The Dolphins' fitness this offseason seems to be pretty good, according to coach Tony Sparano, who on Saturday spent some time talking about his and his players' health issues.
Sparano confirmed he spent some time in a hospital two weeks ago before going to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. He denied rumors the visit was caused by an irregular heartbeat.
"To be honest with you, for me, it was one those routine and get checked up kind of things," Sparano said. "They said I'm healthy as a cow. Or horse.
"I feel great. I feel really good. I'm going to take a break this week on Thursday."
Sparano looked fine, with plenty of color and energy, so there is no reason to think he's not well. As to the players, Sparano seemed upbeat, even saying rookie guard Donald Thomas will be healthy enough to take part in the offseason conditioning program.
"Players are getting healthy," he said. "They're doing a nice job right now. Some of the guys that were injured that need to rehab are in that rehab phase. It's too early to tell with someof them right now. We just finished this thing. Thankfully, other than the obvious injuries, the Camarillo's and the Smiley's, Donald Thomas is really doing pretty well right now. Other than those injuries there really was nothing that came at the end of the year that was significant."
I asked if Thomas, who suffered a foot injury in the regular-season opener and missed the rest of the season, would be inthe offseason program that begins in March. "Oh, Ibelieve so," Sparano said. "I can't put my finger on that yet. But I would say so. He's doing pretty well."
As to the health of Miami's roster, Sparano agrees with football czar Bill Parcells that the Dolphins have much improvement to do. Parcells said Friday the Dolphins need "more firepower."
"I'm not going to identify specific areas, but there are several areas we need to get better in," Sparano said. "Quite honestly, when you're a young team like us, we can get better in a lot of areas out there."
The interesting thing about the Dolphins is that they could easily improve next year and not have that improvement show dramatically in the won-loss record based on the fact the schedule seems tougher for 2009 than it was in 2008.
"It's not something I've sat there and really thought about," Sparano said. "I know we need some pieces to continue to get better and I think that was the plan when we came here. We knew we weren't going to solve everything in year one. We were fortunate to have a little bit of success but we will have a tougher road this yearwhen you look at the schedule.
"That's hard to tell because every year, I don't think people expected some of the teams we played this year not to be ... When you look at this whole thing down the road, I don't know where this whole thing will take us. It's our job to make the sure the team is better and is as well prepared as we can we get out there."