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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For Miami it's about The Code, for us it's about a contest

The Dolphins have a marketing problem and they know it. They haven't made the playoffs since 2002. They were the worst team in the NFL last year. And they didn't exactly go out this offseason and wow anybody -- either with mega-signings during free agency or a sexy first overall draft selection.

So the question is how to get people interested enough to buy tickets and fill seats.

I would suggest win games. I would also suggest the team play nice with the media instead of having one of the worst media policies in the NFL which effectively prevents fans from getting to know players, coaches or anyone else.

But, alas, the Dolphins haven't asked nor care for my opinion. Instead they have come out with a marketing campaign whose slogan is "Respect the Code."

In the coming weeks and months, potential ticket buyers will hear about what The Code means. To hear the Dolphins tell it, it means loyalty and sacrifice and honor and courage and commitment and hard work.

I will now resist the strong temptation to mock this as hooey. You, however, are free to tell me what you think of this coming marketing campaign.

Do you buy it? Do you even understand it? And can you do better?

Tell you what: Best alternative marketing campaign idea will receive from me the privilege of writing a blog entry about the Dolphins in this main space sometime in the next two weeks. Your picture will be included in the space and I will keep your entry up for at least 24 hours.

I will be judge and jury for this contest so here's a hint: I'm partial to comedy. But you are free to try what you will as long as you keep it free of profanity and bad taste. So show your imagination. You could become famous.

Gholston versus Long rivalry has gone pro

Jake Long and Vernon Gholston know each other pretty well. They played against each other the past several years while Long was the left tackle for Michigan and Gholston played defensive end for Ohio State.

They are represented by the same sports agency. And now they'll be seeing each other twice a year in the AFC East games between the Dolphins, who picked Long No. 1 in the draft, and Jets, who took Gholston with the No. 6 pick.

Building rivalry? No doubt.

Blowout rivalry that Long's one sack allowed in 2007 suggest? Nope.

Long's one sack allowed came against, you guessed it, Gholston. And Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel told Newsday today the matchup was not as one-sided as the highlights shown during the draft suggested.

"You know, in all the highlights on Saturday, I never saw any of those plays where [Gholston] carried Jake Long into the quarterback's lap," Tressel told Newsday.

The article did not include from Tressel the answer to key followup questions: How many plays are you talking about specifically, and what exactly happened on those plays as a result?

It is universally acknowledged that Long was the more consistent college player. It is also universally acknowledged that Gholston is something of an athletic freak of nature. So what we have here is an opportunity to see those two guys go at it for years to come.

We'll see who comes out ahead in the NFL. And we'll see if Miami's pick of Long at No. 1 pays the dividends the team hopes.

[By the way folks: The Dolphins are soon expected to announce they have released nose tackle Steve Fifita and quarterback Matt Baker. Not big news but thought you'd like to know.]

Monday, April 28, 2008

Jason Taylor saga will become heated barring trade

Late Sunday evening when I came to understand the full scope of the current relationship between Jason Taylor and Bill Parcells, I felt like the referee in the middle of a cable television wrestling match.

I wrote about that decaying relationship in my column Monday [read it here:] and basically advocated that Taylor and Parcells should just forget their differences, call each other, and make nice.

I am told that is not going to happen.

What is more likely to happen is that as early as TODAY the Taylor camp will call the Dolphins and renew its request to be traded. Agent Gary Wichard is scheduled to call Parcells or general manager Jeff Ireland and once again remind the Dolphins that Taylor wants to play for a playoff-caliber team in 2008. He will also remind them the Dolphins are not a playoff-caliber team, no matter what they might want you to believe.

If that renewed request doesn't get results look for more drastic measures on the horizon. If Jason Taylor is still on Miami's roster at the start of training camp in July, do not be surprised if he declines to report.

And if he's on the roster at the start of the season in September, don't be surprised if he threatens to retire.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, would be retaliating with fines for every day Taylor misses in training camp and grow angrier that such a distraction is threatening to overshadow the building of a team. And knowing the antagonists involved, don't be surprised if it gets personal when folks become frustrated enough to start speaking on the issue publicly.

The point is this was once a win-win situation that now could turn lose-lose.

If the Dolphins did the logical thing and traded Taylor for a draft pick or picks, they would have added ammunition for building their team. Taylor, meanwhile, would have been happy to thank the team for 11 wonderful seasons and gone onto trying to win a championship for himself and new team. Win-win.

But the Dolphins put a ridiculous asking price on Taylor (a first round pick) that no one was willing to pay. So of course, no one made a trade offer. So Taylor is still on the team, but he may sit out while the team has a soap opera on its hands. Lose-lose.

If the Dolphins had strong leadership from managing partner Wayne Huizenga this would be over. The man who has employed Taylor for 11 years could easily step in and order Parcells and Ireland to trade Taylor. Case closed. He obviously hasn't done that for reasons only he understands.

So while these two trains build up steam and roll headlong at each other, we should realize there seems very little chance of the reconciliation I was calling for in my column. Either Taylor is traded or it's going to get ugly.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Live blogging starts right now ...

....The Dolphins are on the clock.

For today, I say a WR, RB, NT, G/RT, and maybe a trade here and there.

Fact is the Dolphins and Detroit have made a trade, swapping picks in the third round.

The Dolphins move from 64 to 66 and pick up Detroit's sixth round pick, which is 176 overall.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bad news for Beck: You're not one of Bill's peeps

One thing I think we all should have learned about Bill Parcells by now is that he knows who he likes and doesn't like and he is loyal to his peeps.

H fired Randy Mueller and Cam Cameron, in part, because he didn't know them. He hired Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano, in part, he knew them and felt comfortable with them. Parcells is big on familiarity and that's the reason he's got a corps of assistant coaches that follow him from place to place.

Picking his guys and sticking with them is HUGE for Parcells.

And that is the reason John Beck should be worried.

Beck is not a Parcells guy. Parcells didn't scout him, didn't draft him, didn't sign him. And that makes Beck the only one of Miami's three quarterbacks that Parcells did not pick or scout or sign.

Parcells inherited Beck from the previous regime while he went out and got Josh McCown as a free agent and drafted Chad Henne Saturday.

So that puts Beck at a disadvantage. Henne and McCown are not going to get a free ride by any means, but I do believe they rate higher than Beck in the mind of Parcells -- because they were picked by Parcells.

