DAVIE - The numbers are hard to ignore.
But the Dolphins felt the dramatic dip in production at tight end last season didn’t warrant attention this off-season.
The team didn’t add a tight end during free agency or the draft, deciding to stick with a group that had six fewer touchdowns and nearly 400 fewer yards than in 2008.
The only tight end at the team’s rookie mini-camp this weekend is Dan Beaudin of Montana.
On Saturday, Tony Sparano said the Dolphins have enough quality tight ends, the coaches just need to do a better job involving them this season.
“When you look at what they did, the usage maybe is something we can improve on, meaning how we can get them involved a little bit more,” Sparano said. “But I’m not disappointed at all with what they did.”
One reason is the roles of the tight ends changed from 2008 to 2009, said Sparano, who coached the position in Washington, Jacksonville and Dallas.
“The job descriptions are different,” he said. “When you look at the end of the year and see Anthony Fasano was asked to pass protect 139 reps last year and then you guys want to know why he’s not getting the ball.
“Well, he was asked to pass protect 139 times and that’s part of the game as well.”
No one asked Sparano how many times Fasano pass blocked in 2008, but it’s not like he never did it.
The difference in 2009 seemed to Chad Pennington’s use of the tight ends vs. Chad Henne’s, the struggles of Fasano and the loss of David Martin, who went on injured reserve with a knee injury the week before the season began.
With Pennington at quarterback in 2008, Fasano and David Martin combined for 65 catches, 904 yards and 10 touchdowns. Fasano and Joey Haynos combined for 50 catches, 501 yards and four touchdowns in 2009.
Fasano opened last season with two fumbles at Atlanta and finished with two TDs and 339 yards a season after he seven TDs and 454 receiving yards.
Hayno has 19 catches for 162 yards and two scores, compared with 31 receptions for 450 yards and three TDs by Martin in ‘08.
John Nalbone, a fifth-round pick in 2009 who spent the season on the practice squad, is the only tight end currently under contract in 2011.
Many wondered if the Dolphins would add another tight end during the draft. Miami had its chances as 21 tight ends were selected, including 15 on the final day when the team used its five picks on defenders, including three linebackers.