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News » Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-03-11

Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-03-11

Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-03-11
Tony Sparano was a lineman in college and a longtime offensive line coach before landing his first NFL head-coaching job with the Dolphins last year.

So it's no surprise that the Dolphins are focusing on bolstering the offensive line for the second year in a row. Despite improving their ground game last year, they accomplished that with trickery and the implementation of the Wildcat.

The Wildcat can no longer sneak up on defensive coordinators so Sparano and vice president of football operations Bill Parcells are returning to their roots: smash-mouth football.

Without Ronnie Brown taking the direct shotgun snap, the running backs had problems running inside the tackles, especially after losing their starting guards - rookie Donald Thomas (foot) and Justin Smiley (leg and ankle) by the end of the season.

That's why they re-signed right tackle Vernon Carey to a long-term deal worth $42 million with $23 million coming the first three years. Over the last week they signed Cowboys free agent center/guard Joe Berger, who they had for parts of two injury-plagued seasons (2005-06), and then Raiders free agent center/guard Jake Grove to a five-year deal worth $30 million with $14 million guaranteed.

Throw in left tackle Jake Long's $57.5 million deal last year with $30 large guaranteed, and Smiley's $9 million bonus, and one can see where most of Miami's salary cap funds are directed. Get the picture?

By the way, they're also very large linemen, they type Parcells likes. Add guard Donald Thomas to the mix and the projected starting line averages about 6-5, 315 pounds. Also, by signing Grove and Berger, the message is clear: second-year center Samson Satele will soon be seeking employment elsewhere.

"My background is that way, and Bill's background and history is one where you do start within the lines and you try to get the big people first," Sparano said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "The tackle was available, and the left tackle in this league is a premium. We were able to get Jake who, of course, from our end had everything that we were looking for in the makeup.

"You can never get enough big people. You can never get enough secondary guys. That's the way I've been raised in this deal. As we've gone through the season, you could see those things pop up. We lost Justin Smiley during the course of the season. We lost Donald Thomas during the course of the season. When you're trying to make a run at this thing and you lose valuable pieces like that it proves your point. You can never have enough of them. We were fortunate we had some guys that were able to fill in because that's been our philosophy."

Now that the Dolphins have addressed the offensive line with three of their four free-agent signings, and have secured their starting safeties by re-signing Yeremiah Bell and adding Raiders/Giants safety Gibril Wilson, their next positional target has to be the cornerback spot where they lost veteran Andre' Goodman to the Broncos. Stay tuned.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 11, 2009

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Jason Ferguson Name: Jason Ferguson
Position: DT
Age: 33
Experience: 12 years
College: Georgia
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