That means any tie on any matter goes to McCown and Henne. And not Beck. For Beck to win the coming quarterback competition -- assuming he's even in the competition, by the way -- he's going to have to outplay the other two.

Ties go to the other guys because they are Parcells guys.

One final thought: Yes, I said assuming he's in the competition. It is a big assumption, in my opinion. Given what I've seen of how Parcells has basically torn up the roster -- with the latest move being a trade of running back Lorenzo Booker -- I would not be surprised if Beck ends up traded or cut altogether by this time next year.

The only way he avoids that fate is by being waaay better than Henne and McCown. It's the only way he overcomes not being one of The Big Tuna's peeps.

[I will be blogging live starting at 10 a.m. Sunday. Yes, I'm missing church to be with you, so show up!]

Jags trade-up to get DE hurts Dolphins

You can remove one of the teams that had shown the most interest in trading for Jason Taylor from the list of possibilities.

The Jacksonville Jaguars traded up from No. 26 to No. 8 today and used the pick on Florida DE Derrick Harvey. Harvey had all of 4.5 sacks last season and yet the Jags gave up their pick in the first round (No. 26 overall, along with their two third round picks) for the chance to move up.

So where does that leave the Dolphins as they try to trade Taylor?

Philadelphia, Washington, Dallas, and lately San Diego and Green Bay are showing as the biggest interest if a trade is to be made.

Frankly, I don't see anyone giving up a first round pick for Taylor, however. We'll see.

[I am blogging live now, commenting on picks and other stuff as it happens. Join me there and let me know what you think of what is going on.]

Friday, April 25, 2008

Dolphins make trade but not the one you think

The Dolphins tonight acquired linebacker Akin Ayodele and tight end Anthony Fasano from the Cowboys for a fourth-round draft pick. The Dolphins are scheduled to have seven picks Saturday after giving selection No. 100 to Jerry Jones and Co.
Ayodele became expendable in Dallas when the Cowboys upgraded by signing, you got it, Zach Thomas. Fasano, a second round pick in 2006, had been lost behind Jason Witten. He will be able to compete with David Martin for a starting job in Miami which basically means he will be the starter in Miami.
It's a good deal as Ayodele is a pretty fair player with plenty of experience, yet young enough to get better. Fasano is merely so-so, having not yet lived up to his draft pedigree, but the Dolphins have very little at that position now anyway.
The trade was first reported by the Dallas Morning News.
Not the trade news you expected for Saturday, right?
Well, relax. There will be plenty of Jason Taylor trade drama Saturday. Much.

Travolta, I mean Taylor, has requested through his agent to be traded. Actually, a request is kind of soft. He pretty much has demanded a trade. That is the primary reason Miami general manager Jeff Irleand has been calling teams during the past week, shopping Taylor (pictured).

The most interested teams -- and thus most likely to make a trade for Taylor if one happens at all -- are Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Washington and Denver.

But there are problems: The Dolphins want a first-round pick for Taylor because they rightly argue that consistent right defensive ends -- the guys who go up against premier left tackles -- are in short supply.
They argue Taylor is one of only 15 players in the league that had double-digit sacks last year. They argue he has had no drop in production despite his advancing age.

And so they want a first round draft pick. Firm.

But as of this writing, no one is willing to make that deal, particularly considering Taylor is 33 years old and his desire to enter show business is not a secret around league circles. Remember that I reported Tuesday the Dolphins were firmly saying they are not trading Taylor? Don't take that necessarily as, "He's not on the market." He obviously is. Take it as, "We know what we want, we know what is being offered. It ain't happening."

It also isn't helping Miami's cause that Oakland is apparently shopping defensive end Derrick Burgess, who had eight sacks last season. Burgess is not as good as Taylor. But the Raiders aren't expecting a first round pick, either.

So we shall see what happens Saturday. But to assume this will pass into the night after Saturday is to forget my theory about the Dolphins: They are a circus.
The Dolphins don't lose if they don't trade Taylor this weekend. They can keep him for now and still can trade him before the October trade deadline for a 2009 first round pick. In fact, the market for a 2009 pick might be better than it is for a 2008 pick.

Also, if the Dolphins don't trade Taylor, they still win because they keep what is by all accounts a good player. And isn't stockpiling good players a goal in the NFL?

I would, nonetheless, tell you there is a definite drawback to keeping Taylor.

He definitely wants out. Very badly, in fact. And it remains unclear what he might resort to if he doesn't get his way.
If that sounds serious, it's because it is serious. It is more serious than those days when Taylor didn't like Nick Saban initially. It is more serious than when he didn't like Cam Cameron for not deferring to him.
Today Jason Taylor is a man who feels personally insulted by the Dolphins. That is a result of an incident last week when he visited the team while on break from his dancing. During that visit Taylor was treated coldly by both coach Tony Sparano and Bill Parcells. So now he apparently feels disrespected.
And that brush-off could lead to Taylor's send-off.
The Dolphins argue they're not thrilled about Taylor spending his spring dancing. They might say, "What did Taylor want us to do during his visit? Applaud that he has blown off the offseason work other players are doing?"
Taylor might counter he's always in shape and will remain that way regardless of whether he's dancing or lifting weights with the rest of his teammates. He might more vehmently and rightfully argue, "At least treat me like a man who has earned your respect over an 11-year career."
What there can be no argument about is that this is a broken situation.
And that means Taylor might have agent Gary Wichard turn up the public heat on Miami if a trade isn't made this weekend. It's not what Wichard, a classy agent, wants to do.

But it wouldn't surprise me one bit if we've not heard the last of this drama.

[I will be blogging live on Saturday once something important happens for the Dolphins. I figure I'll be on here around 5 p.m. So join me here then. Meanwhile, I'll be on 790 The Ticket from 1-3 p.m. if you need to insult me earlier than usual.]

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Some players Miami will look at with the rest of the draft

OK guys here are some names of players I have unearthed that the Dolphins are very, very, very interested in. This is not a complete list by any means but it includes names you might not have seen mentioned by other news sources.

We know Jake Long is a done deal. But the rumors about the Dolphins liking other Michigan players based on the friendship between Bill Parcells and Lloyd Carr are accurate. When Long visited the Dolphins a while back, receiver Mario Manningham and quarterback Chad Henne were also here.

The three had dinner with coach Tony Sparano, GM Jeff Ireland and offensive coordinator Dan Henning. Henne worked out for the Dolphins, by the way, but he also worked for the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Falcons.

