Miami Dolphins Off-Season Profile: Tony Sparano Mixing It Up

Brant HoughtonContributor IJune 2, 2009

MIAMI - NOVEMBER 16:  Running back Ronnie Brown #23 of the Miami Dolphins runs against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter on November 16, 2008 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Raiders 17-15.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

The Miami Dolphins OTA for the day is now complete. There were some surprising formations that they use, and some surprising information overall. 

The biggest surprise of the day was when Matt Roth announced that he went through a groin injury during the 2007 season, and played through it the whole 2008 season. He said that he recently had surgery on it three months ago, and in the process, lost 10 pounds, and is now down to 275 pounds. He also says that his mobility is better than ever.

While on the topic of Roth, head coach Tony Sparano said after practice that "Roth's recognition of coverages and formations is outstanding," Sparano said. It has become so good, the coach said, that Roth is now reacting instinctively rather than thinking. Roth is the favorite to win the strongside linebacker spot barring an injury or lack of production.

A big surprise today was the alignment of Sean Smith. Smith lined up with the first string cornerbacks today opposite of Will Allen. The coaches told Smith only the morning of the OTA. Sparano said that the staff did not want Smith to think about it too much. Despite the lineup change, this is an unofficial lineup, which means that Smith did not necessarily win the starting job over Eric Green, but that it might just be a reward for his improvement over the span of the OTAs.

The Dolphins worked on their Wildcat today as usual, and the spread formation, but how they worked on it came as a pleasant surprise. Today, the staff had both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams throwing balls out of the Wildcat, and Williams connected on a bomb to Ted Ginn Jr. for a long pass down the sideline.

The quarterbacks today looked very comfortable. Chad Pennington looked like his usual efficient self, and Chad Henne showed off his arm today with a couple of rockets, but Henne also threw off target a couple of times as well. Pat White continued to settle in to his position.

The line had an all-around good practice. Jake Grove drove the defensive tackle Louis Ellis off the line, and was the one initiating the contact, while Justin Smiley remained at the starting left guard spot. Brandon Frye also played at the right guard spot for both the first and second string.

Special teams was amazing today as punter Brandon Fields boomed punt after punt into the red zone, as Ted Ginn, Chris Williams and Davone Bess returned the punts. Kicker Dan Carpenter converted 6-6 field goals. Carpenter is the only starter who has no competition for his job. 

News regarding injuries were Andy Alleman remained on the exercise bike, while David Martin and Donald Thomas ran in the endzone.

Overall, the OTA was the most successful one so far this off-season, which is expected as the summer goes on. Tony Sparano says he is pleased with where his team is at right now. He goes on to say that Ted Ginn is impressing all of the coaches. More surprisingly is the fact that Sparano said that Ginn is the most likely candidate to step up and take the role of the true no. 1 receiver.

Sparano also says that" Ted Ginn right now, if you said to me, 'Tell the me the player that in the seven or eight practices we've had has impressed you the most,' Ted Ginn is in the top two right now," Sparano said. "The way he's handling himself out there and the way the offense has started to slow down for him that way. I've seen him in some situations be pretty dominant." Wow, never in my right mind would I have ever imagined anybody describing Ted Ginn as dominating at the receiver position.