Miami Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby followed in the preseason footsteps of fellow Miami defender Vontae Davis this week. Earlier this year, Davis declared himself and Sean Smith as the best cornerback tandem in the game. Following Sunday's victory over the Washington Redskins, a game in which he intercepted a pass, sacked Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman, and had a game high 10 tackles, Dansby declared himself the best linebacker in the league.
Talking to the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero, Dansby stated:"I feel like I'm the best, and now I just have to prove it," Dansby said. "I've been saying it for the last couple of years, and I'm just now getting my opportunity to be on the stage to show it.
"That's why I chose the Miami Dolphins. That's why I came down here. That's why I chose the AFC East, because everyone said it was the best. I want to play against the best guys. I want to see how I measure."
Salguero pushed Dansby, asking if Dansby meant he was better than Ravens superstar Ray Lewis. Dansby replied, "I'm better than everybody. Everybody. Period. Point blank. I just haven't had the recognition, man. I'm more versatile than everybody. Period. Pont blank. I'm more versatile than everybody. Hands down. I can do it all."
"I can take the tight end," he continued. "I can check the running backs. You don't have to put me in one hole, I ain't no hole guy. You can play man-to-man all over the field, man. I can do it all. I can do it all. I can hit guys. I can drop in coverage. I can blitz the quarterback. I got, what, 28 sacks, almost 30 sacks."
Salguero wasn't done trying to find better players, though. He then brought up the Chicago Bears' Brian Urlacher. Dansby still wasn't backing down from his claim, however.
"Aging," Dansby said. "He's aging fast, man. He's a great linebacker, but he's aging fast. I respect all the linebackers. But I'm better. That's just how I feel."
During the first five games of the season, Dansby had just 21 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. However, something changed in the last few weeks.
"I take it personal," Dansby said. "They brought me in here to lead the team, and I'm trying to right this ship. I know guys are playing off my emotions, and they're looking to me to make plays. That's what I'm trying to do right now - make my plays. If I make them and can get everybody going and riled up, we can be great."
During the last four week, Dansby has been making plays. He has 40 tackles, one sack, one interception, a forced fumble, and two passes defensed in that time span. "I've played every position there is at linebacker," he said. "I played Sam [strong-side] my first two or three years. I've played the Mo [weak-side inside linebacker]. I've played the Will [weakside outside] and now I'm playing the Mike [middle linebacker].
"I can do it all. Nobody else can say they've done that and played at a high level. Nobody else. Everybody plays weak-side or play under at the Mike. I've done it all. I can press the guard. I watch film. I know how good I am."
But, not everything Dansby has done has been great. He admitted to showing up to training camp overweight this year. "I was eating salads and certain dressings," he told reporters Sunday. "I thought I was eating good."
Whatever he was doing, it didn't work. Dansby reported to training camp at 270 pounds. His listed playing weight is 250 pounds. "I came to camp weighing 270 and I'm 246 right now," Dansby said. "I was out of shape. I was eating the wrong foods. I thought I was eating good."
Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano weighed in today on Dansby's weight, joking, "I don't know what the hell kind of dressing he was using."
Sparano admitted Dansby wasn't the only player to come to training camp not quite ready for the season. "You knew some of the guys were heavier than they had been. Some of them were lighter than they had been," Sparano said. "Nobody knows what they were doing.
"I couldn't tell you if it was from eating salads. I just don't know. You can't put your finger on what they were doing, as far as what they considered getting ready to play football, and what we would consider here."
The NFL locked out the players for 136 days during the offseason, which prevented teams from holding the normal condition program activities and monitoring players preparation for the season. As the lockout ended, the players negotiated a change to the NFL's preseason activities, shortening the condition period from 14-weeks to 9-weeks. Sparano spoke about that change, as well. "I realize that a lot of players think the off-season program is too long, and in some cases maybe it was too long," he said. "But it's a necessary evil to get yourself ready to play the season. That is something I'm sure, this coming off-season, players around the league will probably appreciate it a little bit more."
Interestingly, this week is the 15th week since training camp opened for the Dolphins. Dansby is finally down to game weight, in exactly the same amount of time the old condition period allowed. "I'm feeling great now," Dansby said. "I feel awesome. I'm already recovered from this game. I'm getting into my groove."
Sparano doesn't mind the big talk from his linebacker. "I like the confidence, sure do," he said. "Karlos was brought here to make plays like he did yesterday."