Watch for Manningham as third round pick if he's around. He didn't run well (4.6) at the combine and had issues with marijuana but that might still make him a value in the third round or even the fourth round. Another Michigan player the Dolphins like on the second day is Michigan receiver Adrian Arrington.

Arrington is neither fast, explosive nor a great route runner. But he is has good hands, is a fine blocker, isn't afraid to go over the middle and, at nearly 6-3, has the body to get bigger and stronger.

We know the Dolphins love Auburn linebacker/defensive end Quentin Groves (pictured). He's the guy I believe the team will take with No. 32, if he is available. They also like Auburn DT Pat Sims as a second-round pick. Another possible second round pick is Penn State inside linebacker Dan Connor who is a little light for the 3-4 at 230 pounds, but could easily add some bulk.

Connor had character issues. He missed three games in 2005 after he got caught making harassing phone calls. But that is reportedly is something Connor addressed with the Dolphins during his visit with them.

Sims has good bulk and he is VERY explosive off the ball which typically makes him a disruptive force when he can disengage from the center. Keep your eyes on him when the Dolphins are picking in the second round.

The Dolphins still have not made a decision on Reagan Mauia following his arrest for punching somebody at an Ale House parking lot earlier this month. So look for them to hedge their bet by adding a fullback either in the draft or as an undrafted free agent. Miami likes Idaho fullback Rolly Lumbala, who worked out for them.

I realize the Dolphins are telling everyone Vernon Carey is going to right tackle. But the fact of the matter is the previous regime finished last season convinced Carey is best suited for a guard position. I don't know if this regime shares that idea but I do know the Dolphins really like Toledo offensive tackle John Greco.

Greco has drawn interest from numerous clubs over the past few months, including formal interviews at the Combine with San Diego, Miami, Dallas, Arizona, St. Louis, Detroit and Indianapolis. The Colts and Miami were also prominent among the teams that were looking at him recently.

Greco seems like a perfect right tackle candidate.

The Dolphins need a tight end because David Martin simply didn't get it done last year. Watch for Tennessee's Brad Cottam, who had personal workouts with the Miami, the Chiefs, Falcons, Browns and Jets. Cottom is a second-day player also. University of Miami linebacker Tavares Gooden showed great speed at the Combine. He visited the Dolphins during their chats with local players but he didn't work out for them then. He would be a good value in the third round. The Ravens love the kid, but they love many UM players.

Finally, watch for Purdue CB Terrell Vinson. Purdue's productive cornerback has received repeated inquiries from the Cleveland Browns, but he's also been in contact with the Dolphins, Panthers, Texans, Colts, Chiefs, and Vikings recently.

He is 5-9 and 183 pounds and, as you might guess at that size, he is quick, running the 40 in 4.47. But he is deceptively strong having done 16 reps of the 225 pound bench press at the Combine.
[Thursday evening update] I continue to be told that even though there is much fanfare about the possibility the Dolphins will take Joe Flacco, it just doesn't seem to be the thing the team will do. Flacco does indeed have a great arm and potential.
But he is erratic with his delivery and his footwork is atrocious. Part of the problem is he spent most of his career in a shotgun offense and that hurts because he not only has to straighten out the footwork, he has to correct the problem of taking snaps from center which he displayed at the Senior Bowl. Also, this guy didn't beat out Tyler Palko at Pitt!
The Dolphins haven't really been calling him or his agent, so I just don't see the connection to him. Another thing: He seems a value in the third round but not any earlier.

I will add more names as I come across them. I will also do a live chat on The Herald website from 1-2 p.m on Friday. Join me there. I will be on 790 The Ticket from 1-3 p.m. Saturday so you can listen locally or on the Internet at Feel free to call with your comments.

I will be blogging live from Dolphins camp once the draft begins. Join me here then.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Taylor wants to play in 2008 but 2009 another story

On April 1, website celebrated the foolishness of the day by posting a spoof basically saying Jason Taylor was retiring from football because he had been bitten by the show business bug and wanted to devote his life to dance.

Within hours of the post, several Dolphins players, who apparently think everything the site posts is gospel, were either calling Taylor or sending text messages seeking confirmation of the so-called news.

Taylor eventually answered saying the “rumor mill” post was not true – what a shock – and he had every intention of playing in 2008.


In those very responses Taylor also told his teammates and friends that he could not and would not guarantee playing in 2009, which is scheduled to be the final year of his current contract.

Taylor, you see, has every intention of going into show business very soon. He has been pleasantly surprised by his ongoing success on Dancing with the Stars. His cha-cha was rewarded with another week of life on the show Tuesday night. He believes he's gotten more attention and will have more business opportunities based on that show's run than he got all these past years as a Dolphin.

Taylor’s intentions to seek Hollywood movie or TV fame are not new. What is new is the shifting of his priorities between football and show business.

After the 2006 season, Taylor turned down a show business opportunity because the Dolphins had a new coach coming in – again – and he decided participating in the team’s voluntary offseason program and pleasing Cam Cameron was more important than pursuing the opportunity.

Taylor and his agent Gary Wichard, who along with Taylor dislikes Cam Cameron, regretted that decision.

So when Dancing was offered this offseason, Wichard worked to convince Taylor to take it even though it meant missing the offseason program instituted by Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano, regardless of how it made the new guys feel.

This is not to suggest football is no longer important to Taylor. But it should clearly show that show business is growing in importance for Taylor.

He has told teammates he will try for and audition, if he must, for every reality television and movie role that seems attainable. He hopes that won’t interfere with football. But if it does as the 2009 season draws close, show business may win out over football.

And that brings us to this weekend.

The Dolphins now have a player who will be 34 years old in September. He is on the roster but not on the field with his teammates during the current offseason program. Coach Tony Sparano has been publicly supportive of Taylor’s dancing.

But Bill Parcells has got to be seething privately.

How else would tough guy Parcells view that one player is skipping Miami’s workout program, lifting absolutely no free weights as Parcells wants his players to do, and is instead dancing six to eight hours a day?

Does that sound like a Parcells player to you?

For that reason and the short shelf life I have outlined above, I believe the Dolphins will not only listen to trade offers for Taylor this weekend, but actively seek them. I agree with NFL Network analyst Adam Schefter who today said he thinks it is better than 50-50 that Miami trades Taylor.

The price will not be cheap. After the Jared Allen trade set the market pretty high for a pass-rusher, I think the Dolphins would trade Taylor for a pick anywhere between No. 26 and No. 45ish. I know Parcells has vowed not to trade Taylor. But things change.

