The Miami Dolphins play their first preseason game of the 2011 season Friday night in Atlanta. But, to Head Coach Tony Sparano, the game really is nothing more than another day of practice.
As per the Miami Herald's Jeff Darlington, the Dolphins aren't going to have a "comprehensive game plan specific to Atlanta, instead focusing on its goals at this point in camp."
"We are not going to use this as a game week," Sparano said. "We really aren’t going to prepare at all for Atlanta, just go down there and kind of decide what we want to run and get a look at some things.
"It is going to be hard to use these early preseason games as anything other than practice opportunities to see players and to get them some work."
While it might be frustrating to some of us as fans to watch the Dolphins "practice" against the Falcons, Sparano has the right idea. In a normal year, a team would have had all of their Organized Team Activities (OTAs), mini-camps, and a dozen training camp practices before their first preseason game. In this strange, lockout induced preseason, the Dolphins have had eight practices - and that does not take into account all the players who had to wait for the new league year to start before they could practice, or the rookies who had to work out their contract details.
So, while some of us will be clamoring for the signs that the Dolphins are a threat this year, we may have to wait a couple more weeks. But, using the first, and maybe the second, preseason game as a glorified practice, will allow the Dolphins to continue to install their offense during the practices leading up to the game, and will let the coaching staff run plays based on things they want to see, rather than focusing on a "must win" type of mentality during the game.