White keeps Miami's opponents off-balance
MIAMI — Pat White is too taciturn to tell you how uniquely hard his job is.
The appearances made by the Dolphins rookie quarterback are so rare that they are more cameos than actual roles, follow no pattern and sometimes come in pass-fail situations. And always running a spread, as he did in college, or whatever mutation of the single-wing the Dolphins are using that week. Suddenly, White goes from the sideline to one fumbled snap from goathood.
"It is tough because he has to be ready at all times," Dolphins starting quarterback Chad Henne said. "He has to come in cold; he has to make right decisions with the ball. He's handling the ball, either running or passing."
Plus, White has to prepare as a backup quarterback for the regular offense, as well as the package of plays uniquely designed for him.
"I'm always on the sideline ready," he said. "Anytime my number's called, to go in and do what I'm coached to do."
White's plays haven't exactly chomped yardage for the Dolphins. White, a second-round pick, is 0 for 3 passing and has 16 carries for 54 yards, 33 of which came on one weaving run through New England's secondary. Then again, he's a rookie quarterback sporadically running an unusual part of the offense.
It's something requiring adjustment from White and Henne, who have been starting quarterbacks for most of their time since leaving their preteens.
"I want to help the team out as much as possible," White said. "If this is what's going to help, I'm all for it, 100 percent."
Henne said when the quarterback swap happens, "It's pretty much on the fly. I get on the helmet headphone, 'Chad you're out, Pat is in,' or I see Pat running in and I come off. I still say there is an advantage to that, with me coming to the sideline, kind of conversing with our coaches; anticipating what we are going to call next and just seeing what we saw in the defense the last play."
In an overtime loss to Tennessee last week, White came into the game for four plays, three of which were forgettable: He kept the ball on two carries for 4 yards and handed off to Ricky Williams for 5 on a sweep. Then came a two-point conversion try with 1:34 left in the game, and the Dolphins having just scored to cut their deficit to 24-22. White trotted out to replace Henne. Williams came in motion to the right, took the handoff from White, swept right and barreled into the end zone.
"We had two two-point plays in that week, and I think prior to that, we were going to run the other play without Pat in there, with me in there," Henne said. "Last second, they went with Pat and ran that play. It's spur of the moment, I'm off. We executed the play well and gave us a chance to turn it into overtime."
When told Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said they figured they would need some of White against Tennessee's defense, White shrugged, "Just to keep the defense off balance. They've got to worry about an extra ball carrier."
HENNING IS A FAN
Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning sounds like a big White fan.
"There's more out there with Pat White," Henning said. "He has quickness, he has the ability to run, he has the ability to pass.
"He's a lot stronger for his stature than people would think. I see him making progress. The opportunity is going to knock for him. If not here, then a few years down the road, somewhere else. I just believe he's going to make that kind of progress and be a player in this league."
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