Miami Conference Calls

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Transcripts of conference calls with Miami quarterback Chad Pennington and head coach Tony Sparano on Wednesday:    

DOLPHINS QB CHAD PENNINGTON

On the last time he spoke with Eric Mangini…

The last time I spoke with Eric was Wednesday night before the Cleveland game. We had a really good conversation. Most of it wasn't even about football. We left on good terms and I understand the nature of the business and how the business side of football works. Everything was fine.

On his thoughts on Sunday's game…

I'm excited because I get a chance to start and to play this game. There's nothing like opening day in the NFL. It's an exciting time for all NFL players. When you get a chance to lead a team, it's exciting.

On the outside, with the hype around the game and all the transitions that have happened between the two teams, one would think that this is a revenge game or a statement game, but I don't approach it that way. I approach it as our opening-day game, which is exciting for all of us, and all teams want to get off to a good start. I also approach it as the first round of a 16-round fight. It's a long season.

This is my ninth year in the NFL and I really understand that. I would be doing myself and disservice, as well as my team, for me to get all emotional about it and to act like this is the only game in the season. It's an important game because it's our first game and so is our next game. Obviously it's a division game. If you want to do well in the league and put yourself in a position to be successful, division games are really important.

On if he thought he would face the Jets after he was released…

There were so many emotions and thoughts running through my mind when it first happened that I didn't really know what to think. Once things started to settle down and the possibilities started to arise, I knew it was a possibility, but that wasn't the reason I made the decision.

I had to make the best decision for me as a professional athlete, take my family in to consideration, and also go some place where I could help a team win and be successful. That was my total goal. It had nothing to do with facing the Jets or anything about the situation whatsoever.

On his transition to Miami's offense…

It's certainly been a whirlwind the last four to five weeks. There has been a lot of stuff going on as far as trying to get to know your new teammates, understanding how we do things here in Miami, and also being able to familiarize yourself with the offense and the things you're required to do to help your offense be successful.

It's a learning process for me every day. Each day I'm trying to pick up something new and each day I'm trying to learn from my teammates and learn how my receivers run routes on the field and get a feel for my offensive line and my running backs and tight ends. It's a learning process and it will continue on throughout the year.

On how the presence of Bill Parcells and Dan Henning factored into his decision to sign with Miami…

I first had to look at the opportunity that was available and look at all the opportunities that were out there and as a professional decide what was best for me as a quarterback. I love being in the huddle. I love leading my team. That's what I love to do. I felt like this opportunity gave me a chance to do that.

With Coach Parcells and Coach Henning being around my rookie year and Bill drafting me, it did make the situation a little bit more comfortable because I knew those guys. I had been in Coach Henning's office before. I did have a little bit of familiarity as to what to expect once I made the decision to come down here.

On how it's possible to not feel an extra incentive about playing the Jets...

I would be remiss in saying that I'm emotionless. I'm a human being. All of us have emotions. But my whole goal is to stay focused entirely on what I need to do to learn my responsibilities and help us win. It would be a disservice to my teammates and to myself if I put too much into the emotional part of this and not being able to go out there and perform well and not giving us a chance to win.

On seeing his former teammates on the other side of the field…

It's weird and it's different. I've never experienced it before. I've experienced playing against a former teammate, but I've never experienced playing against a former team. That is different.

On if he poses a threat for the Jets due to his knowledge of the team's playbook…

At the end of the day, if you have a game like this and you have a former player or a former team that you're playing against, it's strictly about execution, knowing your responsibilities and understanding what you need to do to be successful. You can't get caught up in a guessing game and trying to be right every play.

I understand that they have a good team. They have good players and they're going to be in the right spot and they're going to make some plays. We have to do what we need to do to put ourselves in the position to be successful as well. If something does happen that doesn't go our way, we don't blink and let it spiral into more negative things, and being able to bounce out of it.

On if he has spoken to WR Laveranues Coles since he was released…

We have a good relationship. We always have. I've been able to talk to him while it was happening and even after. We've always had good conversations and I'm one of his biggest fans. He's an emotional being. That's what makes him really good because he has a lot of passion for not only what he does, but for who he plays with. He'll be fine.

On of he has kept in touch with other former teammates…

I've been able to talk to a few other guys and text-message back and forth. That's one thing that's always great about having teammates. No matter if you change teams, you are still a friend, you are still a teammate, people still care about you regardless if you are an opponent on Sunday. You're an opponent on Sunday, when you step in between those white lines, but when you step outside of that you're friends, you're colleagues.

On why Coles may not have spoken to reporters since the release...

I don't know. Maybe he just doesn't want to deal with the questions. You'd have to ask Laveranues that, whenever you get a chance [laughs]. You may not get the chance, but I don't know for sure.

On his thoughts about the buzz surrounding QB Brett Favre…

It's the nature of this business. If you take this business personal, you'll get your feelings hurt every day. You can't worry about that. I have a lot of respect for Brett and what he's been able to do in this league. He's a championship quarterback. For those of us who haven't won a championship, that's what we're striving to accomplish.

