Last night, we discussed the Dolphins' situation at free safety, as seen from Head Coach Tony Sparano. It wasn't just the safety position, however, that was on Sparano's mind. He also talked about the other parts of the secondary - mainly, the two starting cornerbacks, Sean Smith and Vontae Davis.
Sparano, who has always been a numbers guy, explained, "Those two guys, I mean, I think that right now, I think they're getting better and better. You know, it's interesting, I started studying their play count right now for camp, and they both have over 500 snaps right now. I think 510 plays a piece going into today's practice. So, they've taken a lot of plays, they are in good shape; and mentally, their mental errors are way down from where they've been.
"You know, they're making, like one mistake every 70 plays right now, which is really good at that position for all the traffic that they get. I think that, you know, they are starting to feel really comfortable in the scheme, and I'm starting to feel it more and more in practice. We're still not getting our hand on a lot of footballs, but I think that their potential is pretty good as a tandem right now. Obviously, we flipped those two guys on their sides, and I think that's worked out well for both of them."
Apparently all that practice, and the field swap, is working. Smith and Davis have not allowed a single reception so far this preseason. That's right. Not a single catch has been made on either of the two corners.
While that's an exceptional stat, it's not what concerns Dolphins fans going in to the season. It's the other part of coach Sparano's statement - "We're still not getting our hands on a lot of footballs..." The knock on the corners, especially Smith, was his ability to get his hands on the ball, but not come away with the turnover. That has to change if the duo really do plan on surpassing Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain as the best cornerback tandem in team history.
Coach Sparano thinks that the field swap will help them get to that level.
"I think that in one of the things in flipping them is, you know, there is a little bit of a size advantage - the one where Sean is, and the size that he plays. We've seen a little bit bigger people coming on that side. And, Vontae's foot speed and that type of thing. We felt like that would be a little better matchup."
Sparano's comments about the two "islands" down in South Beach didn't end there. He was asked about the benefit of the two corners having been drafted together in 2009, starting together that year, and developing together throughout their careers.
"I think there's no question there are pluses. I think that the both of them have gone through the same things together. You know they communicate really well. They are really good friends. They are both hard workers; you know, pretty conscientious guys that way. I think that's a good problem. I think you get maybe a young guy and a veteran guy type of thing, in the mix, and maybe not the same kind of communication. So, I think it's good."
It's through that communication - and getting their hands on more footballs - that the two Dolphins corners will become the all time greats they both expect to be.