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Ireland: Maligned QB Henne remains in Dolphins' 2011 plans

Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said Chad Henne remains in the team's plans as a potential starting quarterback, despite a disappointing 2010 season.

The Dolphins will be in the market to acquire a quarterback, Ireland said Tuesday, but he still likes Henne's potential.

"He has all the ability in the world," Ireland said while scouting draft prospects at Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala. "We've just got to put a plan together and an offensive philosophy that fits Chad Henne, and I think we'll do that."

Henne started 14 games last season for a Miami team that finished next to last in the AFC in scoring. He was benched twice, threw 19 interceptions and lost the support of leading receiver Brandon Marshall.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has pledged the offense will be more aggressive, creative and exciting in 2011. Ireland said such improvement can be achieved with Henne -- although alternatives will be considered.

"He has shown some aggressive tendencies," Ireland said. "He has shown some exciting throws. The quarterback position is obviously a very important position. We'll evaluate what's out there, like we do every position, in free agency and the draft."

Ireland didn't rule out re-signing quarterbacks Chad Pennington or Tyler Thigpen, who will be free agents this offseason. Pennington, who led Miami to the playoffs in 2008, faces arduous rehabilitation following a fourth operation on his throwing shoulder.

"He has to get healthy, and that's going to be awhile," Ireland said. "So we're not rushing into any decision."

Improving team speed will be a focus, including in the skill areas on offense, Ireland said. But he said there's a chance Miami will bring back Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams, both free-agent running backs.

Ireland also said the Dolphins will try to acquire a second-round pick in the April draft after trading that choice to the Denver Broncos last year for Marshall.

Senior Bowl on NFL Network:
On Saturday, Jan. 29, top senior college football players compete in front of NFL talent evaluators at the 2011 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Coverage begins on NFL Network at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Following a 7-9 season, Ross flirted with hiring Jim Harbaugh as coach. Instead, Tony Sparano will return, and Ireland signed a multiyear contract extension last week.

"It's obviously a vote of confidence from the owner, and that's ultimately the guy you've got to make happy," Ireland said. "We've got some unfinished business here. We really look forward to getting this thing turned in the right direction."

That includes overhauling the offensive coaching staff. According to the Miami Herald, the Dolphinshired former NFL wide receiver Ike Hilliard as an assistant and plan "considerable changes" to several coaches' assignments.

The Dolphins in the last week hired Brian Daboll to be offensive coordinator, brought in Jeff Nixon as running backs coach and Darren Krein as strength and conditioning coach, and promoted Dan Campbell to be tight ends coach.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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