Daunting question: To play or sit
The coach has to decide in the next two or three days whether or not to start Daunte Culpepper in the Dolphins first preseason game against Jacksonville Saturday. So he will have to measure the risk versus the reward to come up with the right answer.
How's he going to do that?
"Player safety is going to be the first thing," Saban said. "The goal and objective to this entire preseason, relative to the quarterbacks, is to get ready to play in the first [regular-season] game."
But that is not the only thing. Saban is not a mother hen with his players and realizes, "Hey it's going to happen sometime," regarding when exactly to let Culpepper finally test his surgically repaired knee in game action.
Also figuring into Saban's thinking is that Culpepper wants to play and every medical exam he has undergone suggests he can.
"He's further ahead in his physical rehabilitation and development than what we anticipated," Saban said. "From the day he came here, he's always been ahead, and he's just continued to build on that. We're very pleased with the progress that he's made."
Great. So does that mean Culpepper will play?
It says here it should mean Culpepper doesn't play. I understand the guy has to test the knee sometime and I understand the argument that once he takes that first big hit, his confidence in the reconstruction of the joint will soar.
Let him wait another week for that gleeful moment. The knee may be stronger by then, if even only by thismuch.
Let him wait another week. The offensive line in front of him may be better solidified by then, even if only by thismuch.
Let him wait another week. Daunte's confidence won't exactly go in the dumper if he's held out of the first preseason game.
Let him wait another week. Because it's the preseason for goodness sakes and player safety trumps macho bravado.
The idea here should be to get Culpepper online for the Sept. 7 REGULAR-SEASON opener. This is not that game. He can get equally prepared playing two or three preseason games. Playing seven plays against the Jags isn't going to change the direction of his season in a positive sense.
But it could derail it with one misplaced hit.
I've had this argument with my co-host on the Dolphins Insider, which airs weeknights on 1360 AM and online at 1360WKAT.com (this is called a plug in the business). Anyway he disagrees and says Culpepper needs to get out there.
What do you say?