« Reasons abound for UM's optimism; Dolphins, Heat tidbits | Main | Henne addresses fans, says "no turning back" from new offense »

Monday update: Chatter on Dolphins' roster moves, other notes

 Besides the buzz columns on Wednesdays and Sundays and the media column on Fridays, we will offer a few other updates in this space during the week, sometimes specific to one team, sometimes with items from several teams.

 MONDAY UPDATE (Dolphins):

In the past two years, the Dolphins have signed five developmental players in the aftermath of the Labor Day weekend deadline to cut down to 53.

But that approach changed Monday, when the Dolphins signed two established backup types, one of whom should help immediately and one could if needed: tight end Dante Rosario and guard/center Ryan Cook, who also can play tackle.
 A bit of background on each:

 ### Rosario, cut by Denver on Saturday, should be a clear upgrade over Jeron Mastrud at backup tight end. In four years with Carolina, Rosario’s receptions increased every year from 6 to 18 to 26 to 32. He averaged 12 yards per catch in 2009, 8.3 in 2010.

 Rosario has started 22 games, including six last year, when he ranked 48th among 63 tight ends, according to Pro Football Focus.

“He had a pretty good season a year ago,” Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. “He runs really well. It’s a chance to add more speed and athleticism.”

### Cook “started at center, guard and tackle” for Minnesota “and has a lot of flexibility,” Sparano said. “Pretty steady guy.”

Cook, picked 51st overall in the 2006 draft, ranked 49th among 82 guards last season, according to PFF. He started 16 games in 2007, 14 in ’08 and seven last season. Overall, he has started 40 of 70 NFL games.

With the release of backup center Joe Berger, Cook likely would be the first veteran off the bench if any of the interior line starters is injured or leaves the game for another reason. Cook clearly would rank ahead of guard John Jerry.

Nate Garner also can fill in at guard or even center in a pinch, but Miami has listed him as a tackle. Ray Feinga also can play guard or tackle.

Miami is thin at backup tackle after losing Lydon Murtha, who is on injured reserve after surgery on an injured toe. “Big loss,” Sparano said.

 # # # #

Sparano said the Dolphins kept linebacker Austin Spitler over A.J. Edds (who was cut Monday) because Spitler “was further ahead.” Edds “missed a chunk of time” last year because he was on injured reserve with a knee injury.

### Sparano was non-committal about who will return punts and kickoffs. Phillip Livas, who was cut, got much of the work in preseason. Sparano could opt to use Davone Bess again on punts and either rookie Clyde Gates or incumbent Nolan Carroll on kickoffs. Gates averaged 26 yards on 20 kickoff returns for Abilene Christian last season. Sparano hasn't ruled out using Reggie Bush on punt returns on occasion; he has four career punt returns for touchdowns but has a lower overall return average than Bess the past two years.

 ### Sparano said if cornerback Jimmy Wilson is on the active roster on game days, his biggest responsibility will be on special teams. Four cornerbacks are ahead of him on the depth chart.


 #  #  #  # 

As next Monday’s opener against New England approaches, keep this in mind: After struggling at times against the Dolphins earlier in his career (when Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor were in their prime), New England’s Tom Brady has mostly had his way against Miami’s defense in recent years. Consider:

### In his past six games against Miami (five wins), Brady has completed 68.8 percent of his passes, with 15 touchdowns, five interceptions and a quarterback rating of 117.6.

### In the past four games since Vontae Davis and Sean Smith came into the league (three wins), Brady has completed 73 of 106 passes (68.8 percent), with six touchdowns and three interceptions and averaged 259 yards passing (a number that would be higher if he had played more in the season-ending blowout win in January).

### Here’s what also has hurt: Patriots receivers have averaged 153.7 in YAC in the past four games against Miami, accounting for 59.4 percent of their passing yards. In the six games he has played against the Dolphins, 309 of Wes Welker’s 545 receiving yards have been YAC.

But here’s the good news: Two of Davis’ five career interceptions were against Brady (in the 2009 season). That’s as many interceptions as Davis and Sean Smith combined for against the entire league all of last season, with each picking off one ball and Smith dropping a half dozen others.

 #  #  #  #
We won’t know for years whether any of the quarterbacks that the Dolphins passed on (or didn’t trade up for) in the draft will be better than Chad Henne.

But it’s clear none would have beaten out Henne immediately. The Dolphins preferred to use their first two picks on players who will play as rookies, and they will get that with Mike Pouncey and Daniel Thomas.

Henne had a 93.4 quarterback rating in preseason. By comparison, Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton was at 59.6, New England’s Ryan Mallett (who struggled somewhat after a strong first game) was at 72, Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert at 64.3 and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick at 23.9 (no touchdowns, five interceptions).

Jake Locker had the best rating among prominent rookie quarterbacks (88.5) but will back up Matt Hasselbeck in Tennessee. Christian Ponder (79.5) will back up Donovan McNabb in Minnesota.
Carolina’s Cam Newton and Dalton will start as rookies.