As promised yesterday, here is a look at the defensive side of the ball for the Miami Dolphins as they head into training camp in less than 12 hours.
For the first time in almost 12 years, it’s the offense that seems settled in to carrying the team while the defense tries to positively answer the questions surrounding it.
From a young mix of LB’s to a unproven safeties and a switch for Randy Starks, the Dolphins will enter the 2010 season with more questions than answers on a unit that saw the Phins add the top LB in free agency, Karlos Dansby.
Here is a look at the defense.
Jared Odrick – The newly signed first rounder will compete against 3 other new comers for the starting job. A 4-3 converted DT, Odrick will be asked to get to the QB.
Tony McDaniel – McDaniel faced some off-field issues earlier this year but has since remained quiet. He will need to have a great training camp to fend off fierce competition on a front line that has added through both the draft and the FA market
Montavious Stanley, Marques Douglas, Phillip Merling, and Charles Grant – Phillip Merling is heading to IR and the Dolphins brought in the other 3 to take his place. Meaning that two of them could be out of a job. Of the 3, Douglas and Grant have the best chance of sticking.
Kendall Langford – Langford is getting better and this year should see the 3 year veteran become closer to elite. He needs to get up field more but has the talent and drive to get the job done. If he continues to improve he could be dangerous from the end spot.
Travis Ivey, Alama-Francis, Ryan Baker – All three are battling up hill for a roster spot and none are expected to land on the practice squad. Of the 3 Ryan Baker would be the one player likely to have a chance.
Paul Soliai – The only remaining draft pick from Cam Cameron still has a life on the Dolphins line as the only true NT back-up to Randy Starks.
Randy Starks – The move from DE/DT to NT will be under much scrutiny this training camp. Starks fits the size of Jason Ferguson who retired two weeks ago. In Tennessee he filled in on the line for then Pro-Bowler Albert Haynesworth.
Lionel Dotson - The Dolphins keep waiting to see what he will develop into. His time could be running out.
Channing Crowder – Crowder is going to feel pressure this year coming from newly aquired LB Tim Dobbins. Pressure will be taken off Crowder to be “the” man, with the signing of Karlos Dansby. How he progresses will go a long way in determining his long term future with the team. Crowder has a history of nagging minor injuries that seem to allow him to miss time.
Tim Dobbins – I predict that by week 4, Dobbins will be the starting inside backer next to Karlos Dansby. A little rough on the edges, the special teams ace had as many tackles last season as Crowder but did so as a back-up.
Karlos Dansby – The Dolphins big free agent aqcuisition will step into the leadership roll of the Phins defense. A hard tackling machine, Dansby will try and elevate a young defense.
Charlie Anderson – The OLB is penciled in as the starter but training camp will be his proving ground. He will have to hold off some tough competition on the outside from rookie Koa Misi and 2nd year NFL pro Cameron Wake.
Cameron Wake – The Dolphins need Wake to become the defender that he was in the Canadian Football League. DC Mike Nolan will likely take the ropes off and let him run wild at the QB. Many feel that he should contribute at minimum 12 sacks on the season. He needs to improve his pass coverage.
AJ Edds, Austin Spitler, Chris McCoy – Of the three rookies, Edds is almost a lock to make the 53 man roster. He will need to show that pass coverage skill that he had in college but if he does, he should be able to come in and see significant playing time in his rookie year. The Dolphins were horrible covering TE’s last season. Both Spitler and McCoy could either contribute on Special Teams or will be candidates for the practice squad.
Koa Misi – The newly signed OLB will need to improve on his pass rushing skills, something that he was not known for in college. The Dolphins desperately need pressure from his side of the field and if can’t grasp the speed of the NFL early, he will likely be learning behind one of the veterans.
Quentin Moses, Erik Walden, and JD Folsom – Moses is on borrowed time if he doesn’t step up to the next level. Far to inconsistent, he won’t be given a roster spot simply for what he could develop into. Walden and Folsom will be on the bubble from day 1.
Jason Allen – The former 1st round pick has found a spot on the special teams. The problem is that that Dolphins have a few potential stars on the unit and that could spell the end of the 16th overall selection by Nick Saban.
Will Allen – Healthy and ready to compete, Allen will have to fend off Sean Smith and Vontae Davis. It’s likely that he could be used as the Nickelback or moved to Safety.
Vontae Davis and Sean Smith – The two 2nd year corners are ready to break out and show that they are not simply above average but great. The duo hope to be the shutdown corners that will remind fans of the days of Troy Vincent and Sam Madison.
Nolan Carrol – Carrol will likely be the roster spot replacement for Jason Allen, the youngster will likely make the team but as some rookies do, will struggle early. Still, he has a lot more upside than Allen has remaining.
Evan Oglesby and AJ Wallace – The two corners will have to excel on special teams if they want to make a deep corner roster.
Yeremiah Bell – The Pro-Bowl safety is back for another year with high self expectations. Bell will need the support from the other safety to avoid the horrible YPC average that was given up last year by the deep secondary.
Tyrone Culver and Chris Clemons – The two free safeties will compete for the starting spot to replace Gibril Wilson who had a horrible season last year. The Dolphins are the weakest at this position with none of the possible suitors proven. This training camp battle is the best one to watch.
Nate Ness and Jonathan Amaya – Both safeties will be fighting for a roster spot and both could be looking elsewhere.
Reshad Jones – Jones will get a good look during camp and a solid pre-season could move him into the competition with Culver and Clemons. He has a ways to go for now, but money says he is a lock to make the team.