MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -New Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland took a break from firing and hiring to look for players this week at practices for the Senior Bowl.
In the three weeks since Ireland became GM, the Dolphins have fired coach Cam Cameron and most of his staff, hired Tony Sparano as coach and started to assemble a staff of assistant coaches.
``Have I been able to breathe yet? Uh, a little bit,'' Ireland said Wednesday after watching a Senior Bowl workout. ``I'm just glad to be watching some football players. You know, when you hit the ground running like I did and you're dismissing a coaching staff and hiring a coaching staff and trying to build a philosophy in an organization, it's just good to be here watching some football players. It's what I know.''
As a national scout and then director of college and pro scouting for the Dallas Cowboys, Ireland made many trips to Mobile and to Indianapolis, site of next month's NFL Scouting Combine. With the Dolphins, Ireland said he'll still evaluate and interview players while having final say on personnel decisions.
Sparano didn't make the trip to Mobile, instead remaining in South Florida to focus on hiring a coaching staff. Ireland said he's comfortable with the way he'll divide responsibility with Sparano and Bill Parcells, who last month became executive vice president of football operations.
``The situation that we're in is that Bill does oversee everything,'' Ireland said. ``But yet I am the GM and we have a head coach, so there is going to be a triangle of communication involved here.
``I can't say that Bill will have the final say on everything, because we communicate so well. That's why Tony's in the position that he's in and that's why Bill brought me here - because we'll communicate and make decisions together.''
Owner Wayne Huizenga decided the changes were necessary after the Dolphins went 1-15 last season, the worst in franchise history.
One reward for the sorry season is the first overall pick in April's draft. Ireland declined to discuss specific players or positions of special interest to the Dolphins, but he said he and Parcells have talked by phone for about 30 minutes each day going over what they saw in Senior Bowl workouts. Parcells watched them on cable TV.
Ireland said he has been trying to strike a balance between his scouting and administrative duties.
``It's difficult balancing, but that's the great thing of having Bill around and Tony,'' Ireland said. ``We don't have to try to teach new people. We just kind of hit the ground and we know where we're going.''
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