.FLORIDA SPORTS BUZZ
Tony Sparano confident Miami Dolphins will fill void at safety
Defensive back Earl Thomas of Texas jumps in the air to catch the football in drills during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 2, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
SCOTT BOEHM / GETTY IMAGES
By BARRY JACKSON
Among the topics Dolphins coach Tony Sparano addressed Tuesday were two positions in flux -- safety and guard.
The Dolphins know they need a starting free safety to replace ousted Gibril Wilson and Sparano insisted Tuesday, ``We'll find the right player for us. I mean, we just will.'' Of failed attempts to sign Antrel Rolle or Ryan Clark, Sparano said, ``We tried.''
New Orleans' Darren Sharper is by far the best unrestricted free agent left, but Miami is not among four teams pursuing him. The Dolphins studied Sharper and haven't necessarily ruled him out but have been focusing on safeties in the upcoming NFL Draft.
They have arranged private visits at team headquarters for Texas' Earl Thomas (an option for Miami with the No. 12 pick) and Georgia's Reshad Jones (a second- or third-round option).
Last week, they went to Atlanta for a private workout with Georgia Tech's Morgan Burnett, a potential second-rounder with 14 interceptions in three years. If the Dolphins cannot find another starting caliber safety, then Chris Clemons and Tyrone Culver will compete to start alongside Yeremiah Bell.
• Sparano said he will play newcomer Richie Incognito at right guard. That would leave Nate Garner as a possible starter at left guard, with Donald Thomas competing at both guard spots. ``We're going to put all of them out there and see what happens,'' Sparano said. And don't rule out another guard being added.
Last week, the Dolphins summoned Idaho's Mike Iupati to team headquarters. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has him going 17th overall and calls him ``the most dominant offensive lineman'' in this draft. Still, Miami has other pressing needs and cannot afford to use a high pick on a guard.
The Dolphins have talked to several teams about Justin Smiley, who will be traded, and want a third-rounder but probably would settle for a fourth or fifth. Sparano said Smiley ``has been a good player for us'' but that his injury history was a factor in parting ways. (Sparano would not specify other factors.)
Incognito has committed too many penalties and that is ``not something I'm going to tolerate,'' Sparano said. ``Richie understands that very clear. Where we are right now is one of the lowest-penalized teams for the two years I've been here. It is a way to win and lose in this league. . . . I like his physical play. I like his toughness. I've been watching Richie for a long time. He's knocking people down with his hands.''
Thomas, who lost his starting job to Garner in December, must improve on the fundamentals and the mental part of the game, Sparano said.
• Receiver talk: The Dolphins scheduled a private workout for Thursday with Syracuse's Mike Williams, a potential mid-round pick who caught 49 passes for 746 yards in seven games in 2009 before quitting the team in anticipation of another suspension. (He missed the 2008 season on academic suspension.) The Dolphins had a private session with LSU's Brandon LaFell, a potential second-rounder, after his Pro Day, and met this week with Louisville's Scott Long, a potential late-round pick who impressed at the NFL Combine.
• Bengals free agent linebacker Rashad Jeanty, who drew Miami's interest and visited Dolphins camp last week, is expected to re-sign with Cincinnati. Sparano said ``there's some improvement needed'' from Cameron Wake and Charlie Anderson, who are Miami's best outside linebackers under contract.
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