Sparano Said What? And Practice Report


The Miami Dolphins have concluded their practic today and HC Tony Sparano talked to the media prior to the start about Saturdays game, LB injuries, and more.  Simply follow the “Continue Reading” for the full report from practice and following that a transcript of what Sparano said. 

But first…

The Dolphins wasted no time finding a LB to fill the hole vacated by Kelvin Smith’s injury and Charlie Anderson’s hamstring injury, today the team signed Arena Football Leaguer Maurice Fountain.

At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, Fountain was named to the AFL All-Rookie team last season with the Utah Blaze. He had 13.5 tackles, including four sacks. In 2007, he played for the Manchester Wolves of the AF2, and had 29.5 tackles, including 13 sacks.  He attended college at Clemson.

Sparano’s quote of the day“We’re kind of out of the hurtin’ people’s feeling business right now,” Tony Sparano said this morning. “We’re getting into the real deal here.”

O.k. so click continue reading.  The Ben Volin Practice report is first followed by the entire team released Press release of Tony Sparano’t presser.


Chad Penningtons first day


Lets get started, shall we?

  • Big news, guys. Chad Pennington is here at practice.
  • OK, seriously. Vonnie Holliday (hamstring) isn’t practicing today. He did some high-leg stuff during warm-ups and is riding on the bike, but isn’t in pads.
  • Joey Porter isn’t practicing either. He strained his back before Saturday’s game, and is day-to-day.
  • Jay Feely (groin), Michael Lehan (ankle) and Charlie Anderson (hamstring) also aren’t practicing, and are riding the bike.
  • With injuries to Porter, Anderson and Kelvin Smith (“serious” knee injury, Sparano said) not practicing, the Dolphins have added OLB Maurice Fountain from the Utah Blaze in the Arena Football League. You may remember him from his four years as a defensive end at Clemson (2001-04). Fountain apparently was named to the AFL’s 2008 All-Rookie Team, and also spent some time with the Manchester Wolves of AFL2.
  • Matt Roth continues to do individual drills with the OLBs.
  • McCown and Beck are both here. Guess Sparano was serious when he said he would work out all four quarterbacks.

That’s it for now. Back with more updates soon.


Hey guys, sorry for the delay. Wanted to watch the QB drills before I did an update.

  • During individual drills, Sparano wanders over toward the OLBs. Matt Roth gives a so-so effort against Rob Ninkovich during one-on-one drills, and the linebackers coach shouts out, “Do it again! Look who just came over!”
  • Donald Thomas is once again the First Team RG.
  • Ernest Wilford drops a pass from John Beck during individual drills. No one is covering.
  • Chad Henne is a perfectionist. He throws a slant to Derek Hagan that is maybe a quarter-inch behind his receiver. Hagan easily catches the ball, but Henne slaps his hands together in disgust.
  • The quarterbacks are doing a lot of short stuff. Pennington gets rid of the ball fairly quick.
  • The running backs do receiving drills against the linebackers, the receivers work on getting separation from the CBs, and the OL goes up against the DL.
  • Pennington throws an interception to Chris Crocker on a pass intended for Justin Peelle. Nice job by Crocker stealing the ball away.
  • John Beck throws a nice deep flag route to Ronnie Brown, who continues to look great catching the ball.
  • Real nice throw by Chad Henne, threading one to Sean Ryan over the middle, with Edmond Miles covering.
  • Real nice throw from McCown to Anthony Fasano deep down the left side.

They break out into 9 minutes of 11-on-11 drills. Pennington gets the snaps for about the first 6 minutes.

  • First pass is a fade to Ginn on the right side. Ginn doesn’t look soon enough, and the ball glances off his fingers.
  • Next pass is a quick slant to Wilford, who runs right to the spot that was left vacant by a blitzing Channing Crowder.
  • Then a quick out to Fasano, an incomplete pass to Hagan, another quick out to Fasano, and incomplete fade to Jayson Foster and a high throw to Hagan, who still comes down with the catch.

Henne goes next.

  • A quick slant to Wilford is followed by a real nice square-in to Ginn, about 20 yards.
  • Next pass is incomplete to Greg Camarillo down the right sideline. “Camarillo, keep your hands in!” a coach shouts.
  • Next play is a rollout, and Camarillo makes a nice catch on the sidelines.
  • Final pass is an out pattern to Ginn, who catches it with Andre Goodman draped all over him.

