Dolphins' Conference Calls

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Transcripts of reporters' conference calls with Miami's Tony Sparano and Joey Porter on Wednesday afternoon:    

HEAD COACH TONY SPARANO

On the limited amount of injuries throughout the season…

I think that we're very fortunate, obviously. Our guys have been pretty healthy.

On if this is the least amount of injuries he has seen…

It's not the least amount I've ever seen. When I was at Dallas when we won 13 games, we were pretty healthy there as well. We do a great job in our offseason program. We challenge our people there and we've been fortunate. With that being said, we've lost three or four players for the year already.

On QB Chad Pennington…

Chad Pennington has meant an awful lot to this team. He's a tremendous leader and has done an awful lot for our young players and this football team. More than that, it's just been his leadership skills and the way that he goes about his business. He's a true professional. The guy's work ethic is unmatched from anybody that I've been around.

On his initial reaction to the Jets releasing Pennington…

Me personally, I hadn't had history with Chad other than playing against him. I was pretty excited about the opportunity at that time to possibly get him. We had three young quarterbacks that were all battling at the time, and none really separating themselves at that particular point. We just knew that the piece that might've been missing would be this veteran quarterback that can provide the leadership that we would hope he would provide. When Chad became available it just worked out for us. We got lucky.

On LB Joey Porter…

Joey has had a tremendous season obviously with what he's done. His numbers are outstanding, but more importantly I think the timing of some of his plays has been tremendous for us. He has come in and risen to the occasion in games in some critical situations. What it has meant to our defense — we're a defense that's built on trying to apply pressure to the quarterback. I think if your outside linebackers, in the defense that we play, can't do that, then you don't have a chance. Joey has been a pivotal part of that.

On if Porter's value to the defense is equivalent to Pennington's value to the offense…

Yes, I would absolutely say that. I think where Chad's leadership skills and the way that he has been able to lead us on the field offensively, Joey has been able to do the same thing on the defensive side of the ball. Joey brings a little something different to the defense, which most defenses need. He's an exciting player and he's a player that plays with high energy. He's producing.

On if he is surprised by his team's success…

From my standpoint and the players in that locker room, I would say no, I'm not surprised. I see how hard they work every day in practice. I see how hard they worked in the off-season. I just felt like when some of the pieces were coming together, like Chad and some of the other guys that we brought in here — as you know we really made a bunch of changes early on in this process — as those pieces were coming together all I knew at the time was that if we were able to play like a team. If we could form some type of team chemistry, we might have a chance to do something pretty good.

On if he is surprised the Dolphins were 1-15 last year…

Sure. There's always that in the back of our mind. Quite honestly, every week that we win a game somebody from the media reminds us of that. We know that we were 1-15 a year ago and it's something that obviously I think a little bit about, just because of the way that this thing has been turned around. I still have about 25 players on this team that were here and they were part of that 1-15. From my standpoint, the reason I think about it is because I'm pretty happy about the turnaround for those players.

LB JOEY PORTER

On what the feeling is like in Miami…

It's exciting. Guys are fired up. It will be a big game for everybody. Everybody is fired up and just trying to do the little things that we need to do to prepare ourselves for this big game that we have coming up in New York.

On how important it is to be fired up in football…

You have to come out and play with emotion. This game is too tough and you love to play it so much, so why not play it with passion. The guys understand that. A game like this, you don't need anybody to pump you up. You should be pre-wired. This is for the division. This is for your playoff life. This has been a great turnaround for us. Everybody knows that. How they come out playing with emotion shouldn't even be brought up. It should be automatic.

On what QB Chad Pennington has meant to the Dolphins…

He's going to take the same approach that he does every week. Everybody knows what's at stake at this game. He hasn't changed his approach. He's ready to go up there and play good football like he's been doing for us all year. He's been, quietly, our savior. He hasn't gotten all the recognition that he deserves. He knows how we feel about him in Florida. We love him. We're happy to have him as our quarterback. We're ready to go up there and play football.

