The Dolphins are continuing to use training camp to try lineman at different spots along the line. Here’s a look at what happened on the offensive line during the third and final week of training camp.
Dolphins’ offensive line coach Chris Foerster continued to experiment with the offensive line through the close of training camp and the second preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. Here are some highlights from the third and final week of training camp.
Heading into the second preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, a new starting lineup was revealed: left tackle (Branden Albert); left guard (Laremy Tunsil); center (Mike Pouncey); right guard (Jermon Bushrod); and right tackle (Ja’Wuan James). Still, experimentation continued as Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner substituted in at left guard and at right guard while the other offensive starters were still on the field. A couple of notes regarding the line’s overall performance and outlook.
First, the good stuff. It is promising that the starting lineup used against the Cowboys is the one that I and many other Dolphins fans are hoping the Dolphins quickly decide on for the regular season: Branden Albert, Laremy Tunsil, Mike Pouncey, Jermon Bushrod, and Ja’Wuan James. Fortunately, the performance of the line did not change dramatically when Tunsil and Bushrod were substituted for Thomas and Turner while the remaining offensive starters were still on the field. Overall, the line provided enough protection that the first team offense scored 14 points in 4 drives, and it could have been 21 points in 4 drives if Ryan Tannehill threw the ball less to the outside and/or Kenny Stills stayed in bounds all the way to the end zone. Moreover, the team let Tunsil play long after the other starters exited, allowing him more time to learn the left guard position.
Now, the bad news. Although Tannehill enjoyed some good time in passing situations, the Cowboys were still able to get pressure on him often enough, even sacking him once (past Bushrod). When running the ball, moreover, the line could not seem to provide enough room for any of the running backs to make decent gains. In fact, Tannehill himself was the best rusher for the first team offense. Some of the blame can certainly go to the backs, and it will be interesting to see what Isaiah Pead can do if inserted into the first team lineup. But the line has to do a better job no matter who is running behind them. Also, the injury bug struck, as center Mike Pouncey injured his left hip (the same one he injured in 2014) in Friday night’s preseason game at Dallas. Being conservative, head coach Adam Gase said the team is shutting Pouncey down for the remaining two preseason games with the hope that he will recover by the season opener. For the Miami Herald article on Pouncey’s injury and the team’s approach, click here. As a result of the injury, first year player Anthony Steen will assume the starting center position for the remainder of the preseason.
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This third preseason game should tell us a great deal. It should show us how Steen will perform if Pouncey does not come back quickly. It should show us who should be the team’s starting guards. And it should show us if Miami can begin to establish a running game that will be instrumental to the team’s overall success this season.