacks that are semi one dimensional. We call them maybe ‘Track blockers’ who can if everything’s real clear, they’ll go blow up a linebacker, but if there’s a stunt or a line moving, they’ve got to adjust their course. They don’t have the hips or athletic ability to kind of swivel through there and get their aiming point and they might not have great hands. They have value as a physical presence in the offense, which is great. But sometimes, they’re limited. Lane, I think, gives you, he has size. He’s got some natural pop in his body from a blocking standpoint. We feel like he’s got to do better. He didn’t do great the other night blocking. And he can catch the football as you saw and he’s got some natural, like I said, he’s a guy that in pickup football that you’d love on your team. He’s got some things that are hard to coach. You can’t simulate breaking three tackles necessarily like he did the other night. He broke some tackles against Atlanta. Again, those aren’t 50-yard plays. We understand that. Sometimes, the way defenses are designed today, getting the ball out to a runner in the flat even on a short pass and forcing them to tackle, a corner that maybe isn’t the most ambitious tackler in the world, that’s not a bad matchup sometimes.”
(On the reasons why Clyde Gates did not make the final roster and what made Marlon Moore stand out amongst the other receivers) – “It was unfortunate for Clyde. It was tough. Any time you part ways with a player it’s difficult. He certainly showed some flashes, and again I can’t speak for what happened a year ago, but the body of work that he was able to present to us didn’t show enough value in terms of keeping him in relation to the other guys he was competing against. Unfortunately for him, some of it, and you guys know you were at practice, but he missed a bunch of practice. I can’t sit up here and accurately quote how many days he missed, but he missed some and that’s part of the evaluation. It’s unfortunate. (Marlon) Moore, and certainly we didn’t keep him just because he caused a fumble on a special teams play, but he has some value on special teams. He caught the one ball he was thrown the other night and he has made a couple of catches. We think he’s earned the opportunity to be on the team.”
(On whether he has held back anything in the preseason that he will unveil once the regular season games begin) – “Oh boy I’d love to say that (laughing). Why don’t you put that in. Time will tell. I think you know me well enough, and I firmly believe that the team that will win the game on September 9th is going to execute better, is going to tackle better, is going to protect the quarterback better, protect the football better, not give up big plays. I don’t think it is going to be a mystery. I think Houston is very well coached and they’re doing an excellent job there, but I doubt (the game) will be won by either coaching staff’s smarts. I think it’s going to be won by good solid football, taking care of the ball, tackling, putting pressure on the quarterback, having some balance offensively. So I’d love to say that we have a whole lot of tricks up our sleeve, but the trick plays are good when you’re good on offense; when you’ve got some things and you’ve got an honest to goodness offense where you can run the ball a little bit, throw a screen, throw the ball down the field, get in empty, dump the ball to somebody. You know you’ve got to have some of that rhythm going, which let’s face it, we haven’t had a ton of that going.”
(On whether Hard Knocks has been what he has expected and whether he would do it again knowing what he knows now) – “I’m sure they want some other coach who’s got a little more flair than I do, so I’m sure they wouldn’t want us back. Honestly, I may have told you guys this before, I was not optimistic about doing it, and then Ken (Rodgers), from NFL Films and Ross Ketover came down and I listened, it just made sense. They seemed like quality people. The people that have been down here have been just fantastic, and if anybody called me and asked me, and maybe my perspective from other head coaches, I would say (yeah). After two or three days, again I’ve told you guys the story about the wire coming out of the shirt, but I think it’s been fine. I haven’t watched one of the shows, so I can’t speak to the impact that it’s had necessarily, but I think it’s been good. Steve tells me I look good on the show, Steve Ross, so I mean that means it must be good.”
(On the talk that he had with Daniel Thomas that aired on the last episode of Hard Knocks) – “I really like the kid. I think he has really improved. I think this training camp he’s really improved. He’s running the ball hard and physical, he’s stepped up in protection a couple of times very well. I’m excited about him; I think he’s got a chance to be a good player. Like I said, it’s an education. The funny thing about when you get into pro football, you know my background of 19 years in college, sometimes you think, even all the way through college, I went from Division III to Ohio University to the Mid-American Conference, and you think every player is a polished product, and doesn’t need coaching. Then you leave Harvard and go to the Big Ten and you think players don’t need you that much, they’re that good, they’re in the Big Ten so just roll the ball out. So in pro football you assume that these guys are men, they understand, they get it and know what to do all the time. It’s an education. I mean if you ask the players, we didn’t practice our pregame warm up. Remember I told you guys we were going to do it that Saturday, and because of the weather we didn’t do it. So our first pregame, it was awful against Tampa. I’m telling you it was terrible, and this is pregame warm up, it’s not that complicated, but it was bad. So we spent a lot of time, we rehearsed the whole and had a pretty good one going to Carolina. Well, at the team meeting on Tuesday night in Dallas, we put up the timeline, and I made a joke about one of the things, but I forgot to tell them that we were going to gather at the 40 yard line. Did you see where we came out, at the 50, in Dallas? So I didn’t cover that with those guys, and lo and behold they end up down on the goal line. So I said, ‘God Almighty, you’ve got to cover everything.’ So my point is, sometimes you have to educate. You know you’re a teacher and a coach, and hopefully at the end of the day, maybe some of those guys need it. Not everybody needs some of it; some of those guys get it already. But some guys need a reminder, and I don’t know how stern it was, but you owe it to them to at least sit to them face to face and tell them. Instead of saying, ‘that Thomas was late, that no good son of a gun,’ and whining and complaining to his position coach or something. You should just address it with the player and see if it changes. Hopefully it will; there’s no guarantee, but he’s practicing well and I’m looking forward to seeing him on the team this year.”
(On how much improvement he thinks a team can make by picking up players on the waiver wire and if he remembers any specific examples from his time in Green Bay) – “I don’t know how many guys were here when Donald Lee was here, but that’s who I was talking about. It’s Tuesday of the regular season and we’re getting ready to play, and we had a guy, Bubba Franks was in a holdout of something and David Martin, who played here, was hurt. So I wore this one guy out at tight end, I mean I killed him he got every rep; I was the tight end coach. He played special teams, and long story short, I had to bring him in on Tuesday, they bring in Donald Lee, and say Joe go and work him out, and they asked me the question, is he a better athlete than (the player), and I said, ‘yeah he is’. Can you coach him? So I spent an hour with him on the board, and I said, ‘yeah I think he’ll work at it. It might take a little time.’ So anyway, that Tuesday, we go and sign Donald Lee, and I think Donald Lee caught like 35 passes that year or something and made a nice contribution. We didn’t have him for OTAs, and I he has gone on and had a really nice career; I think he’s in Cincinnati now. So it happens, yeah it happens. Are you going to hit like that on every single one? I don’t know, probably not. You know when I was there one year with Mike (Sherman) when Mike was the head coach I think we signed Grady Jackson, not at this time of year but later in the year and he made a big difference in the run defense. So yeah I think you can. I think it’s unrealistic that you can hit… Let’s say we claim four guys, I’m just saying, are you going to hit four-for-four? Probably not, you’re not going to do it.”