When the Miami Dolphins re-signed nose tackle Jason Ferguson even though he’ll be suspended for the first eight games of the season, coach Tony Sparano explained that he thinks half a season of Ferguson is better than a whole season of any other nose tackle the Dolphins might sign.
But for the first half of the season, the Dolphins need a nose tackle. And Sparano says that means Paul Soliai needs to step up.
“I need them to take the next step to help us be a better team, there’s no question about it,” Sparano said of certain younger players who need to get better, per the Miami Herald. “Now, I know your next question is who are those players? I’m not going to single those players out, but I do believe that we have a few players here that I need to take the next step.”
And then, after saying he wasn’t going to single those players out, Sparano singled Soliai out.
“Paul’s one of these guys [we’re talking about], one of these players that you hope will take the next step,” Sparano said. “Paul Soliai is one of them and you can write that down.”
A 355-pounder who’s been with the Dolphins for his entire three-year career, Soliai became the starter last season when Ferguson got hurt. He’ll enter the upcoming season as the starter, for at least the first eight games, and Sparano clearly wants him to play better at the start of 2010 than he did at the end of 2009.