And based on the fact the player would rather play on a contender than the Dolphins -- which was reported by me March 10 -- and based on the fact Taylor is not certain about playing at all in 2009, trading him would certainly be the wise thing to do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

They've started something they still have to finish

Now that Jake Long is penciled in as Miami's starting left tackle, I wish to remind you of one small detail that threatens to be lost following today's signing: The Dolphins are still on the freakin' clock.

The job is not finished. The team still has much work to do. And with eight more selections in the draft to finish what they have started, one hopes the Dolphins can turn this draft into a boon.

I remind you the team still needs a starting guard, an inside linebacker or two would be good, a quarterback, a cornerback, a 3-4 defensive end capable of playing the run, and possibly a fullback are needs.

I also like the idea of getting a 3-4 rush linebacker because I simply don't see Jason Taylor as being long for this team whether he is traded or not.

I will write about specific players the Dolphins may be looking at in tomorrow's Herald. Feel free to leave me players you like in picks 32 through 245.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dolphins handle negotiations without gimmicks

The much anticipated multi-front negotiation with potential first overall picks the Dolphins were said to be preparing has not happened and, by the most rudimentary uses of logic, will not happen because it is simply too late in the draft game to make it work.

The Dolphins talked to Jake Long's agent for the first time about two weeks ago and haven't talked to anyone else. Now, only five days from selection day, it is clear there will be no talks with Chris Long or Vernon Gholston or Matt Ryan or Glenn Dorsey.

Jake Long is Miami's man. And Jake Long will probably be drafted and agree to a contract with Miami, although not necessarily in that order.

So wha happen?

Why didn't the Dolphins open negotiations with another first pick candidate, if for no other reason than to use it as leverage against Jake Long? Why didn't the team try to ensure a discount for signing that first pick while at the same time hedging its bet against a holdout?

Let's count the reasons.

First, the Dolphins clearly decided Jake Long is their man. This was apparently decided as early as March when I first told you they had set their draft board. After this decision, the team apparently made the next logical decision -- rightly, I think -- to open negotiations in GOOD FAITH.

Tom Condon, who represents Jake Long, is a veteran agent who doesn't intimidate easily. He knows the game and knows how to play. And it was wise on the Dolphins part not to mess too much with what could be a good thing by explicitly imposing negotiation deadlines and threatening to go elsewhere if they didn't get their way.

By keeping this negotiation free of gimmicks, the Dolphins hoped to get, and apparently got, a clean negotiation free of unnecessary drama. Of course, they still held the card of moving on if the talks didn't move forward -- and that was the implicit deadline I told you about last week. But there has not been a written or spoken deadline by which Condon was forced to work.

Another reason the Dolphins haven't talked to other players thus far -- and likely will not barring a total collapse of these talks -- is that they really want Jake Long. He fills a need. He is likely to be a good player. He is a safe pick in that he has no questionable background. And if he falters as a left tackle, he can always play right tackle.

There is also the agent factor that worked against Miami. Although Long has been their choice for a while, it's not a blowout decision. The team likes Matt Ryan. The team likes Vernon Gholston. The team likes Chris Long.

But to play hardball with Jake Long's agent didn't serve a purpose because the Dolphins couldn't really turn and say, "We're going to open talks with Gholston and get a better deal." The reason is Condon's agency also represents Gholston. And Condon's agency also represents Matt Ryan.

Miami really had nowhere to turn other than to Chris Long and his agent Marvin Demoff if the talks with Condon became ugly. Guess what? Marvin Demoff is not the type of agent that gives discounts either. When he caught wind of the bogus Internet talk about the Dolphins passing on their pick then selecting his client fourth or fifth in order to pay less for the pick, Demoff told reporters that if Miami picked his client after pulling that prank, he would demand to be paid like the first overall pick.

So forget using Demoff as a legitimate foil against Condon.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I believe Condon is aware enough of the financial environment he's operating in with the Dolphins that he isn't going to try and steal the silverware after being invited to dinner. There is prestige in representing the first overall pick. Condon didn't want to screw that up.

For those many reasons, the negotiation with Jake Long seems pointed toward a successful conclusion by 3 p.m. Saturday. It is doubtful the Dolphins will get the huge discount everyone, including myself, predicted they would get out of this negotiation. But neither will they get fried like a plump chicken leg as the Raiders did last year in the JaMarcus Russell negotiations.

At the end of the day, the Dolphins should get their man. And their man will get a contract representative of his status as the first overall pick.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ozzie Newsome: Dolphins not picking Jake Long

Ozzie Newsome knows the Dolphins need an offensive tackle. He is aware the Dolphins are talking to Jake Long. But that doesn't make him believe the Dolphins are going to actually draft Jake Long.

No way, he says.

“I think one of the best parts of the draft is the intrigue that goes with it with what other teams are going to do," Newsome said. "Right now, probably half of you think Jake Long is going to be the No. 1 pick. I’d probably smile and say that’s not going to happen. And, [Miami is] negotiating with the kid right now, for whatever reason."

Newsome believes the Dolphins are still desperately trying to trade out of the top pick but would end up picking Chris Long if they have to stay at No. 1. Newsome's guess is as good as any because he bases how he handles the Baltimore draft, in part, on how Parcells has traditionally done things.

“I give Bill a lot of credit," Newsome said. "You probably can take eight to 10 teams in this draft that are byproducts of what Bill started with the New York Giants. You take New England, then you have Atlanta, the Jets, you have us, Jacksonville and Cleveland.

"A lot of what we do started in New York with Bill Parcells. Now, he has the first pick. But, I go to sleep every night – and this is what I learned from the first draft when we were picking fourth: If you’ve got four players, the other teams can’t get four. They can get three. So, I can go to sleep every night knowing that if we have eight players, we are going to get one of those eight. That’s the comfort level I have. I have spent a lot of time with Bill. But he is not going to tell me, and he’s definitely not going to tell you all."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dolphins as a punchline is getting very old

The guys on ESPN were really yukking it up this evening when they replayed the 52 seconds during which Jeff Ireland, Miami's general manager, suffered his "Freudian Slip" moment.

You know the instance, when Ireland said he wants the first overall selection to be "a pillar of the defense," for years to come when he really meant to say "a pillar of the team."

Saying a pillar of the defense suggests Ireland and the Dolphins are going to pick a defensive player even though they are only negotiating with offensive tackle Jake Long as of this writing. Ireland was unaware he said defense and, when told, corrected himself even as his face was turning red.