That’s it for now. Back in a few.


Some more quick hits:

  • I come back and they’re doing some kickoff drills, nothing too fancy.
  • Roth and our new guy Fountain are getting private instruction from Pasqualoni.

11-on-11 Red Zone drills.

  • Pennington is up first.
  • After a quick out to Bess and a sweep left by Ricky, Pennington throws a Pick Six to Andre Goodman. Anthony Armstrong was the intended receiver. Easy interception for Goodman.
  • Pennington comes right back and throws a real nice fade pass to David Martin in the right corner, over Yeremiah Bell.
  • Will Allen and Channing Crowder get tangled up on a fade pass in the end zone, and come down hard. Allen sits out for a few plays, but eventually comes back.
  • Pennington certainly has a long way to go, but several members of the media are commenting about how practice is running a lot smoother with Pennington under center.
  • Henne is up next. He and Pennington have taken the Lion’s Share of snaps today. Beck and McCown have barely gotten anything in team drills.
  • Henne throws an out to Peelle, a playaction dump-off to Mauia and an end-around to Camarillo.
  • Finally, McCown gets in there. Jalen Parmele drops an out pattern, but then runs the same route on the next play and comes up with the catch.
  • McCown scrambles out of the pocket on his third pass and throws it away. And that’s it. He gets three snaps.
  • Now it’s Beck’s turn.
  • Nice lob to Bess in the right corner for a touchdown over Chris Roberson.
  • Then Parmele runs left.
  • And that’s it for Beck. Two snaps.

Now they do 11-on-11 drills, with no defense.

  • Pennington up first, once again. But they’re only working on the old Standford Marching Band lateral play that teams use at the end of a half. This is my favorite play in football.
  • Henne gets to run the drill, too. Anthony Armstrong manages to drop a lateral from Patrick Cobbs. These drops are contagious.

Hopefully this will tide you over for now. Practice ends soon, and I gotta talk to some players.

I’ll have one more update for you, but it won’t be for another hour.


A few more to finish the day:

  • 11-on-11 drills. Pennington gets most of the snaps.
  • He throws a real nice sideline pass to Armstrong, and Hagan does a great job dragging his feet to complete a sideline pattern.
  • Henne throws an interception to Will Billingsley. Nice diving catch from the CB.
  • Sparano isn’t happy with the pace of practice. “This isn’t touch football, let’s tackle somebody!” Next play, Ed Miles gives a nice thump to Parmele.

Here are the final passing stats from practice:

  • Pennington: 13 of 21, one (maybe two) touchdowns
  • Henne: 9 of 15, 1 INT
  • Beck: 1 of 1. Yes, 1 of 1
  • McCown: 1 of 3


(On the injuries to LB Kelvin Smith and LB Charlie Anderson) – “Here’s where we are injury wise at the end of the game. Kelvin Smith, during the game, he suffered what looks like a pretty serious knee injury. We’re waiting on a little bit more information there, but that injury looks to be pretty serious. And then, Charlie Anderson in the game, he had a little bit of a hamstring deal in the game, so he’s kind of day-to-day right now. But those are the injuries that came out of the game.”

(On LB Charlie Anderson practicing today) — “I’m not sure. It’s really day-to-day and we’ll be really smart with it, but I don’t see him practicing today.”

(On his plans for LB Kelvin Smith after his injury) — “Not sure right now. At this time, we’re still waiting for a little bit more information, but it’s not great.”

(On which leg LB Kelvin Smith and LB Charlie Anderson injured) — “Not positive. I think Charlie’s is the left, I’m not sure.”

(On his impressions of the first preseason game vs. Tampa Bay after watching the film) — “My impressions after watching the game in general, are that I thought early in the game they did some nice things. They competed really hard. Whatever it’s worth in a preseason game, the score was 7-6 with ten minutes into the fourth quarter of it. I thought he first units competed really well against one another in that game, and really did see some really good things at times, particularly out of some younger guys in there. I was really pleased to see that. What we didn’t do, is we didn’t finish. So that’s something that we talk about. I don’t really care what the unit is that is out on the field at the time, it’s not an excuse. We didn’t finish the game and that’s the way we practice. Those are the things we talk about. We weren’t really disciplined throughout the course of the game. We had nine penalties there for 60 yards. Those are things that we preach about. We had a couple of minus plays out there, which are also things that we talk about. We really didn’t get the ball away from them, meaning they didn’t turn it over. Now, with that being said, neither did we, which is a good thing.”

