[Dolphins] Not the time for change
Despite being the last winless team in the NFL, coach Dave Wannstedt doesn't plan to alter the starting lineup.
BY DAVID J. NEAL
Perhaps you figure the silver lining in the ever-expanding winless cloud over the Dolphins is now you'll see some of the Dolphins young players getting more game time.
You want to see that, you better have PlayStation or Xbox. The coach of the live action Dolphins isn't planning on doing things that way for now.
Not only did Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt restate that Jay Fiedler would start at quarterback this Sunday, he digressed into this at the end of answering a question about the defense:
''As hard as our players are playing, as hard as our players are working and practicing, my commitment to them, my obligation to this football team, is do whatever we can do to reward that type of effort, to try win this game on Sunday,'' Wannstedt said. When asked bluntly when it's time to give untested players more time, Wannstedt said, ``As long as these guys keep working as hard as we're working, we have to give them the best opportunity to win today.''
Of course, the guys getting the playing time now are 0-6. Not only is that 5 ½ games back of a potential playoff spot, it's 37 percent of the way toward an offseason in which the Dolphins have to decide on certain players.
Making such analysis without having an adequate sample size is called ``guessing.''
There's Quarterback A.J. Feeley, for example, who has played 10 quarters this season. Linebacker Eddie Moore, the 2003 second-round pick, is essentially in his rookie season after missing all of 2003 with an injury. Rookie offensive lineman Vernon Carey has started two games while starting right tackle John St. Clair has been out with a sprained ankle.
There's also the issue of stalling development of what talent young players do have.
Feeley shrugged, ``It's [Wannstedt's] decision. That's just the way it is. What it is is what it is.''
But at this point in your career, how much good does being on the sidelines do?
''Anytime you're not playing, you can learn,'' Feeley said.
Moore is parked on the depth chart behind Morlon Greenwood and Junior Seau. Greenwood will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Seau is a future Hall of Famer who still brings a strong game, but he's 35.
''There's no use in trying to change up and make drastic changes right now,'' Moore said. ``The ball just isn't rolling for us right now. Eventually, it will be.
''Eventually, my time will come,'' he said.
Today's NFL trade deadline should bring minimal activity both with the Dolphins and around the NFL.
Dolphins general manager Rick Spielman said through a team spokesman, ``A trade at this point is not expected.''
Unlike Major League Baseball and the NHL, which have no salary caps and busy trade deadlines, the NFL's salary cap rules inhibit trades. Player for player trades are rare at any time and salary-cap considerations make player-for-draft-pick trades tough during the season.
• With the Thursday 1 p.m. blackout deadline coming, 2,000 tickets remain for Sunday's game.
Kickoff returner Wes Welker gave credit to special teams coach Keith Armstrong for Welker's alert play on a fourth-quarter kickoff Sunday.
Welker stepped out of bounds, then played the bouncing kick. The rule states the kick is out of bounds. The Dolphins got the ball at the 40-yard line. Welker hadn't been aware of the rule until Armstrong enlightened him.
''I give it to Keith,'' Welker said.
Herald sports writer Jason Cole contributed to this report.