Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Despite being an offensive line expert, the Fins have had problems on the interior of the offensive line ever since head coach Tony Sparano came to Miami.
This season, the Fins will again be set at tackle with Jake Long and Vernon Carey. Long should return from an injury by the time the first regular-season game starts in September.
On the inside, two players are set to be starters: Richie Incognito and rookie Mike Pouncey. Head coach Tony Sparano plans to play Pouncey at center, which would leave Incognito at one guard position. Pouncey is only a rookie, but has been making a good impression on the coaches.
“There are so many natural things that he did today (Sunday) in practice that made him stand out,” Sparano said. “Some things that he did in the run game. Some things that he did in the protection drills, one-on-one, those type of things. Did a super job I thought handling all that.”
Pouncey has a lot to live up to considering his brother Maurkice started at center immediately for the Pittsburgh Steelers and was key to their run to the Super Bowl last season. Mike doesn’t have the team Maurkice did, but Sparano is confident in his ability.
The guard position opposite Incognito is still in flux. John Jerry is a former third-round pick who came in with high expectations. But Jerry isn’t running with the first-team after the first weekend of practice. That doesn’t mean he’s not improving from Sparano’s point of view.
“There are some things that I expect from John right now and John knows what they are,” Sparano said. “But I think it is fair that you have competition there. Ray Feinga ended the season piquing our curiosity a little bit. We will see what we do there.”
The Fins could also use free agent Shaun O’Hara along the offensive line, if he chooses to sign with the Dolphins after his weekend visit.