On what has impressed him about Pennington…

He has leadership. He's the captain and how he has taken control of the offense. He wasn't even here for a week when he was already taking control of the offense. His first couple of days here, he came on a Saturday, but on Monday at practice he took all the snaps with the ones. From that day on he took control of the offense.

You could just tell. He made all the checks and all the reads. He was doing stuff that the [players] weren't doing before. He was meeting with the offensive linemen and the receivers. [Things] that leaders and captains are supposed to do. He passed that on to our young guys, so he has them working harder. Everything he brought to the team is what we needed. That's what you have when you have a veteran, leader quarterback like Chad.

On how sweet it would be for Pennington to beat the Jets…

That is not the focus. Our focus is to go up there and win the game, win the division and for us to make it to the playoffs. If it happens like that and what he gets out of it will be extra for him. That is not our mindset: "Let's go do this for Chad." We're going down there to win the football game for us, as a team. We have to have this game to get in, period. It already has enough magnitude. The game is big in itself. We're not going to do this for one person. It's for the team. The extra stuff that he gets out of it, if we come out with a victory, I'll be happy for him. That will be something that he deals with personally. It hasn't been brought up at all.

On if it is human nature for Pennington to want to beat the Jets…

All he has to do is go out there and play his best football. He just has to do what he's been doing, put us in a situation to win the game. I had motivation to go against every team that didn't draft me. That motivation is always going to be there. We went and played Pittsburgh last year after they released me. You want to go out there and win. You're not going to do anything outside of the scheme of trying to make sure you have a great game. You want to win. If you win, period, that's big enough. We're not asking Chad to go out there and do nothing that he hasn't been doing all year – go out there and lead this football team to a victory. However he feels his satisfaction after that is good for him. I think his focus is trying to make sure his team gets the victory.

On if he thinks QB Brett Favre has dropped off in his ability…

He's Brett Favre. He just looks like that because he's been playing for so long. He still goes out there and plays at a high level. He's Brett Favre. He's been doing this for a while. Nobody's going to look like they did when they were 24, when they've played that many years in the league. What else can he do? I don't know how old he is, but I know he's up there. For him to still play at this level, he can still play. He's still playing.

On if he is surprised the Jets released Pennington…

I'm not concerned with how they didn't want him up there. I'm just happy that we have him. That was our savior because we were searching for answers at the quarterback position. We got it when we got Chad. However it happened, we're happy that we got him. We'll live and die with that decision on our end. We're happy with what we got. It doesn't bother me with how it went down. I'm just happy we got him. He helped us out tremendously. He got us in the situation that we're in right now.

On if the Jets would have been better with Pennington…

I don't know. I can't tell you what they would have done. No one thought we would be in this situation this year, but we are. I know that a lot of credit can go to Chad. Everything happens for a reason. There was a reason he was supposed to come down to South Florida. He's here and we have him.

On how much of an influence Bill Parcells has had on the Dolphins…

He had a tremendous influence on the guys. He watches a lot of football. He knows a lot of football. Whenever you're dealing with a smart guy like that, you just want to sit around and pick his brain whenever he feels like he wants to talk to you. He's a guy that doesn't just talk to anybody. You have to wait until he lets you in. He's a good guy. The aura that he brings around him made everyone here step up their game. There are just certain things that he doesn't allow and everybody knows that. You just have to be ready. He got the attention of all the players here.

On what he attributes his success this year to…

Just being able to play football. The system is everything. I can go out there and do everything you ask me to do, but if I'm going to be able to put up the numbers, that's just how they're going to put it. I just have more opportunities and have been put in a situation to succeed. I'm put in a position to go out there and make plays.

That wasn't always the same a year ago. It's no big deal. I don't care too much about what happened last year. My focus is so much greater to what we're doing right now as a team. I never doubted myself. I knew that I could play football. I knew that I didn't move to Florida and forget how to play football. That was never that. If you watch football and know football and watch me over my career, it was easy to look and say "What are they doing with this guy? He's out of position. They're not letting him play." That's just a normal football fan that watches football and can see that. Everything else really didn't matter to me.

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