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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Daunting question: To play or sit

Think of Nick Saban as one of those old fashioned scales that balances one side against the other to come up with the right measure.

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.

So what?

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 (this is called a plug in the business). Anyway he disagrees and says Culpepper needs to get out there.

What do you say?


Blogger Jeff said...

The decision of whether DC plays in the 1st pre-season game or not should soley rest on whether he is ready. If he is ready, play him. If he is not, don't. By adding all the ifs and what-nots to the equasion you are taking away from the fact that he is, indeed, a football player. If Coach and doctors deem him ready to play, let him do what he does. Glad our 1st rounder finally got signed!

12:00 PM  
Anonymous thomas said...

If he and many doctors say he can play, and if all the coaches see that he plays well in practice, then he should play one series. One series with no roll outs, draws, or allowing him to run if he wants. Make him stay in the pocket and if he leaves it then pull him.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous DUJUAN said...

It is time to begin re-acclimating D.C. to the game speed of the n.f.l. he has been out for nearly a year and to throw him up against the steelers defense with only a few series played in the 3 or fourth pre-season game, thinking that will be enough to get his timing and footwork ready for the blitzkrieg, would be a bad judgement call. he needs to play in these first 3 preseason games, and sit out the last.

12:51 PM  
Blogger DuJuan said...

Hey Armando, make sure you add an order of fries, and something to drink, so Tony can really enjoy that sandwich you buying today, for losing that bet! :)

12:57 PM  
Blogger DuJuan said...

with the release of will poole, only 6 out of the 43 players drafted or traded for during dave wannstink tenure are still with the team, with seth mckinney and wade smith (2 of the 6 left) on the way out.

1:17 PM  
Blogger NYdolfan84 said...

This is a tough decision, but if the medical tests suggest that their isn't additional risk whether he plays in the 1st or 2nd preseason game, I think he needs to get out there. He struggled when healthy last year, and he needs all the game-speed reps he can get before we face Pittsburgh.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

i agree with Jeff's reasoning. If he is cleared to play than play him. If he's not cleared than don't play him. Now I wouldn't go calling bootlegs and things like that. I think if anything you just want the stigma that comes with coming back off a major injury to be gone. I wouldn't even play him a quarter. two series unless they are 3 and outs.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I only have one concern for Culpepper to play: Can he protect himself? I haven't seen anything in practice that tells me he can. It's one thing to run around when guys can't hit you and you know they can't. It's another to be under live fire when you must make sudden movements.

Not saying Culpepper isn't ready. I just haven't seen proof that he is.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Kurt said...

If he can go he should go. I dont think the big guy has a confidence problem, so there is no upside to him personally one way or the other, but the upside for the team would be to silence the media asking team mates will he or wont he be ready. Put him out there, have him only heave long bombs from the shotgun and watch all the other defensive coordinators in the AFC east pucker up and start thinking about what they are going to do after being fired at the end of a very unsucessful season.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does 1360 AM pay you in pesos ?

5:27 PM  
Blogger Armando Salguero said...

In dollars, hater. Chaching!

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

Thanks from an out-of-town Fins fan for the radio station link :)

Oh ... and I think DC should sit. Later.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous mark said...

I'm excited to see DC play, but I think this could wait another week. I'm excited enough to see the Dolphins play their first game. Save the DC excitement for game 2.

More importantly, and this better not happen, but there are too many circumstances right now that would leave us second-guessing should DC get hurt in the first game. This would be the type of damage that could haunt the Dolphins all season, and maybe longer. Not worth the risk, in my opinion...

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with some of the other posters who think we should sit DC. It's too risky, getting on a field where guys can actually hit him means that he might get injured. For that matter, I think we should sit him all season; we don't want our franchise qb risking injury just for the sake of one season. Point is, football is not a sport for risk-averse people. When people are running full speed into each other, there's the chance people will get hurt. As long as Daunte can't get hurt simply running full speed, you have to put him out there. If you wouldn't sit him before his injury, you shouldn't sit him afterwards, either. As long as he's at no more risk to get injured now as he was before, you have to get him on a competitive field. He hasn't played competitive football in over a year.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Jon said...

He shouldn't play, not at home anyway with that infield dirt. It's just too risky IMO

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Mass Matt said...

If the man is ready, let him play. Every snap Mr. Culpepper takes this whole season will be a risk, and I don't think holding him back one more week is going to protect him much. We need him to take some major snaps in games two and three, so why not let him get the "back on the field" jitters out of the way now, so that DC can focus on game preparation unencumbered from here on out.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stupid to play him - It is preseason for God's sake! Most of the players think this time of the year is a complete waste anyway. Why risk your season on what you will see for five minutes? IF preseason is for anything, it is for assessing the talent that might not be witht he team in a few weeks. Use it for that.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is nothing tough about this descision. A single play in a meaningless preseason game could ruin the entire dolphins team. Yes, that is how much rides on him. We have all seen what the dolphins can do without a franchise quarterback. Another playoffless season.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

I can't determine wether or not Daunte Culpepper should start because I haven't seen him in Dolphins-camp at any time, but why not start him in the game against Jacksonville? Here's what I DO know, in the HOF game on Sunday, Donovan McNabb only played one offensive drive in the entire game, only threw 3 passes. Total amount of game time: about 5 minutes. So why can't Daunte throw three, or some number close to that? Why can't he play 5 minutes? It would certainly be a relief for Dol-fans to see how our next QB will fair and as well for Culpepper himself. Why Not...?

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let the other QBs get some playing time in the first game against the Jags. Let Mr. Culpeper wait two one more weeks. Let the Offense and offensive line work out those kinks that will allow the QB to be better protected. This will minimize the posible sack.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Ottawafan said...

It's been awhile since I have posted. I have kept silent since Armando has avoided any major blunders until now. Daunte is no more at risk now than he will be at any other time during the season (assuming he is cleared by the doctors) Should we wrap him in bubble wrap? Do any of you people who are advocating him sitting know anything about comming back from an injury? No matter what anyone says they are going to be tentative the first couple of times out after a major injury. Just by suiting up and getting into a game mentality will help the healing process. He may say he is conffident, he may even beleive it, but subconciously he needs to prove it to himself. And it's not just the injury, he needs to prove to himself that his game hasn't slipped. That last year's performance was an abberation. A few nice plays will start that process. Did anyone watch the Eagles game last week? Did you see how McNabb, comming back from an off year and a season ending injury, went out and played only the first series? Do you not think that he, the team and the coaches don't feel more confident? He went out, got a series under his belt threw 3 passes, and left feeling great about himself. Let Daunte play a series or two complete a couple of passes and then get him out of there. Let him feel good about himself. Plus he needs all the reps he can get to get ready for the lofty expectations everyone is predicting. Not to mention the defending champs. And as for this moronic "let the o-line gell first", please you could easily counter-argue that this is an ideal time since the oposing defence hasn't had time to gell yet either. In addition, teams usually don't blitz as much the first couple of pre-season games, not wanting to give anything away for the regular season. Or do you think that the first pressure he should face be against blitzburgh?

1:06 AM  
Anonymous igor said...

i agree with you for once

3:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i hate jason cole

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please write something regarding Manny Wright. People are acting as if he is weak for having to deal with a REAL problem. Curious about your thoughts. Thnx in advance.

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Kurt said...

I miss Jason Cole

6:42 PM  
Blogger Armando Salguero said...

I've talked to Jason Cole and he misses and hates you all also.

10:15 PM  

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