Ask Sparano about Cobbs, and you'll get an earful

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
DAVIE, Fla. -- Tony Sparano hopes Patrick Cobbs will be a Miami Dolphin for life.

"I have to be honest with you. It's going to be really hard for me to give that guy up," Sparano said of the utility back. "I really like Pat Cobbs as a player. I like what he brings to the table for our football team."

When discussing Miami's backfield, rarely does the conversation get beyond Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. But when asked about Cobbs after Wednesday morning's practice, Sparano barely contained himself.

"People coming in here, having to compete with Pat Cobbs, they have an all-day sucker," Sparano said. "This guy's going to show up, and he's going to give you his best shot every single day.

"I don't want to gloat about him at all, but he's one of the few players on this team that what you see every day on the practice field is what he does in the game. He plays at that pace every day."

No wonder the Dolphins signed him to a three-year contract extension during last season.

Cobbs came to the Dolphins as a vagabond. He went undrafted out of North Texas in 2006, signed with the New England Patriots, but was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers that September and cut a week later.

"I had nothing to fall back on," Cobbs said. "I was just a guy off the streets, who was trying to earn everything he got, trying to get a shot."

The Dolphins soon signed him to their practice squad and added him to the active roster in December 2006. He has been contributing ever since, playing for three coaches (Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, Sparano) in three seasons.

"It's definitely been a long road for me," Cobbs said. "When you think back about all that stuff, it definitely makes me smile to think about how far I've come and what I had to deal with to get to where I am now."

He quickly became one of Sparano's favorites last summer. Cobbs stood out on special teams and gained the rookie coach's trust as the third-down back. He made his first two NFL starts last year.

"He has run skills," Sparano said. "He catches the ball out of the backfield. He blocks on third down. He's a special-teams player, the best one that we had last year. He has return ability.

"There's a lot of jobs for a guy like Pat Cobbs. That's what makes him valuable. I like those guys that can do a lot of jobs."

Cobbs rushed 12 times for 88 yards and one touchdown. He caught 19 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns, both against the Houston Texans in Week 6. One went for 54 yards off a Wildcat flea flicker. He also took a screen pass 80 yards for a touchdown to break Miami's record for longest reception by a running back.

He returned eight kickoffs at a 23.6-yard average, highest on the team. He also tied Jason Allen for the team lead with 16 special-teams tackles.

"It was gratifying last year, but this year's a whole new year," Cobbs said. "You've got to prove it all over again.

"You've got to keep your head up and take the reps that you're given, go a hundred miles an hour. Even if you don't know exactly what you're doing, make sure you do it at a hundred miles an hour. Coaches like to see stuff like that."