The Miami Dolphins are hoping to find the right mix on their offensive line and as in years past, are rotating players to find that continuity.
It is no secret that the Dolphins are hoping that their offensive line will improve in 2017 and the one major key to that improvement is continuity. In 2016 the Dolphins felt they had all the right pieces in place. Jermon Bushrod won the right guard battle after Dallas Thomas, Jamil Douglas, and Billy Turner failed. They were released following the week four game.
With Bushrod and Ja’Wuan James on the right side and Laremy Tunsil and Branden Albert on the left, the only question was Mike Pouncey. Issues however arose when Pouncey couldn’t stay healthy and Branden Albert got hurt and missed time. Tunsil moved out to the left tackle spot and Miami rotated at guard and center until Albert was healthy but center was an issue throughout the year.
Heading into camp this year, Pouncey appears to be healthy but the Dolphins are not taking risks with him and keeping him out of team contact drills. Bushrod and James have the right side held down again so Miami is figuring out the center and left guard spots.
At center the Dolphins have had Jake Brendel and Anthony Steen start in place of Pouncey who is watching from the sideline. Steen, Ted Larsen, and Kraig Urbik are taking left guard reps with both the first and second units.
Miami held to their belief that one of those three would fix or at least plug the hole at left guard after Tunsil moved outside to replace the now retired Branden Albert who was traded to Jacksonville this past off-season.
One of those three will win the starting job and many believe it will be between Larsen and Urbik. While the Dolphins are using a platoon at the position now as well as at center in place of Pouncey, the unit should find more consistency once the team begins preparing for the pre-season games. It’s only a matter of who shows the most in the next week and then who can handle the left side once the contact become real.
Miami opens their pre-season against Atlanta a week from this weekend. It’s important to note that who is playing where is not important at this time. As the Dolphins work towards finding the right players to play alongside each other that will shake itself out.
When it comes to finding the right set of players to play the line it is important to realize that the best player might not make the best fit. How well that left guard plays next to Tunsil is important as well as who can play better between the center tackle gap on that side. Factor in the absence of Pouncey and you begin to see the bigger picture of what Miami is trying to accomplish. Which player can back-up Pouncey the best and who has the ability to call the line assignments while also seeing who plays better at guard next to that back-up makes this an interesting camp battle.
It will only get better as training camp continues. Once training camp breaks and the regular practices begin, along with a depth chart, we should have a better grasp on who to pay more attention to.