He then admitted saying defense was a "Freudian slip," and tried to move on. But the error is made. And it was an error. I was there, and believe me, he didn't say "defense" to throw the rest of the NFL off a scent. He simply misspoke and the gaff is already on

"I'm going to watch the next Jeff Ireland press conference," ESPN analyst and former Tennessee Titans GM Floyd Reese said on national TV. "I want to see if there are any Bill Parcells finger prints around his throat."

Ha ha. Very funny, Floyd.

But here's the problem with that humor: I personally am tired of the jokes.

I really wish the Dolphins could get to a place where they no longer are a joke. Their fans, rabid and mostly knowledgeable, deserve to root for a team that isn't a punchline. But, sadly, it's been a looong time since the Dolphins weren't Dave Letterman or Jay Leno fodder.

Last year they were not only bad, but they had Dr. Strangelove as the head coach saying things like, "Today we drafted the Ted Ginn family," or proclaiming he wanted the team to "fail forward fast," or "I want to see that thumb go this direction." The Dolphins were a joke and being 1-15 was only part of the reason.

Before that, Nick Saban was a cartoon character in headsets. Before that Dave Wannstedt and Rick Spielman were dumb and dumber. Before that Jimmy Johnson and Dan Marino played out a weekly soap opera -- as the Dolphins turn -- and the game pushed both out of the NFL was a 62-7 debacle.

And now, all of three press conferences into his career as Miami's GM, Ireland has already made his youtube debut and pundits are making fun of him and the team. Again.

Sure, it's great if you aren't a Dolphins fan and can use the Dolphins as an example of how bad things can get. It is moments like this and the others I've mentioned that cause fans in New York and Buffalo and New England to laugh at Miami.

But I, for one, am kind of sick of the pratfalls and pitfalls.

So here's a novel idea for the Dolphins: Be entertaining, sure. Have fun. But do it on the field. That is the proper stage for fun times.

Unfortunately, it's been a long time since that happened.

Ireland reveals (really little) nuggets of information

Jeff Ireland just talked for 23 minutes and there were parts that were interesting. Here they are initially:

The Dolphins have fielded calls about trading for the first pick, according to Ireland. Nothing apparently is imminent if anything were to happen at all.

"People are interested," Ireland said. "People are always interested in the first pick. I'm not going to tell you what people are asking or offering. But I would think the talks would heat up next week."

Ireland slipped when he was talking about what he expects from the first overall pick. "This guy is going to be the pillar of your defense," Ireland said of the first pick.

Really? Defense?

"That was a Freudian slip," he said under his breath.

Someone then asked if it was a smokescreen. "I'll let you guys decide," he answered.

I've decided it was not an intentional attempt to mislead. The guy simply misspoke. Don't know if that means he was saying something he shouldn't or simply let words fall out of his mouth without really measuring them first.

I asked him about the speculation the Dolphins might pass on the first pick. He initially waved off the question, but when pressed whether he could put that rumor to rest, he said, "yes," as in that is not happening.

Finally there is clear indication that Reagan Mauia's status with the team will depend on what the team's internal investigation reveals about his recent arrest for battery at a local Ale House. Ireland said he needed all the details before making an "intelligent decision," which obviously means a decision is pending.

FYI: Ireland would not discuss what he called strategy, so there was no talk about Jake Long and negotiations and a deadline in those negotiations.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What are your questions for Jeff Ireland?

General Manager Jeff Ireland will talk to the media about the draft Thursday.

This will be the last time the organization is scheduled to discuss draft matters publicly before the April 26-27 selections.


What do you want to know?

Tell me what questions you have for Ireland. I just might add the good ones to my list of questions.

Oh, by the way, don't bother asking, "Who are you going to pick?" I've already asked that and didn't get much of an answer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dolphins to play Bills in Canada

The NFL schedule is coming out in a few minutes but one thing I can tell you will happen for sure is the Dolphins will continue their international travels.

The team will play the Buffalo Bills in Toronto Dec. 7th at 4:05 p.m.

The Bills are playing a couple of games in Toronto this season to expand their fan base. Last season the Dolphins played the New York Giants in London.

Interesting ay?

The Dolphins will open the season with the Jets at home on Sept. 7th and finish with the Jets on the road Dec. 28th.

Miami's schedule is the most unbalanced in the league. Starting Oct 5th and spanning through November 23rd, the team will play six of eight games at home. But ...

Starting November 30th, the Dolphins will play four of their final five games on the road. Note that there are no prime time games (Monday or Sunday night) scheduled now. That is typical for a team not expected to be among the premier teams. If the Dolphins surprise, the can be flexed, so to speak, into Sunday night games late in the season.

The schedule

Aug. 16 at Jacksonville Jaguars 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 23 KC CHIEFS 7:30p.m.
Aug. 28 at New Orleans Saints 8:00 p.m.


Sept. 7 NEW YORK JETS 1 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Arizona Cardinals 4:15 p.m.
Sept. 21 at New England Patriots 1 p.m.
Sept. 28 BYE
Oct. 12 at Houston Texans 1 p.m.
Oct. 26 BUFFALO BILLS 1 p.m.
Nov. 2 at Denver Broncos 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 16 OAKLAND RAIDERS# 1 p.m.
Nov. 30 at St. Louis Rams# 1 p.m.
Dec. 7 at Buffalo Bills (Toronto)# 4:05 p.m.
Dec. 14 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS# 1 p.m.
Dec. 21 at Kansas City Chiefs# 1 p.m.
Dec. 28 at New York Jets# 1 p.m.

*All times are eastern.
#Games whose starting time can potentially be moved, including 8:15 p.m. Sunday on NBC-TV.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dolphins trying to roll back cost of No. 1 pick

In a post last week I suggested you stop thinking about which player the Dolphins will pick with the first overall selection and think more along the lines of which CONTRACT the Dolphins will offer their first overall selection.

That's because the team is more likely to pick a player that will agree to the contract it has in mind.

Well, the Dolphins have a contract on the table to Michigan's Jake Long and guess what? It is for less money than what last year's first overall pick got.

Last year the Raiders gave JaMarcus Russell a staggering six-year, $62 million deal that included $31 million in guaranteed money.

The Dolphins have no desire or intention of reaching the $30 million guaranteed money plateau. They are looking to roll back the guaranteed money closer to 2006 levels when Mario Williams signed a six-year contract worth $54 million.

