Bad Break for Cobbs

Tony Sparano has made no secret of the fact he's a fan of running back Patrick Cobbs, but now he's going to have to finish the season without him. For the second time in three games, the Dolphins have lost a player to a season-ending injury. This one, obviously, doesn't hurt nearly as much as the loss of quarterback Chad Pennington. Or does it?

It seems silly to even ask the question because Pennington was the heart and soul of the team for the past year, but the truth is the offense wasn't functioning particularly well with Pennington at the controls this season.

While Pennington clearly wasn't to blame for the offensive problems, it seems the offense nonetheless has gotten a boost from the arrival of Chad Henne into the lineup.

Bottom line is he made some throws on the final drive of last night's victory over the Jets that Pennington wouldn't have made — the bullet he fired to Greg Camarillo inside the 5-yard line quickly comes to mind.

Mind you, this is not to cheapen what Pennington meant to the Dolphins because his performance last year was the biggest reason the team won the division title. But Chad Henne was destined from the time he was drafted to become the starting quarterback, and all Pennington's injury did was move up the timetable.

As for Cobbs, his injury robs the team of its most versatile player.

That said, it would be a mistake to overdramatize its effect, though. The truth is Cobbs made his share of plays at running back but hadn't been effective at all this season as a kickoff returner.

And at running back, it's not as though the Dolphins don't have talent, with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams already splitting carries.

If the Dolphins need another halfback to carry the ball, they'll now turn to preseason standout Lex Hilliard.

But from this vantage point, whatever carries Cobbs would have gotten should just go to Ricky or Ronnie.

In terms of kickoff returns, unless they get someone else, it would seem logical that Ted Ginn Jr. would take over on a full-time basis. Some folks would have preferred Ginn to Cobbs in the first place, but we say the time has come to look elsewhere.

Ginn just doesn't hit the hole hard enough for our taste, and Cobbs just isn't fast enough to be an explosive returner. In fact, he seemed to regress after doing good work in that department last year.

The bottom line is the Dolphins have overcome the loss of Pennington very well so far, and we're not expecting -- as good a player as Cobbs is -- that the loss of Cobbs will make much of a difference.


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