Tony Sparano has a private list of players he needs to see a SIGNIFICANT amount of growth from for the Miami Dolphins to take the next step.http://blogs.sun-sentinel.com/sports_fo ... pment.html
There was only one exception where the Dolphins head coach named named, and no one should be surprised that person was nose tackle Paul Soliai, who had his most productive season in 2010 as an injury fill-in, but didn’t exactly prove he was start material.
As the roster presently stands, Soliai is in position to begin the season as a starter at the most critical position on the defense because Jason Ferguson, the team’s grizzled veteran nose tackle, will sit out the first eight games due to a NFL suspension for violating the league’s policy on banned supplements.
Soliai was decent as Ferguson’s replacement in the second half of the season. He contributed a career-high 25 tackles, and forced one fumble in his 14 games. But the fact he was regularly single blocked in his five starts compromised the integrity of the team’s 3-4 defense.
In order for the Dolphins to get better on defense Sparano admits Soliai will have to take his game to the next level because he’s the most important cog in front line of a 3-4 scheme.
“Paul’s one of these players that you hope will take the next step. Paul Soliai is one of them and you can write that down. But I would say to you that I would hope that he does take the next step,” Sparano said. “This guy got better for us at the end of the season last year, he really did. [Defensive line] coach Kacy Rogers did a good job with him, but Paul got better, and he got better in a lot of ways. I seen a better pro out of this guy as the season went on.
“ He started to learn what was important and there’s more learning to be done, and there’s more things from a physical standpoint to be done. So I’d hope that he would take the next step because he does have some ability.”
Sparano did not rule out drafting more nose tackles, and he did add that the team has a few contingency plans if Soliai doesn’t hold up on the front line until Ferguson’s back. While he didn’t name names in that instance, and educated guess makes me conclude he’s referring to Ryan Baker, a rookie free agent addition last year, and Ikaika Alama-Francis, a free agent defensive tackle they signed late last season.
When asked why Ferguson was re-signed despite his impending suspension, Sparano said the Trifecta would have jumped at the chance to acquire a nose tackle of his caliber in the second half of last season, so why not be proactive.