Williams initially received $21.75 million in guarantees that was increased to $26.5 million after the Texans exercised an option a year later that added that sixth season to the deal.

So the Dolphins are looking to reel in either Jake Long, or Chris Long or Glenn Dorsey or Vernon Gholston for six years and about $55 million with about $25-$27 in guarantees.

How can they roll back the price of paying the first overall pick, you ask?

Well, they are going to ask for, and get, the non-quarterback discount. Because they aren't picking anyone playing the most expensive position on the field, they don't expect to pay like the Raiders did for a QB.

Secondly, they rolled out their offer to Long with the implicit understanding that they could go chase someone else if he doesn't complete a deal within a certain period of time -- a deadline, if you will. When Russell signed his deal in September of 2007, the Raiders had no such option of picking somebody else if he didn't agree to their terms.

Finally, the Dolphins are trying to roll back the contract cost for the first overall pick because, well, it makes sense to try.

And by the way, the team is NOT expected to offer a signing bonus. Ronnie Brown didn't get one in 2005 when he was Miami's No. 2 overall pick and teams have lately been avoiding signing bonuses for expensive rookie deals as a means of countering collective bargaining agreement restrictions while still achieving the maximum value for the deals.

The player will get guaranteed salary and roster bonuses instead.

None of this is to suggest the deal Miami offers will, you know, actually get signed immediately. Tom Condon and Ben Dogra, who represent Jake Long and Vernon Gholston, along with Joel Segal (Glenn Dorsey) and Marvin Demoff (Chris Long) are veteran agents. They are not likely to simply roll over like a mutt at the Dolphins' command.

These agents want as much money for their clients -- and themselves -- as possible. And they are all accustomed to seeing salary scales go up not down from year to year.

So it shall be an interesting negotiation that Miami has already begun.

But if any think they're going to take a record bite out of Miami's salary cap based on the JaMarcus Russell contract of 2007, they are probably mistaken.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dolphins asking questions about Groves' heart

The Dolphins are seriously re-examining their initial opinion of Auburn LB/DE Quintin Groves following the news that he underwent heart surgery late last month.

Groves reportedly sent letters to all 32 NFL teams to inform them of the surgery and allay any fears that might result in him dropping like a boulder in water during the upcoming draft. Groves' letter explained that his surgery, which is considered a minor procedure, was conducted to correct his Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.

Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome means there's usually an extra conduction pathway in the heart that electrical signals use to reach the ventricles. The extra pathway often causes those electrical signals to arrive at the ventricles too soon. Symptoms or episodes of tachycardia (rapid heart rhythm) , dizziness, chest palpitations, fainting or cardiac arrest can be caused by this.

I know a lot about WPW because I was diagnosed with it in 1996. I am among the blessed ones that have no symptoms nor suffer from any episodes. But all Wolffies, as doctors call us, live with the knowledge that sudden death due to heart failure is possible in 0.6 percent of us.

Furthermore, people who do have episodes or symptoms require either medication or, in more serious cases, surgery. And that apparently includes Groves.

People with episodes of tachycardia can often be treated with medication. But sometimes such treatment doesn't work. That's when surgery is necessary. The point is surgery isn't necessary unless the condition is serious and does not respond to medication. Groves apparently was in this group of people.

The good news is if surgery is deemed successful, and it usually is given advanced medical science, the patient is considered cured. I hope Quintin Groves is cured.

I also hope the Dolphins do their research.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dolphins may offer several No. 1 deals

The news the Dolphins have entered preliminary contract talks with Jake Long's agent sent ripples throughout the NFL. And there may be more ripples coming.

By next week, the team could talk to the agents for Chris Long, Vernon Gholston, and possibly even Glenn Dorsey. That has not happened yet. But it would be the smart thing to do.

Rather than getting caught up with which player the Dolphins prefer, think of it in terms of which CONTRACT the Dolphins prefer.

It is smart for the Dolphins to offer all the players contracts that are advantageous to the team. By working several players at once, the team can play one against the other and the supply of options can somewhat lower the worth of the deal. At least that's what Miami hopes.

The reason an agent would enter into such a negotiation is because it allows him to judge the contract the Dolphins put before him to sign at No. 1 versus the possibility of his player dropping to, say, No. 3 or below. Gholston, in particular, might not go in the top 3 if he doesn't go to the Dolphins.

So him considering a cheap No. 1 contract that pays $25-$29 million in guarantees is better than the risk of going, say, No. 4 or No. 5 which would bring around $16-$18 million in guarantees.

This strategy also speaks to Miami's intention not to repeat the Raiders' mistake of a season ago. The Dolphins want their No. 1 pick signed on draft day. They have no desire to pick a player that might then entrench himself in a prolonged negotiation as JaMarcus Russell did last year.

Russell missed all of training camp with Oakland while his agent negotiated his mega-deal. The Dolphins can't afford that kind of setback.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dolphins may be telegraphing their intentions

The experts are reading the signs as if they were tea leaves and, pieced together like a vast puzzle, they are forming a picture one cannot mistake.

The Dolphins seem to be leaning toward picking Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long No. 1 in the draft, adding help at the 3-4 rush linebacker second, and maybe, only maybe, getting a quarterback sometime after that.

How do I know? Read the signs.

The Dolphins have had initial contact with Long's agent Tom Condon, colleague Jeff Darlington is reporting on The Herald's website. Condon, who also represents Matt Ryan, did not talk to the Dolphins about the Boston College quarterback. The talks centered on a contract for Jake Long exclusively.

What does this mean? It means Ryan is not the guy and how many times have I written that on here? Anyway, before we jump to conclusions about Jake Long, understand these preliminary negotiations do not preclude the Dolphins from also talking to Chris Long's agent.

But maybe the Dolphins don't give a hoot about pretenses.

They may just legitimately want Jake Long. That is what I believe. And I believe this, not just because of the Condon meeting. At the USC pro day last week, a handful of scouts were asked what the Dolphins were likely to do and all said Jake Long was the team's choice based on what they'd heard through the NFL grapevine.

The same week, coach Tony Sparano was asked to run down his lineup along the offensive and defensive fronts. He had no body at right tackle, or no body at left tackle if, as has been suggested, the Dolphins move Vernon Carey back to right tackle. I don't mean to say the Dolphins didn't have anybody as a slight. It is a fact. There was not a body on the roster the team had at the position.

