AFC East: Aaron Halterman

Dolphins free-agency dossier

January, 16, 2009
1/16/09
1:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Compared to the other AFC East clubs, the Miami Dolphins don't have many free agents to worry about. But almost every one was a significant contributor to their 11-5 season last year, and most were starters.

Five of their seven unrestricted free agents accounted for 70 starts.

The other two are center Al Johnson, who joined the team in November and was a versatile reserve, and return specialist Tab Perry, who spent the season on injured reserve.

The Dolphins are about $25 million to $27 million under the salary cap.

Unrestricted (free to negotiate with other teams beginning Feb. 27)

Restricted (Dolphins have right to match offer from other team)

  • None

Exclusive rights (cannot negotiate with other teams if tendered qualifying offer)

Dolphins couldn't be healthier

October, 2, 2008
10/02/08
8:53
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins have released 11 injury reports. Ten of them have been completely blank. The lone exception listed one player, cornerback Michael Lehan, as questionable with an ankle injury the Friday before the season opener.

Pardon me for being skeptical, but a blank report after one month of training camp, four preseason exhibitions and three regular-season games, prompted a question.

I asked Dolphins coach Tony Sparano if he was an opposing coach, would he believe a totally clean injury report.

"I don't care whether they believe it or not," Sparano replied. "They can watch our practice tapes.

"Whenever I'm getting ready to play, and I look at the injury report one way or the other, I always assume that everybody is going to be playing. So I assume that everybody is going to be playing, and we prepare that way."

As for any disbelief of Miami's injury reports, Sparano said "I could care less right now. We got a healthy team, thank God." He added the obligatory knuckle rap on the wooden lectern.

They're definitely healthier than they were in 2007.

The Dolphins did have to place one player on injured reserve since the season began. Rookie guard Donald Thomas suffered a foot injury in Week 1. They placed tight end Aaron Halterman and linebacker Kelvin Smith (two players who would have had outside shots at making the 53-man roster) on IR during training camp.

At this time last year, the Dolphins had only four players on IR, but they finished October with eight players on the list. At the end of the season, the Dolphins had 15 players on IR.

No wonder among the first moves football operations boss Bill Parcells made after assuming office was firing the strength-and-conditioning coaches.

Random thoughts from the AFC East

August, 3, 2008
8/03/08
8:33
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It was a lazy Sunday in the AFC East. Three of the four teams took the day off, with the New England Patriots the only ones on the field. They rested Friday.

So what is there to write about, other than whether Brett Favre sat on the aisle or in a window seat on his flight into Green Bay?

Here are some random notes from my travels:

  • I had an interesting chat with Jets C Nick Mangold after Saturday's scrimmage. I asked if the O-line was under the microscope with the high-profile acquisitions of G Alan Faneca and T Damien Woody.

"None of our skill guys are going to be able to do anything if we don't block," Mangold said. "That's how you really judge yourself -- if your skill guys have a good game. You take a little pride in that because you don't get too many stats as a lineman. So you always feel a little bit of the weight of the offense on you, but that's part of the fun of being an offensive lineman."

  • The Bills' youthful offense has been struggling on installation days, which isn't comforting, but it's understandable. They have a second-year QB (Trent Edwards), a second-year RB (Marshawn Lynch) and a rookie No. 2 WR (James Hardy). The TE position is sorting itself out, and T Langston Walker has been switched to the left side because of Jason Peters' contract dispute.
  • Bill Belichick, the only coach to speak with reporters today, addressed the Patriots' backup QBs.

On Matt Cassel: "Matt has had a good camp. He has had a real good off-season. He did a nice job in the spring. ... I am confident in Matt. This is his fourth year so he has a good understanding of what we are doing and he has done a pretty good job of it when he has had the opportunity to play."

On Matt Gutierrez: He is probably as hard a working player as we have on this team, so he's worked hard to get better and build off of last year. ... It will be interesting to see Gutierrez play with a year under his belt. He played last year at this time. He was obviously a rookie but had very few snaps, very little experience and won a spot on the team so it will be interesting to see how those two guys do."

On Kevin O'Connell: "Kevin has made improvement since the spring. This is kind of the second time around in terms of teaching our plays and all that. We taught them all in the spring and then we go back and re-teach them here in training camp. I think that has really helped him. He seems a lot more comfortable and confident and is playing quicker at the line of scrimmage."

  • Most scouts viewed Dolphins rookie G Donald Thomas a long-range project when the Dolphins took him late in the sixth round. He didn't play organized football until he was discovered playing pickup hoops at Connecticut. He didn't start until he was a senior.
But Thomas has been Miami's starting right guard for about a week. He has outperformed fourth-round pick Shawn Murphy, while veteran free-agent acquisition Steve McKinney has rebounded slowly from knee surgery. 
  • Bills rookie LB Alvin Bowen, probably gone for the season after suffering a right knee injury Friday, was looking like a fifth or sixth linebacker. But his biggest value would have been on special teams, where the Bills need bodies.
  • Here's a leftover quote I've been meaning to share from Andre Tippett's pre-Hall of Fame news conference in Foxborough, Mass. He was asked, since he wore both helmets, whether he preferred Pat Patriot or the Flying Elvis logo.

"If I had to pick," Tippett said after hemming and hawing, "I just have love for the old Pat Patriot. He just looks like a rugged dude. I would go down a dark alleyway with him any day."

  • From my room on the 10th floor of the Long Island Marriott, I can see the Jets' facility on the Hofstra University campus in the distance. But just a long kickoff away from my headboard is decrepit Nassau Coliseum. With the Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets all moving into new digs, can't people find a way to implode the dump where the Islanders play (or at least attempt to) and build something the long-suffering locals can be proud of?

SPONSORED HEADLINES