(On how he splits up the rotation with four QBs in camp) — “Right now, we’ve seen an awful lot of a couple of guys here, of three players, so we can see a little bit less maybe of the three players there as we get on in this. We know we obviously have to get Chad (Pennington) work as well here, so we’ll work it around that way. It might be a little bit dominant in here early. We’ll see how it goes where a couple of guys get a couple more reps then a few other guys.”

(On how long he thinks it takes for a QB to learn an offense) — “Well, that’s interesting. I think to learn an offense, I think a guy can learn the offense and have a pretty good grasp of the offense in a week to two weeks time. I really do, depending on who that guy is. Now Chad (Pennington) coming to us, and this was well thought out, is when we came here, really my first time in Dallas, when I learned our offense with Bill Parcells, that was the same offense that Dan Henning was involved in. So, when we came here, my notebook and Dan’s notebook were put together. And that’s kind of the way we developed our offense here and kind of the way we’re going to attack this thing. To be honest with you, Chad (Pennington) is pretty familiar with some of the terminology. This is going to be a little bit easier than it would be anybody else.”

(On who’s terminology he uses, his or offensive coordinator Dan Henning) — “We’re using my terminology. One of the greatest things is formations and how you get guys lined up. That’s the biggest part that comes out of the quarterbacks mouth in the huddle usually is the formation. And those things are pretty consistent. So Chad (Pennington), I think, would have pretty good recall that way. In fact, I know he does.”

(On what he liked from QB Chad Henne’s play in the preseason game against Tampa Bay) — “I’ll tell you two things I thought that were really telling to me. First of all, he did step up in the pocket and he did make a couple of pretty good throws in there. One of those throws was, I’m going to say to (Anthony) Armstrong in the game and then the other one was to (David) Kircus. Those are two pretty good throws, I mean really big-league throws. The ball out of bounds, there was another deal during the course of this game, we drill it all the time out here, and we talk about it a lot. But from a field goal standpoint, our second score, we were probably on about the 36-yard line at the time, somewhere in that range, maybe a little bit longer. But we were just outside of what we thought might have been (Dan) Carpenter’s field goal range. And we went back to pass, and Chad (Henne) was smart enough there not to take a sack, put the ball down and get positive yards out of this, which was something we talked about. I think he might have gained four yards in that situation and gave us the opportunity to make a field goal. That’s a heads up play for a young guy to make. Some young guys would take the sack there in that situation and you have no chance for a field goal. The other thing I thought is that he got hit twice in that game, it didn’t bother him at all.”

(On his evaluation of the first team offensive line against Tampa Bay) – “I thought that the first team offensive line, the course of that game, aside of the first two plays of the game, which we were not quite on the same page with, played pretty well. I was pleased with what they did in there. I was really pleased as a group with what they did, but obviously when you look at your young players, Donald Thomas being out there for the first time, I was pleased with what Donald did during the course of the game. There are a lot of things he has to get better at and we talked about it and Jake (Long), the same kind of deal. I thought Jake played pretty well in that ball game and got challenged a little bit in that game. Some speed rush up the field and he handled it pretty well. He was pretty good in the run game. Again, some things he has to get better at as well.”

(On his evaluation of Matt Roth at outside linebacker against Tampa Bay) — “I see tremendous strength and he really set the edge a few times. He did a nice job that way. He put good pressure on the quarterback in some rush situations. When I say, ‘set the edge,’ I mean in the run game. He really set the edge, played on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage. But in the pass game, his pass rush was really solid. He’s down the middle usually of his defender. Now that being said, we need to work on some things that way. Down the middle is good, but down the middle of a 300 pound tackle every single down, we need to come up with a little something different there.”

(On why Ernest Wilford seems to be struggling catching the ball) — “I think sometimes when you’re a skill player like that, and you don’t always get a lot of at bats, and it doesn’t come to you a bunch, you have one or two and then it becomes a confidence thing a little bit one way or the other. But he’s a pretty confident kid. In fact, he and I sat down and visited a little today and I told him that I am confident in him and that we just got to get him into a point where we just practice one practice at a time here and we finish that practice and we know we had a good day. And we go to the next practice and worry about it. Maybe spend a little bit more time doing some things with him on the jugs. We’ve got four arms in camp now so we can use some of these quarterbacks after practice and do some things that way too.”