So that pretty much paints a clear picture of how big Miami's need is there. All told these circumstances point to Jake Long first and everything to follow after that. And there is more.

What if Bill Parcells really was telling the truth when he said he has no intention to trade Jason Taylor? That would again suggest the team can hold off picking Chris Long No. 1 and instead take a player that might require a little more polishing later in the draft and plug him in a year or two from now when Taylor is gone. A player like Quentin Groves comes to mind. Lo and behold, the Dolphins are hosting Groves today as part of their Top 30 visits.

And there is more ... Remember I have told you how Sparano sees John Beck as a guy that will be part of the team's nucleus the next few years? That suggests the QB situation is not so dire in his eyes as to demand reaching for Ryan. Again, the Longs seem like Miami's focus, particularly Jake Long.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dolphins looking at LBs not named Long fairly early

It has been assumed that after signing Reggie Torbor and with the possibility of adding Chris Long with the first overall pick, the Dolphins might be looking somewhere other than linebacker during the early parts of the draft.

Wrong draftface.

The Dolphins, in fact, are seriously considering two highly coveted linebackers as possible first day additions as Auburn's Quentin Groves and Miami's Tavares Gooden will be among the players the team hosts this week.

Groves will be among the 30 out-of-town players that will visit the team Wednesday and Thursday. Gooden will be among the local players that will visit Friday. Team typically set up visits and private workouts with players they have focused on and because visits are limited in number, teams don't typically waste them by using them as a smokescreen.

So Miami's interest in these two guys is legit.

Miami's interest in Groves shows that Chris Long at No. 1 is not a certainty as both are considered linebacker/defensive ends in the 3-4 set. Groves is not as highly rated as Long. But he was productive in college and is very fast for his size.

Groves has been timed at 4.57 in the 40 since leaving Auburn. The Dolphins aren't the only team interested in him as he is also scheduled to visit Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, San Francisco, New Orleans, New York Giants, New York Jets and New England Patriots.

Gooden, whose worth seems to be rising since he ran a 4.48 time at Miami's pro day, may be a high second-round pick, although his there is at least one scout I've spoken to that has a first-round grade on the kid. Although not the edge-rushing type of linebacker, he is suited to both the strongside job or as an interior LB. He will visit the Saints, Titans, Giants and Dolphins and workout privately for the Colts and Ravens.

The Dolphins have also set up visits with Michigan State receiver Devin Thomas, who caught 79 passes for 1,260 yards last season with eight touchdowns. He is coming out as a junior.

The team also has set a visit with Texas El Paso free safety Quintin Demps. This guy ran a 4.39 40 in various timings and had 16 career interceptions.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What planting of the Parcells tree means in Miami

The Bill Parcells coaching tree is flourishing. It spans the NFL from New England to New Orleans, Cleveland, and with both the Jets and Giants. Now it is taking root in Miami and I thought one way to give you insight into what to expect with the Dolphins is to let the coaches from those other places tell you.

In brief, the Parcells way includes ideas about what kind of players you need, what kind of schemes you run, how and when one trains those players both during the season and the offseason, and how you handle both players and the press.

The Dolphins will run the 3-4 defense. It may take Parcells some time to get the right players for it. But that defense is simply the Parcells way, according to Bill Belichick.

"You have more linebackers on the field and less defensive linemen," Belichick said. "You need to have some flexibility there. Since there is some flexibility, that creates more learning and adjustments. Theoretically, you should be faster because you have a more athletic linebacker over a defensive lineman on the field, so you might not be quite as big, depending on how big your linebackers are.

"There are a lot of different ways to play a 3-4, just like there are a lot of different ways to play a 4-3.The thing about it, what Bill does, he's experienced with it, he knows what he's looking for, he'll get people to fit his system. I think we've all seen his system be productive in every place he's coached. I would think, eventually, in time, his system in conjunction with the coach and all that - he's not the coach - but I think that combination of things, certainly, there's no reason why it won't be successful again, based on, historically, the way it's gone."

Saints coach Sean Payton says the Parcells way includes a philosophy on how to prepare a team in the offseason so that, unlike the Dolphins of last year, it isn't overcome by a plague of injuries. So what is Miami's new offseason conditioning program built on?

“It’s not built on machine weights, it’s built on free weights. It’s built on cleans, it’s built on inclines, squats, it’s built on running," Payton said. "And I think it’s built on an environment where these guys have three or four lifting sessions per week and there’s a set number of goals we’re looking for by the end of this spring.

"He pushed minicamps back to the latter part of the offrseason and focuses more on the strength and conditioning aspect of it and didn’t intertwine football during that time. He wanted them to feel like it was just strength and conditioning and football would be later in May. It allows us with injured guys to get them healed up more before you get to the minicamp where you’re not maybe losing some of them.”

To that end, the Dolphins won't have a veteran minicamp until the latter part of May and another in June. The rookies will have a minicamp in early May. Also, the philosophy should help you understand why Parcells is not happy Jason Taylor is missing the current conditioning program. It's not just about being in shape, as Taylor obviously is. It's about getting stronger by lifting dead weights and gaining endurance from running.

The Parcells way is also about how you handle people. I believe the short way to explain it is no B.S.

“He’s someone that really taught you all the dynamics inside the building and how to be successful," Payton says of Parcells. "In other words, it wasn’t so much the football scheme on offense or defense, but what we’re looking for in players, how he wants the training room to function, what he thinks the offseason program should consist of, what’s important in his coaching staff makeup. Things that are a little bit broader than the football game itself.

"He was very detailed that way and held everyone accountable. He’s very good with personnel and is very good at what he’s looking for with players, size wise, speed wise. Those are all things you couldn’t get enough of. Being around him on a daily basis, without seeking out or asking, you heard these things repeated over and over again about personnel, about philosophies on offense and defense, about lifting, the offseason program under him, I thought, just watching it as an assistant, our players really benefited from that."

Parcells coming to Miami means he is now a rival of old friends and confidants like Romeo Crennel and Belichick and even Eric Mangini and Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum. They all know what Parcells being in Miami means.

"You know that with Bill there, they are going to keep getting better as long as he’s a part of them for years," Mangini said. "He was great as far as Mike and I calling him, getting advice. I’ve always respected him as a talent evaluator. There’s a lot of familiarity."

Not anymore, Eric.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Jags indeed interested in Taylor, but is he long for the NFL?


Last week I told you in this forum that Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio was interested in the idea of trading for Jason Taylor, according to two league sources. I told you I would try to flush the issue out further at the NFL annual meetings.