I haven't put much thought or energy into it. It is a situation that's simple. The Jets felt like they needed to go and get Brett Favre to be their quarterback and they felt like I wasn't the guy. It's really simple. You can't worry about why or why not, you move on and respect the time you had there and the people you worked with on a daily basis and move on. You can look at it as an obstacle or an opportunity. I've always attempted to look at things as an opportunity.

On if the decision to acquire Favre could be viewed as a mistake in the long run...

I'm not sure. I think that is based solely upon opinion. Some people may say yes, some people may say no and some people may be indifferent. Only time will tell and it's really none of my concern at all.

On disadvantages he and Favre may have, being with their current teams for only a short time…

It's certainly different for both of us. Both of us have played for one team our whole careers. I remember Brett saying, "It's like being a rookie all over again." I think he's right. It is like being a rookie all over again. You're trying to get used to your new surroundings, meet your new teammates and people within your organization. Everything is new and different. Nothing is similar.

The one thing about football is that football is football. With any system, you have similar plays but the terminology is different. Both of us, what we have to do is rely upon our experience and understand that we understand football and we know how to play the game, and let that carry us through.

On if he has not been unlimited in the Dolphins' offense...

That's certainly been my goal, to not be a limitation. That's why I've been in here constantly, since day one, making sure that anything and everything our coaches want to do offensively I'm capable of doing, and not only doing but doing well. That's been my goal the past 4½ weeks: to catch up, stay after practice, and come in early in the morning to gain as much knowledge as I can so that we can be as effective as we can be.

On if he is surprised the Jets did not take any steps to prevent him from signing with a division rival…

I really don't know what to think about that. I'm just grateful to the Jets for allowing me to become a free agent and pursue the interest that I wanted to pursue. I really appreciate that. That was very thoughtful and very respectful. I'm grateful for that.

On if QB Dan Marino's legacy is still felt in Miami…

Sure. Absolutely. It's similar to Joe Namath's legacy in New York, in terms of quarterbacks who were very successful and people grew to know and love because of the way they handled themselves and how good they were on the field. Their legacy remains regardless. I look forward to the day that I'm able to talk to Dan and take a few pointers and notes and just learn from him. He had an amazing career and he was a well-respected man around here and I can't wait to meet him.

On his assessment of the Dolphins…

My expectation for us is to really work and get better, to come out with a hungry attitude and focus on the few things, each day, to get better at and make sure we practice with a purpose. Just take it one day at a time, make sure we don't look too far ahead and don't do anything to jeopardize what we're trying to build each day. That comes through straight hard work and a lot of communication between each other as players and coaches and making sure we put a good product out there.

DOLPHINS HC TONY SPARANO

On if he believes QB Chad Pennington is treating the opener as a regular game…

Just watching the way he has prepared over the last several weeks that we've had him, yes, I believe that. I think he is a pretty good professional and I think he's smart enough to know that this thing is a marathon and there are 16 of these, not just one of them.

On if he was surprised that Pennington became a free agent...

Yes, I was surprised when he became available. My initial reaction was that we'd like to have this guy. I just thought that he's a guy that could bring a dimension to our football team that we didn't have at the time. No disrespect to any of our other quarterbacks, they were just young people. We felt like he could provide some veteran leadership to our young team.

On if Pennington brings a competitive advantage through his knowledge of the Jets...

No, I really don't think so. From our end, and I've mentioned this to our people here, in my mind that's all overrated. What I believe is that we game-plan here as coaches, we sit in a room for long periods of time, try to come up with the best plan to attack people, and that's what we go on. Not really from a player's standpoint, being in another place, any information that goes one way or the other.

On if he is concerned that Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff attended practice at Miami during his retirement…

No, I'm not really concerned about it. Certainly, at the time, had I known that he was under contract, I would not have allowed it and would not have allowed him out at practice. Nonetheless, Mike is a really good coach, an outstanding coach. I have no problem with it one way or the other.

On if he thought Westhoff was a "free agent" coach at the time…

Yes, to be honest with you, I really didn't know. But it's no big deal. We still have to play the game.

On how it is working with Bill Parcells…

Exciting. It's been great. Bill has taught me an awful lot about the game, from a game management standpoint, from a personnel standpoint, the way the game works, what makes the team tick, all those things. I came into this relationship with Bill with my eyes and ears wide open and I learned an awful lot from him, and I still do.

On how Pennington is playing…

He has looked very good. He's throwing the ball well and seems to have a lot of confidence. He has a pretty good grasp of what we're doing right now. The guy is as diligent as they come. He spent an awful lot of time learning it and did a nice job that way. I've seen great progress over the last couple of weeks.

On the dynamic that QB Brett Favre brings to the Jets offense…

I think he's a tremendous player. I always have. I've had the opportunity to play against him several times and have been on the short end of that a bunch of times. He's an exciting, dynamic player in our league and he has been for a long time. He's a guy that provides instant leadership and instant credibility to offenses. To the players around him, he makes the players play a little bit harder. I have a lot of respect for Brett Favre.

On how much he interacts with Parcells and on Bill's sense of humor…

He's a little bit more laid back right now. I interact with him on a daily basis. He's 100 steps from me here in the building. If I need to, I go down and I find him, or he'll come to sit with me and we'll visit for a little while. Usually each day we'll touch base at one point or another. He's a lot more relaxed right now, although it's getting into game week so I've seen his mood change a little bit.

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