|ESPN.com: NFL Nation||[Print without images]|
DAVIE, Fla. -- Another journalist was marveling at the attitude he encountered on our first day in the Miami Dolphins' locker room since they cleaned out their stalls after a 1-15 debacle.
The writer was struck by the naked optimism of a team that, across the board, is being picked to finish fourth in the AFC East.
Naiveté, was my response. Not that the Dolphins lack experience. There just aren't enough of them still around from last year's embarrassment to know how bad things were.
Sure enough, I later discovered the Dolphins lead the NFL in new blood. ESPN's John Clayton informed me 26 players, essentially half the roster, weren't on the team last year. They didn't experience rookie coach Cam Cameron and his proclamation that he wanted his players to "fail forward fast."
The massive overhaul was imperative to changing the Dolphins' culture.
It's much easier to believe with Bill Parcells as the architect and his hand-picked GM and coach carrying out the plan. The players also see veteran QB Chad Pennington as their leader, not Cleo Lemon or John Beck.
All four co-captains from last year -- QB Trent Green, LB Zach Thomas, DE Jason Taylor, K Jay Feely -- are gone.
The Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons are tied for second with 20 new players apiece on their current rosters. The Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens have 18 newcomers each.
The rest of the AFC East underwent far less turnover. The New York Jets added 15 new players, the New England Patriots 14 and the Buffalo Bills 12.
The Dallas Cowboys have the fewest new players with eight. The San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints have added only 10.
The Dolphins' 26 new players include 11 rookies, fourth-most on rosters as of Monday. The Chiefs have 15 rookies, the Indianapolis Colts and Ravens have 12 rookies each.
Of the 43 players who started at least one game for Miami last year, 18 remain on the roster.