Mission accomplished.

Although Del Rio has deflected several attempts to pin him down on the matter publicly, I've confirmed that the coach not only likes the idea of trading for Taylor, but also for Carolina's Julius Peppers -- whichever might be the best deal in his mind.

Realizing there are folks thinking about Peppers, Carolina coach John Fox on Wednesday morning basically told them to look elsewhere: "I love Julius Peppers," Fox said. "We are not looking to trade Julius Peppers. We want him with us for some years to come. He did not have his best season a year ago. I won't argue that. He won't argue that. But we're ready to move on."

If Del Rio can't find a way to add one of those two premier pass-rushers, he'll continue his search through other means because he figures his team is a fine pass-rusher from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Del Rio has declined to speak on the record about either Taylor or Peppers. But he's made no secret of the Jags' need to find a defensive end.

"We're going to do the best we can with the people we have but we’re not done collecting the people we’re going to have in 2008," Del Rio said Tuesday. "There are always a combination of ways that you can disrupt the quarterback. And the number of sacks is not the most important thing, disruption of the quarterback is the most important thing whether we’re bringing blitzes, whether we’re using waves of people, whether we end up with a player or two who can legitimately get after the quarterback.

"We're going to find a way and we’re very open minded in terms of how we’re going to go about it and going to find a way to make sure we disrupt the quarterback and the timing of what they want to do offensively."

The Jaguars have no intention of giving up a first round pick for that pass rusher if he comes in trade. They also don't want to give up their second round pick. They seem open to the idea of giving up a third rounder.

Obviously Carolina seems intent on keeping Peppers, if one believes Fox. The Dolphins also have expressed their desire to keep Taylor, as both Bill Parcells and coach Tony Sparano have made that point.

But the situation is simply different for Miami so it might be more inclined to settle for a second round pick for Taylor.

Unlike Peppers, who is 28, Taylor will be 34 next season. It is simply logical that a team in rebuilding mode, a team that wants to acquire draft picks, would consider moving a 34-year-old player. Not to do that is stubborn.

Also, based on what I've been told about Taylor's future goals -- which today are to play in 2008 then really, really seriously consider retirement thereafter to enter show business -- it would seem to be a grave mistake to hang on to him.

Let's hope the Dolphins don't outsmart themselves because this is the first significant test of the personnel prowess for the new Bill Parcells regime - ahead of the upcoming draft even. How the regime handles this matter will determine the initial grade it receives as it tries to rebuild.

It should be interesting.

Nuggets from breakfast with Sparano [UPDATED]

Tony Sparano talked with the media for 64 minutes today. Interestingly, the Dolphins rookie coach had a small mob of reporters around him even as established coaches like Mike Tomlin and Jack Del Rio had only a couple of guys around them.

Some nuggets:

Ronnie Brown, recovering from a torn ACL, is expected back by training camp.

On if Ronnie will be ready for training camp:

"We'll see how the thing goes right now but I think in our minds Ronnie should be ready for training camp," Sparano said.

Sparano admitted the team has no starting RT right now. He said the team has Vernon Carey penciled in at LT and Drew Mormino at LG. Yikes!

His front seven on defense were LE Matt Roth, NT Jason Ferguson, RE Randy Starks, OLBS Jason Taylor and Joey Porter and ILBS Channing Crowder and Reggie Torbor. When asked about Vonnie Holliday, Sparano corrected himself and put the vet in the starting lineup.

Starks is having a bad day, having been benched in favor of Holliday in the span of one hour.

Sparano said he still isn't certain whether the team will run a 3-4 or 4-3, although its obvious they want to run a 3-4.

He said no one other than Jason Taylor has missed the conditioning program that began last week.

He said Lorenzo Booker "jumps off the film," when he studies the player. He said Ted Ginn and Derek Hagan are having a great offseason and added that Ginn "has great ability," and is improving his route-running.

And he insisted the Dolphins want to keep Jason Taylor rather than trade him because he's a good player.

On specific players:

Nate Jones -- “Honestly, one of the things that we did when we came here and watched all this film is we saw a lot of young players back there that we were really excited about. When we watched them, that they had a lot of upside and they got us curious. So we thought when we were watching these guys, that maybe there were a few more pieces back there than we thought. So we’re interested and excited to get them out on the field. Now Nate is a guy that has played for us and again, he’s one of those that people think you signed a special teams player but for us, he’s a guy who’s going to compete to be a corner. And one thing I know about Nate Jones is that he competes and he competes hard every single day.”

S Keith Davis and S Chris Crocker -- “Keith Davis honestly is one of the toughest players that we’ve had the opportunity to coach. This is tough and he brings toughness to your team. And Crocker is a guy I’ve played against several times in our league and we think he’s outstanding safety, cover guy. He always gets some hands on some balls and it’s no secret there’s guys hurt in our secondary right now. And that can’t be an area where we have guys hurt and have success in our league.”

On LB Charlie Anderson -- “Charlie Anderson we’ve had the opportunity in Dallas to play against an awful lot. We played him in the preseason, we played him once or twice in the regular season. And we get out on the field and he just jumps out at you because he’s this big, good looking guy that can run and he presents some problems that way. He’s a young player, like a few of these guys we’ve signed that’s looking for an opportunity. But he gives you that big linebacker we need in our league to be durable that maybe can help in some pass rush but can still play in coverage and do some things that way.”

Is he outside or inside?
Charlie has the ability to play in two spots for us and we’re not sure where we’re going to be with him, but we’re going to start him outside.”

On WR Ernest Wilford -- “Our history has been that we have those kind of receivers – Keyshawn, Terrell – those big physical receivers. But Ernest, honestly, he’s a guy that jumped out at us as a guy that could really make a difference for us and complement some of the players we have right now. So he’s coming in and he knows he has a great opportunity to compete as well.”

Is Travis Daniels a CB or S -- “Right now we’re going to look at him as a corner, with the safeties we brought in. We know he has the ability to play two positions back there and on game day that’s important. On game day you’re looking for guys that can do more and Travis is a young player we feel can do a few things back there. He’s one of those young guys we’re excited about watching, but we’re going to start him right now at corner.”

Where to play Jason Allen -- “He’s played both and that’s a luxury for us. Right now as the process goes on we’ll look at him at a safety spot and then we’ll see where we go from there. But the more things you can do back there, the better off we’re going to be.”on Jason Allen --