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Miami Dolphins' Randy Starks downplays his 'bird flip'

Veteran defensive tackle Randy Starks believes the Miami Dolphins' coaching staff sent a message by taking away his starting job after he skipped voluntary offseason practices.

After sacking Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden during Sunday's 23-10 win, Starks sent a rejoinder of his own. Cameras caught Starks extending a middle finger in the direction of the Dolphins' sideline.

"It was probably at me directly," coach Joe Philbin quipped, via ESPN.com. "It's important for all our players to act the right way on and off the field. ... I am aware of it, and it's important that we do that."

Starks, who pushed for a contract extension after being hit with the franchise tag, also made light of the gesture Monday. Insisting that he's not upset about contract negotiations or losing his starting job to Jared Odrick, Starks said he flipped the bird as part of an inside joke with teammates.

We don't buy that explanation for a second. Players take motivation where they can find it, and Starks clearly is peeved at the benching after starting 63 of the previous 64 games.

As long as both sides are willing to sweep it under the rug -- as Philbin and Mike Wallace did with the wide receiver's post-game gripes -- brandishing "the bird" should be a non-issue going forward.

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