The Miami Dolphins are four days into practice and are still looking at the offensive line as a problem area. It was supposed to be solved. Branden Albert manning the left side and rookie Ja’Wuan James taking over the right. The wrench into that system came when Mike Pouncey was taken out of the lineup.
The Dolphins are platooning players once again along the line that will feature five new starters over last years squad. Starting at center is Shelley Smith who has never played a single snap at the position in his career. Not on the pro-level, not on the college level, not in high-school. Smith is now being coached on how to snap the ball and more importantly call out blocking assignments.
The Dolphins are starting last years draft pick Dallas Thomas at one of the guard positions while Daryn College starts at the other. Sam Brenner who came off the practice squad last season and helped rectify a baffling situation was designated the back-up center heading into camp, today he was carted off the field with what appears to be a foot injury according to multiple media reports.
The Dolphins are struggling on offense which should not be a huge surprise as they transition from the Mike Sherman stagnant offensive style to the more uptempo style of Bill Lazor’s Philadelphia Chip Kelly spread offense hybrid. Lazor is hoping to use running back Lamar Miller in the same role as LeSean McKoy but without a working offensive line that provides sufficient lanes and pass protection, the Dolphins offense could be stagnant.
The good news is that this is four days into camp and most teams that install new systems tend to struggle early on. The fact that Miami has new faces on the offensive line is not the issue, the issue comes down to coaching and personnel. The Dolphins have a new line coach this year as well. John Benton came to Miami this offseason from the Houston Texans and takes over for fired line coach Jim Turner.
Benton is supposed to be a very good coach and he will have his work cut out for him this training camp. In regards to personnel the Dolphins will need to get Smith up to speed quickly at playing center while getting what amounts to two rookies up to speed as well. Despite the fact that Dallas Thomas was drafted last season he didn’t see the field until late in the year and struggled. The Dolphins are relying on him to get acclimated quickly as a starter.
Training camp has a long way to go and the Dolphins are facing a five day in a row practice schedule that started this morning. With ‘tempo’ being the Bill Lazor cry at practices, the Dolphins will need to pull from deep inside to get the wheels working on the same axle. The team will have it’s first internal scrimmage this coming Saturday at Sun-Life Stadium.
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