You'll recall that last year, right around this time of the year, Cam Cameron decided to let many of his veteran players basically relax during much of the preseason. Some vets saw a few series, while others didn't even see the field in some games.
This year, that will not be the case. While we don't know how much any particular player will play, we should all expect the entire team to see action in these exhibition games. Says Sparano:
"We need to be in a game, be in a game environment. We need to get as many guys into uniform as we can get in uniform, being in that locker room together, coming out of that tunnel together. (We need to) be on the sideline together, go through whatever we're going to go through in that game together."
I couldn't have said it better myself. I agree 100% with Sparano's line of logic here. Sparano also talked a little about how coming off of a 1-15 season, this team needs a culture change. I think that we've already seen some of that change in culture in terms of the offseason training program as well as the way training camp has been handled so far by this coaching staff. Playing all the players who are able to physically play is the next logical step in this culture change.
DEFENSIVE LINE ROTATION
Speaking of Saturday's preseason opener against the Buccaneers at Dolphin Stadium, I wanted to quickly touch on something other than the QB competition that deserves some attention.
The one position that I am confident has been upgraded greatly is the defensive line. The addition of Jason Ferguson alone was huge. But to also bring in a versatile player like Randy Starks and then draft two ends like Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford really will drastically improve this team's defensive front, especially against the run.
But the addition of all these new players up front means that there is a lot of competition going on and that there will likely be some kind of defensive line rotation. Vonnie Holliday has reportedly looked great in camp so far, so his starting spot is probably safe. But the same can't be said for Matt Roth. This weel, Roth is working out some as an outside linebacker in Miami's 3-4, which is a good move because it shows that this coaching staff is committed to finding every possible way to maximize each player's potential. However, this week when Roth lines up as a DE, he's been working primarily with the 2nd team while Langford, the rookie out of Hampton, has been getting some work as a 1st team end.
This has to make you wonder if there's a shot that Langford, a rookie from a small school, might actually win a starting job right out of camp. He's clearly a little further ahead of fellow rookie Phillip Merling (no knock on Merling - Langford has played his college career in a 3-4 while Merling is still learning the fundamentals of it) and he seems to be outplaying the veteran, Matt Roth, on a daily basis. So that will be one thing to keep an eye on come Saturday.
Also, it's worth mentioning that the battle to be Ferguson's primary backup as nose tackle is up in the air. Paul Soliai has reportedly looked much improved over last year. Meanwhile, the versatile Randy Starks can potentially play both DE or NT in a 3-4. So which will see action first on Saturday, spelling Ferguson at nose?
Those are just a few of the storylines to pay attention to as Saturday's exhibition opener approaches.
As always, your thoughts below...