(On not playing Joey Porter against Tampa Bay and injury updates on Vonnie Holliday and Jay Feely) — “Vonnie is still day-to-day right now. He’s doing a lot better. We were smart in doing what we did with him. As far as Joey goes, Joey had a little bit of a sore back. He kind of tweaked it in practice last week. It was fine then it kind of flared up on him so it was a little bit sore and we just wanted to be cautious with it. That was all it was in that situation. It was good for us to be able to see a few of the younger guys, too, in that deal. Joey is going to be day-to-day right now and I would expect Joey, as we get on in this week to be okay. As far as Feely goes, he’s still day-to-day right now as well and we’ll see where he is.”

(On if he’s comfortable with John Beck doing the check down or would you like to see him step up more downfield) — “I think it depends on what’s happening out there, coverage-wise. I know when Chad (Henne) got out there, there was a little bit more man coverage at that time. Tampa usually plays a lot of two-deep and tries to keep the ball underneath you, underneath them I should say. John had a few of those kind of opportunities where they were playing shell and he had to check the ball down a little bit. He made the right decision. We have talked a little bit to John just about being able to get the ball down the field. You don’t want to force feed that to a quarterback and then he goes out and throws three interceptions because he’s trying to push the ball. One of the big things is that it’s okay to check the ball down in our offense. We threw a check down to Reagan Mauia. To be honest with you, we weren’t in the right place when we threw the check down, but we threw the check down to Reagan and he gains nine or ten yards. That’s what you want to see.”

(On his evaluation of the special teams overall and the impact that Special Teams Coordinator John Bonamego has had) — “First of all, Bono‘s impact I think is outstanding. The players like playing for Bono in special teams and that’s a big part of it. He keeps it interesting there. He tells them when they do it right, he tells them when they do it wrong and he’s pretty good correcting it. He uses a lot of visuals for them in meetings so that they can understand what it is that we should be doing and how we should be doing it out there on the field. I think they’re excited about what he brings to the table in special teams. As far as the game goes, I thought early in the game we competed pretty well. What I didn’t like is there were 70 yards worth of punts returned in the kicking game. And that’s 70 yards. You take 70 yards there, you take 60 yards worth of penalties you’re at 130 yards. You add four sacks for 23 yards, now you’re at 153 yards. I think we got back three sacks for maybe 13 yards. So at the end of the day there was 120 yards of hidden yardage left on the field. My team knows this, they know about how you win and lose. And of 123 yards when you look at it, in our game 100 yards is seven points. It’s probably about nine points in the game.”

(On what you are looking for out of Chad Pennington today in his first practice) — “Obviously I just want to watch him manage the huddle a little bit and see how he does that way. See exactly what his recall is. We’re going to get him out there and let him go a few reps. He’ll grab a bunch of reps today. And we’re going to watch him and see what his recall is. I want to watch him throw the ball a little bit, but more importantly just how he interacts with the players and the team. He’s already done that, its kind of been a pretty nice couple days, transition that way. You could feel his presence around a little bit.”

(On what the wide receivers need to improve on) — “Catching the ball. I want them to catch the ball and I want to see run after the catch. But your question is a good question. The other thing is man-to-man. I don’t think we’re doing a great job at the second level avoiding people. They’re getting their hands on us a little bit, it’s happened in practice. They disrupt the route there a little bit. We need to have a better plan at the second level from a receiver’s standpoint and we have to win in man-to-man situations. We have to win.”

(On is he going to have a set plan with four quarterbacks or play them by feel) – “I’m going to do it by feel right now, kind of what we need to get as we get on in this thing. Honestly, right now it’s going to be feel for a lot of the guys on the team. We’re kind of out of the hurting people’s feelings business right now. We’re getting into the real deal here. We have three preseason games left and really after today we’ll have nine true practice days left before we get into game week. We’ve got to get people ready to play that we think are going to be headed to the game and get enough guys work that are on the bubble as we look at it and see guys that still have a legitimate chance to make this team. There are a lot of guys that have that chance to make this team. Really, there’s very few things that are set in stone but we got to get guys ready to play.