Richie Incognito (Source: Yardbarker.com)

The Question At Guard


It’s June – the heart of the off-season lull.

The spring excitement of free agency and the draft is long gone, and we’re still more than a month away from the start of training camp.  The Miami Dolphins 2010 season is in utero, but as of now, I see just 3 offensive positions without starters already inked in – LG, RG, and No.2 WR.

It’s way too early to speculate who’s going to win each job, especially since the 53 man roster is far from complete.

So, let’s speculate!

Since two of the position battles are along the Dolphins pricey offensive line, let’s start there this week and put the discussion at WR on the backburner.

Right Guard Candidates:

Richie Incognito – 6’3 324 lbs.

Joe Berger – 6’5 315 lbs.

Donald Thomas – 6’4 310 lbs.

If big bad Richie can get his act together in Miami, unlike he was able to do in St. Louis, here’s hoping he’s the 2010 starter.   When he wasn’t jawing at coaches and committing personal fouls, he had been a solid starter for the Rams.  Obviously, Dolphin brass thinks he’s 1) grown up and 2) an upgrade over Donald Thomas.   Thomas didn’t have a bad 2009, but he didn’t have a great season either.   Sparano and Co. finally got a chance to see what Thomas could do after he spent 2008 on IR, and it seems like they weren’t entirely thrilled.

Joe Berger filled in nicely in 6 starts last season.  He’ll get a shot, but may be better suited as a utility lineman.  He’s already proven to be great security blanket.

Incognito’s the guy.  He adds a little more mass to the right side, and let’s not forget – was part of the St. Louis line that, in 2006,  produced a 1,500 yard season for Steven Jackson, and a 4,000 yard season for Marc Bulger.

If the job isn’t his in 2010 – something went wrong.

Left Guard Candidates:

Donald Thomas – 6’4 310 lbs.

Cory Proctor - 6’4 311 lbs.

John Jerry (R) – 6’5 328 lbs.

Thomas and newly acquired Proctor have roughly the same amount of starting experience.  Thomas was the Dolphins starter at RG most of last year, and Proctor made 11 starts for Dallas in 2008.  Physically, they’re clones – both standing at 6’4 and hovering around 310 lbs.  They also both have a history with the regime.  Proctor was originally scooped up by Parcells and Sparano after being discarded by the Lions when they were in Dallas, and Thomas was their potential “gem” of the 6th round of the 2008 draft.

Rookie John Jerry will get a crack at the job as well.  Realistically, he’s the dark-horse, but stranger things have happened (e.g. Donald Thomas getting the nod at RG in ’08).  Jerry is massive.  Crazy, massive. Wishful thinking is that he and Jake Long will form a solid left wall for years to come.  That remains to be seen, but the potential is surely there.

If Jerry ends up being the opening week starter, things will be good in Dolphinland.  He will have overachieved and beat out 2 capable veterans in the process.  Don’t count on it.  The edge has to go toward Thomas as long as he can move to the left side, with Proctor providing his main competition.   It will be interesting to see which one wins the battle, but whichever one happens to lose will provide comforting depth that the team has lacked for years.

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Tags: Donald Thomas Guard Joe Berger John Jerry LG Miami Dolphins RG Richie Incognito Tony Sparano

  • HvK

    What about Nate Garner? Wasn’t he projected to fight for that LG spot? I know he can play center, guard or tackle but he filled in for Smiley and Thomas for most of his snaps impressing the coaches last year. I like having him as a backup especially if he can learn RT to take some pressure off if Carey goes down. I see the starters as:

    Long
    Thomas
    Grove
    Incognito
    Carey

    Moving Proctor in at LG for a good amount of plays and Jerry in at specific times. Thomas also might take a few plays at RG while Jerry or Proctor is at LG. This could explain why the line has been moving around so much in practice. We need these guys to gel but all of them, not just the starting 5.

    • Chris Leeuw

      I expect Garner to be used more at tackle, but you’re right…he could very well fill in at guard. I don’t expect him to start there though.
      Garner may very well be the best utility lineman on the roster – and at 6’7 328…he’s the biggest dude in Davie.

  • dick

    Nate Garner?

  • Dolfankirb13

    My guess at the starting 5 for the OL are as follows….

    Long LT
    Jerry LG
    Grove C
    Incognito RG
    Carey RT

    Dolfankirb, wash St’s #1 FINFAN!!

    • Chris Leeuw

      I hope you’re right. Jerry will need to bust some heads in camp for that to happen, but imagine the depth!

  • V

    Proctor and Incognito will be the left and right guards respectively, grooming Jerry to be the left guard eventually.
    They wouldn’t have brought proctor if they didn’t think he could be the starter right away.
    And with the strong competition behind them, this would be a highly competitive camp.

  • Ray Finkle

    Incognito??? Terrible. Did you even watch him at the start of each play in Buffalo. He looked frightened to hear the QB yell hike. Top that with his ON the field issues. Something stinks gentlemen and I know it’s Richie Incogstinko.

    • Chris Leeuw

      A lot of fans in St. Louis agree you. Every blog and newspaper comment I saw rejoiced the fact he was gone. Not a great sign – but I’m thinking that was mostly due to a span of two short weeks when he was screaming at his HC and getting flagged left and right.

      He’s a mauler though if he gets his act together.

  • beowulf

    I believe that we must defer to Tony Sparano’s evaluation of Incognito. The man KNOWS line!

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