NEW ORLEANS -- In a casual sitdown meeting with four reporters Monday afternoon, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross didn't reveal anything provocative about the on-field product.
But Ross did deliver an intriguing comment about Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne.
"You talk to people who really look at him, and he has a lot of great skills," Ross said at the Roosevelt Hotel, where the NFL is conducting its annual owners meeting. "Certainly, he has to continue to improve. He made some improvement in other areas. I think people are unhappy with some of the other [areas].
"But I think he has the skills. Unfortunately, the lockout like this doesn't help, working with him. But I'm very optimistic that he'll have the capabilities to really take us."
While that's not a proclamation Henne will remain Miami's starter, I found Ross' quote interesting because it wasn't slathered with caveats or asterisks about Henne being the quarterback for the moment and until they can make a trade or shake the free-agency tree.
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland has been overly cautious in not giving Henne the job, but Ross said he was "optimistic."
That said, Ross was non-committal a couple minutes later, when asked a follow-up question about Henne starting the season opener.
"We're going to have the best team that we can put on the field," Ross said. "I don't know what might happen. He'll be competing with somebody. You know that. So if he's the best guy that we can find to put in that position and he's demonstrated that, I have no problem with [Henne starting the opener]."
Of course, Ross' comments are a far cry from what he said last year about his fellow Michigan alum. Ross said of Henne: "I'm sure, and I'm hoping -- as everybody else is -- that he goes down as the greatest quarterback in Miami Dolphin history. And you know what that will mean."
Sure, that would mean he expected to Henne to either a) rewrite the history books better than Dan Marino, or b) win more than two Super Bowls like Bob Griese did.
Henne was benched twice last season, losing his job to Chad Pennington in Week 11 and then being removed from the regular-season finale after completing just six of his 16 attempts.
Henne finished the season with 61.4 completion percentage, 15 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.