Shelley Smith was surprisingly moved to the teams center position at the start of training camp following Mike Pouncey’s injury. Thus far Smith has been rather unimpressive. So much so that after another day of fumbled exchanges between he and Ryan Tannehill, line coach John Benton opted to replace Smith.
It’s unclear if Nate Garner will start at center today for the team when they take the practice field as he did yesterday. In his career, Garner has played center, guard, and tackle but he has done well at the center position when called upon. If the move of Smith to guard stays we should expect un-drafted rookie Tyler Larsen to begin seeing some extra rep work in practices. Back-up center Sam Brenner went down with a lower leg injury on Sunday.
The Miami Dolphins have been unable to fit the right combinations on their line for quite some time. During the Tony Sparano era, routine tinkering on the line throughout camp left the team with little cohesiveness heading into the season. Joe Philbin’s arrival was supposed to quell that but with his arrival so did the tinkering continue.
To be fair, Philbin looked to have righted the line ship last season before Jonathan Martin went AWOL but the Dolphins still hadn’t fixed the right side of the line with Tyson Clabo and John Jerry struggling early last season. Another product of training camp issues?
This year the Dolphins are a little more stable with the additions of Ja’Wuan James at right tackle and Branden Albert at left and it appears that Daryn College has the left guard spot locked down. The center position and the right guard position are question marks.
The center spot is due to injury and lack of experience but we also saw the Dolphins change up the guard position on the right side as well, moving Dallas Thomas back and Billy Turner up to the first unit. That change however is expected to rotate through training camp to give each player an opportunity to play with the first team and get more practice reps.
For now the largest concern is at center but it may clear up if Nate Garner can get consistent with his play but Tyler Larsen could really be the key to the success of this unit.