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Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin talks roster moves, Patriots

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Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin met with the media yesterday to discuss the team, the recent roster moves, and the New England Patriots.

(Opening statement) - "We're excited about the season opener. I talked to the staff and the team that this is something that, if you're in the National Football League, everybody in this organization makes a lot of sacrifices to be a part of the team and to have an opportunity to kick off an NFL season, it's a special week. It's certainly even bigger that we're playing a conference game, a division game, at home. Looking forward to a great week of preparation as we look forward to playing the Patriots." 

(On if it's better to play the Patriots early in the season or later) - "I haven't really thought about that. The NFL dictates the schedule and we know we play them twice a year. Usually December 30th of the previous year, you know all 16 teams or games you're going to have the next year, you just don't know when they are. Then, at some point in April, the league puts the schedule out. We're looking forward to the season opener against the Patriots. I don't think, as you mentioned, I don't know that it really matters when it is."

(On Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski announcing that he's playing on Sunday and if it changes any of the preparations) - "Well, we were fully prepared. We saw he's on the 53-man roster, so you have to be prepared for every combination. He's an excellent player. He's been a very very productive player throughout his career. We'll have a good plan in place, but he's certainly an important part of their offense, and a productive part of it. We'll be ready for him, for sure." 

(On if he feels that the run defense has improved from last year and if so why) - "Yeah, I thought definitely in the preseason it has been better. I thought our defense did a great job limiting explosive plays during the course of the preseason. I know it's the preseason, but it's still football and it still matters. You still go out there and play 60-65 plays on tape. I thought our guys have shown improvement in the run defense. Certainly, we'll be challenged this week. It's a good running game. They have good running backs and a good offensive line. We'll find out more, but I like the strides we've made."

(On what he learned from going 3-0 to start last season and if he can channel any of that for this season) - "We've talked to the guys throughout camp about getting off to a fast start as well, like we did a year ago. It's a little different, we were on the road and we made a big emphasis a year ago because we had two on the road to start. It really comes down to playing good, solid, fundamental football. That's really what we're after on Sunday. This is a team you can't make a lot of mistakes against the New England Patriots and expect to win. So in that regard, you're going to have be at the top of your game early in the season, in terms of execution. You can't have miscommunication, you can't have a lot of penalties, you can't have, ‘Oh, I thought it was this and I didn't hear the check.' We've got to be 11 guys on the same page every snap playing hard and playing good, solid football." 

(On if RB Knowshon Moreno would be the better fit to carry the load at the end of games) - "I think some of that, we have to get the feel for the game, too. I think it's hard to say, ‘Yeah, he's definitely the guy at the end of the game or conversely that Lamar (Miller) is definitely the guy.' Sometimes in games, each game has its own little character and story and you kind of have to get a feel for it. Maybe one guy has a particularly hot hand that day, so we'll kind of keep an open mind in that regard."

(On how hard some of the cut decisions were this past weekend) - "Yeah, sure. Some of those guys have been here as long as I've been here. You've been with them for a long time, you've been through some ups and downs together, so it's tough. But I can say that the guys were extremely professional and classy all the way through. They're a great group of guys. I think most players understand when they sit down with 89 other players that there are no lifetime guarantees of anything, but it's difficult nonetheless."

(On if he thinks WR Jarvis Landry will be the primary punt returner and who will return kicks) - "Well, he's certainly one of our options. He's gotten some reps, but we have to see. We're going to take it through the week in practice and determine who that will be for game time. We've had different guys working at kickoff return, you've seen throughout the course of the preseason. They'll do that as well this week and we'll decide game time who's going to (be there)."

(On if there is one player in particular who has caught his eye on kickoff returns, particularly WR Jarvis Landry, RB Damian Williams and RB Orleans Darkwa) - "I think they've all shown flashes. I don't think we've really settled on anybody yet."

(On what he wants the offensive personality to be this year) - "I want to be better on third down. I want convert the ball better. We want to score more points as an offense, as a football team, period. However we get there, I'm not going to sit here, one week it could be third-and-one, the best way to convert and move the sticks is to throw the football. By the same token, we may feel like we've got a great advantage if we line up with three tight ends in the game and pound the ball. I think we have to be smart about what we're doing. We spend a lot of time studying opponents. We spend a lot of time looking at ourselves. We were just in a short-yardage meeting earlier today. I don't think you have to be married to one particular thing, but we certainly want to be a football team that does a better job converting on third down. Ultimately, we want our identity (to be that) we score a lot of points on offense. That's what I really want to see happen."

(On his thoughts on QB Ryan Tannehill's performance in the preseason) - "I thought it was good. I thought he had good command of what we were doing. I like what he did so far and obviously he didn't have a big huge body of work, but I thought overall it was good."

(On what areas QB Ryan Tannehill needs to improve the most) - "Like I say all of the time, for a quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, it's really about decision making, accuracy and making plays. Those are kind of the wide ranging features that I think are the most important to the quarterback position. So there's obviously room for improvement in all three of those areas, but that's probably going to be the case every single year of his career. We're still looking for improvement in all of those areas."

(On if he would say the offensive line will be ready to face the Patriots on Sunday) - "Absolutely ready. Definitely will be ready."

(On if he's confident that the offensive line will be improved from last year) - "I'll be confident in those five guys. I'm not really into the comparison game. This is 2014, it's a brand new season, whether we were what we were a year ago is what we were a year ago. Now, we're in 2014, so we have to be a confident, aggressive unit when we take the field Sunday at one o'clock."

(On if Week 1 typically has a different feel to it) - "It's starting to feel like the regular season. It's getting close. As you mentioned, we had to release some players over the course of the weekend. This is my 12th year in the league, so I'm used to having coached guys, not always as the head coach obviously, but I'm used to meeting with guys that you have to release. It's starting to feel like it, yeah."

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