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Saturday, September 18, 2010
Dolphins among NFL's youngest, biggest

By Tim Graham

For the second straight season, the Miami Dolphins opened with one of the NFL's least experienced teams.

The NFL this week released its annual demographics report from Week 1 rosters.

The average Dolphin had 3.47 seasons of experience, lowest in the AFC and second-lowest in the league. They carried 13 rookies or first-year players, tied for third in the NFL. They have only four players who are 30 or older, fewest in the NFL.

Chad Pennington
Thirty four-year-old Chad Pennington is one of the elder statesmen of the Dolphins.
Just one of their 30-year-old players is a starter: safety Yeremiah Bell. The others are quarterback Chad Pennington, running back Ricky Williams and long-snapper John Denney.

The only teams greener in any of those categories are the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

By contrast, the Cleveland Browns had 18 players who were 30 or older. The Pittsburgh Steelers had 17.

Not much else stands out from this year's annual report in the AFC East, but there are some interesting notes compared to last year.

The New England Patriots had the NFL's oldest roster last year with an average age of 27.19 years. They dropped to 26.34 years old this year. That makes them slightly younger than the NFL average. Lowering the Patriots' average age were 13 rookies or first-year players, tying them with the Dolphins for third in the league.

The Patriots and the New York Jets, however, have three times as many thirtysomethings as the Dolphins.

Around the NFL, teams averaged 26.45 years, 4.35 seasons of experience and 10.5 rookies or first-year players.

Only one club was slimmer than the Buffalo Bills last year. Their average weight was 240.79 pounds mainly because former head coach Dick Jauron liked mobile defenders for his Tampa 2 defense and valued defensive backs.

Under new head coach Chan Gailey, the Bills have switched to a 3-4 defense and bulked up. Their average weight on opening day was 246.81 pounds. They had 13 players who weighed 300 pounds or more, tying them for sixth in the league.

The Dolphins had the second-heaviest club last year at 251.38 pounds, reflective of Bill Parcells' longstanding attitude that bigger is better. They actually got bigger this year, averaging 253.62 pounds, but dropped to third behind Parcells' previous team, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Baltimore Ravens (by two-one hundredths of a pound).