Football briefs: Dolphins in need of major upgrades at WR and DB
The Way We Hear It
After the Dolphins’ back-to-back victories in Weeks Three and Five, the talk in South Florida centered around how Miami’s current roster was comprised of the core players the club needed to make a playoff push, if not in 2008, then certainly in ’09. Yet on the heels of two straight humbling losses, the discourse has taken on a decidedly different tone. Specifically, the contention now is that for the Dolphins to be truly competitive on a weekly basis, serious personnel upgrades are needed at receiver and in the secondary.
As a source close to the club said, the notion that the Dolphins are neediest for help on the outside shouldn’t be surprising. “When (executive VP of football operations Bill) Parcells got here, his whole mantra has been about building from the inside out. Stacking the lines was the first order of business.” Hence, the club’s decision to spend three of its first four draft picks on offensive and defensive linemen, and placing a priority on signing beefy linemen such as DLs Jason Ferguson and Randy Starks and OG Justin Smiley.
For as pleased as they’ve been with the grunt work on the line, a WR corps headlined by Greg Camarillo isn’t going to get the job done. “They love Camarillo’s toughness, but it’s obvious they’re going to be looking for a true No. 1 receiver in the offseason,” the source said. He went on to say that unheralded youngsters Davone Bess and Brandon London have staked legitimate claims to roster spots for next year, but more touted veterans such as Derek Hagan and Ernest Wilford could be conceding their spots on the team in favor of pass catchers offering more promise.
The problems confronting the Dolphins at the spots opposite the receivers are even more pressing. The way we hear it, CB Will Allen and S Yeremiah Bell are the only defensive backs showing the coaching staff much of anything, and Allen’s inability to snag interceptions — he has two since arriving in Miami from the Giants three years ago — has drawn the ire of a coaching staff that stresses the importance of creating turnovers. One other player the Dolphins haven’t given up hope on is former first-round pick Jason Allen, who’s back at cornerback after shifting back and forth between corner and safety throughout his three-year career.
RAIDERS: Sources in Oakland say Raiders interim head coach Tom Cable hasn’t helped or hurt his cause much in his first few weeks on the job. It’s clear, we hear, that the players are behind him and close observers have been most impressed by his willingness to admit when he’s wrong about a coaching decision.
FALCONS: The way we hear it, Atlanta’s defensive coaches might need to consider mixing up their personnel in the linebacker corps in passing situations. On passing downs, the Falcons have LBs Keith Brooking and Michael Boley on the field, but they have frequently been beaten while dropping back in coverage. Backup SLB Stephen Nicholas, who is quicker than both players, could be called on to relieve one of those veterans in the nickel package during the second half of the season.
SAINTS: It may have appeared as though the Saints rushed WR Marques Colston back to the lineup too quickly as he struggled his way through a Week Seven loss, in which he was held without a catch, but sources say that’s not the case. He was completely healed from the thumb injury that kept him out of five games. We hear it’s taking Colston longer than anyone anticipated to get used to playing at regular game speed.
The Fantasy Buzz
After struggling for a number of weeks while adjusting to his starting role, Patriots QB Matt Cassel seemed to finally put it together last Monday versus Denver, tossing three TDs. With an injury-depleted backfield, the Pats will ask Cassel to throw early and often this week against a Rams defense that is improving but still has a ways to go. He’s worth a roll of the dice in larger leagues.
Titans RB LenDale White probably had the game of his life last week, running for 149 yards and three scores at Kansas City, and he should carry over that success to Monday night. The Colts are giving up 153.5 rushing yards per contest, and Tennessee isn’t likely to pass very often in this one. Both White and backfield mate Chris Johnson are great plays this week.
Outside of his Week Two explosion at Kansas City, Raiders RB McFadden has done next to nothing this season, not rushing for more than 46 yards in any contest. Taking a backseat to Justin Fargas and going against the Ravens’ top-ranked run defense, the rookie should be firmly planted on your bench this week.
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