CATCHING UP

Both owner Wayne Huizenga and Coach Dave Wannstedt addressed the media this week at the owners meetings, and both had some interesting things to say.

Huizenga was first, and he said he expected the Dolphins to make the playoffs next season. He also said he blamed kicker Olindo Mare, who missed two field goal attempts in the overtime loss to New England, more than he blamed Wannstedt for the team's failure to make the playoffs.

And Huizenga said he was counting on new quarterback A.J. Feeley becoming another Dan Marino.

Above anything else, Huizenga expressed confidence about what the team has done since the end of last season.

"People will still have in their minds, 'Ah, they didn't make any changes, they're not going to be any better this year.' But I think it will be," he said. "Only time will tell. We could argue all day long about whether we're going to be better or not and it wouldn't mean anything. We just have to wait and see."

The next day, Wannstedt defended Mare, saying it wasn't one player or play that let down the Dolphins. Wannstedt said he had a "ton of confidence" in his kicker.

Among other issues:

-- Wannstedt said that is will be the year fullback Rob Konrad is used more frequently, even though he realized the same thing has been said before.

-- Free agent offensive tackle Damion McIntosh is likely to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list as he recovers from ankle surgery. The Dolphins would hope to get him back six weeks into the regular season and hope he could compete for significant playing time quickly.

-- Cornerback Patrick Surtain will slide inside against three-wideout formations and cover the slot. Wannstedt called Surtain the best in the league at it.

-- The Dolphins are hoping to sign Surtain and safety Sammy Knight to contract extensions to free up cap space that then could be used to sign defensive end Adewale Ogunleye and wide receiver Chris Chambers to long-term deals. Both players are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next offseason.


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