Press Pass: Sparano Isn't Sharing Secrets

Dolphins head Coach Tony Sparano on Joey Porter, Jake Grove, what a Nose Tackle brings to a defense and what he might do with his corners against the Patriots. conversation with the coach from this week.

(On an injury update to Jake Grove)
– “Did not practice.”

(On if he ever thinks about the Wild Card or just focuses on the Division)
– “No, I think there is still a chance to win the division, that is what we want to do. That is our focus.”

(On if Joey Porter practiced today)
– “Joey did not practice, I rested him today.”

(On what a nose tackle does for a 3-4 defense)
– “First of all, a good nose [tackle] in our scheme is no different than a quarterback to the offense. From a mental standpoint, he is not asked to do a lot of those things, but from a physical standpoint it really does start there. My opinion, there are three positions on the defense I think when you are putting together a 3-4 defense that you really want to have your strength at these positions; one would be nose [tackle] the other two would be your outside linebacker spots. I think those are critical positions when you are putting together the 3-4. As far as having a really good one and what that is like, I think it takes a tremendous amount of pressure off of the second level people, the inside linebackers, even at times off of your safeties, those type of people because you can. Having the ability in the 3-4 to play two deep, some of those types of things, I think gives you and still be able to stop the run with seven people in the box gives you a little bit of a luxury and advantage that way.”

(On Channing Crowder mentioning he got fined for something he said on the field)
– “I don’t really remember the answer to that… Honestly, I am not trying to avoid it. I am assuming it is last year’s deal we are talking about. But that is out of my hands. It comes from someone higher than me.”

(On Quentin Moses not being at practice)
– “Yes, he had a personal deal with his family.”

(On how Jake [Long] is working with Nate Garner on the left side of the line)
– “Very well. I think what you have there is two football heads, two guys who like talking about football. Nate is pretty good that way. He is a guy who spends an awful lot of time at it himself in there. Those guys hack film together and do a pretty good job that way. Both of them communicate really well that way. Both have been here about the same amount of time, kind of growing up together and have studied film together and doing some of things together. From a communication standpoint, that hasn’t been a problem at all out there. They have done a good job.”

(On if the team is playing to save the season Sunday)
– “I don’t know the scenarios out there right now, I don’t really pay attention to those. I just know that we have a chance. There are two teams playing last night, they had chances and one team separated themselves in our division a little bit. I feel like we need to do some catching up. Certainly we know we have to catch up to New England. The Jets have another win on us right now, so that is going to be important for us. I think this is certainly a critical game for us. We know the importance of the game, I think we understand. As far as how many bats at bats we have left after that, I am not sure.”

(On his view regarding the league possibly lengthening the season to 18 games, and if rosters would need to be expanded as well if this change were to be made)
– “I’m certainly not going to challenge that issue one way or the other. Whatever it is that’s decided down the road, obviously, is what we’re going to do. I would say to you that from my end, it’s hard if you’re going to go to 18 games not to expand rosters one way or the other, just looking around the league. That’s my humble opinion.”

(On the year Donald Thomas had had so far)
– “He’s had a good year. I think it’s been a heck of a learning experience for him right now, as for a lot of people out there. You have to realize Donald Thomas has done very little of this in his career. I kind of made a statement to the staff the other day, saying, this is really uncharted territory for this guy right now. 15 games, whatever it is, 16 games that he’s played right now, last year’s ballgame, and all the pre-season stuff. That’s a little bit different for him, even in college. That wasn’t it, and he obviously didn’t play a whole lot in college. From a physical standpoint, I think it’s different. From a mental standpoint, what you’re being asked to do every week, the mental grind of preparing every week for this long is a little bit different, so sometimes you can probably see it getting a little bit long for him. He’s done a good job of battling through it, really good job, and is eager. This guy is probably one of the most eager guys that you’re ever going to see. He’ll come right back here [the facility] after ballgames and go watch the game. If we play a home game, he’ll come right in here and you’ll find him running around this building trying to watch himself play instead of waiting to the next day. He’ll be texting David DeGuglielmo all night long, just texting him, ‘God, I should have done this with this footwork, I thought about this, what did you think of this?’ David will come back in the morning and say, ‘God, this guy kept me up last night’ [laughter]. It’s a good problem.”

(On if when Thomas is substituted for in the ballgame, it’s more about preservation than about his level of play)
– “Yeah, it’s a little bit more of that. Breather, preservation, any of those kind of things. I just think sometimes, and I don’t really like it, I think you guys know I’m more of a ‘put five of them out there and play until their tongues drop.’ That’s kind of my feeling. Sometimes, I think you do have to give a guy a chance to step back for a second, give a guy a chance to catch his breath, listen to what’s going on a little bit during the course of the game, hear it a little differently, and then put him back into the game. We’ve been able to do that, and while we’re doing it, have a few of these other guys grow. You never know when you’re going to need them, we learned that.”

(On if he expects Nate Garner to start at LG Sunday)
– “We’ll see.”

(On if he is rotating Garner, Thomas, and Justin Smiley)
– “I would say yes, we are rotating those three guys right now, yeah.”

(On if he has seen anything since the last Patriots game that would make him re-think the way he utilized his cornerbacks in the first meeting)
– “Not necessarily. We’ll see, see what we do.”

Transcript courtesy team media relations

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