When Joey Porter hit the field yesterday in Davie to open training camp, a giant roar came from 3,152 fans in attendance -- so many, they'd filled the bleachers and spilled over onto an adjacent parking garage and back onto the road. Porter started to respond, then realized what was going on.
He was standing next to Jason Taylor.
"I made the mistake of walking out here at the same time as him," Porter said. "It was crazy. For a small time, I thought it was all for me."
He shouldn't feel bad. The crowd, probably the largest in a decade, also cheered a blocking sled drill and a ball boy leaning over a railing.
One thing's clear: Miami fans haven't forgotten last year's magical turnaround, even if, as Channing Crowder said, Tony Sparano has: "Nothing [has changed]. He doesn't give a damn what happened last year. I think he forgot."
Speaking of last year, fans saw only one Wildcat formation tacked on at the end as a little parting gift -- but there was a larger story forming in starting LB Matt Roth's inner thighs.
Roth was present at camp, but failed his conditioning test and was put on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list.
"He was a little bit under the weather," said Sparano at the time. "I don't know how long this thing is going to last one way or the other so we will see when we can get him out."
It sounded like illness. But late Sunday night, Roth's agent Drew Rosenhaus announced it was a strained groin. That's not good news, unless you're Jason Taylor; Roth already had his groin surgically repaired in 2008 after two previous injuries in as many years. This makes a very unlucky three, and one wonders what in the world is this man doing to his poor bathing suit area? Side job jockeying water buffalo? Bid for intercourse olympics gold? He never even made it to a drill.
Perhaps he was trying to ride Jason Taylor’s return to glory, just like the fans, and fell off.
To its credit, Roth's groin did give the people a show in its absence. Because Roth couldn't make the field, Taylor worked out at strongside linebacker switching positions with Porter.
Sparano shied away from discussing whether or not he'd start Porter and Taylor at once -- "We got about 43 practices to go to decide that" -- but he did seem grateful to the groin all the same.
"[Roth's groin] gives you the opportunity to get [Taylor] more reps out there," he said. "It was good to see him that way, and see him take on some runs and flash a few times with his hands at the point of attack."
If there's one thing you don't want at the point of attack, it's a groin that's physically unable to perform. Not in front of 3,152 people, anyway.