Dolphins free safety Chris Clemons is a quiet man. He said he always has been generally shy by nature, especially when he's not on a football field.
As a result, Clemons doesn't say much when it comes to the task he faces, which includes proving capable of securing a starting job at a position seriously in need of someone willing to step up. Maybe talk is overrated.
On Tuesday, his boss seemed to say enough.
``I was just talking about it to the team [Tuesday] morning,'' coach Tony Sparano said. ``Chris has 256 scrimmage plays right now in practice. That's the most on the team by any player. Those are live scrimmage repetitions. And he has minimal, minimal mental mistakes.''
On any other day, that still would be a solid endorsement. On Tuesday, at least to an outside world wondering whether the team will pursue safety O.J. Atogwe if he didn't reach a long-term deal with the Rams by midnight, it might have meant even more.
Sparano never was asked Tuesday about Atogwe, a five-year pro who could be an appealing option if he became available as a sudden unrestricted free agent by Wednesday. That being said, it's not fair to suggest the coach's endorsement of Clemons has any bearing on Miami's potential interest in Atogwe.
It nonetheless sent an independently clear message: The Dolphins like what Clemons has been doing. Nobody seems hesitant about his ability to become a starter this year.
``He's got the potential, no doubt about it,'' said strong safety Yeremiah Bell, who starts on the opposite side. ``He has it in him. He's doing a great job right now. He's doing what he's supposed to do, and he's getting better every day.''
It seems safe to say Clemons (who started twice last year) has the advantage over Reshad Jones (an untested rookie) and Tyrone Culver (who has been practicing at strong safety), but that still hasn't halted wonder about potential interest in Atogwe.
Such speculation mostly has been just that to this point. Given the Dolphins' desire to sign Steelers safety Ryan Clark at the start of free agency, it suggested the team wasn't satisfied with its options, including Clemons.
However, as one team source said recently, Miami never has been a team to simply add any veteran for a minor upgrade. The Dolphins instead then viewed Clark as a major upgrade. Whether they feel the same about Atogwe would dictate their interest.
Is it possible Clemons' progress during the past several weeks has caused less urgency at the position -- and potentially less interest in Atogwe? That's an unknown that could reveal itself soon.
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