Reporting Tim Kephart
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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The offensive line, or lack thereof, has been one of the biggest problems for the Miami Dolphins over the last decade. Unfortunately for Fins fans, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the team in the offseason; the offensive line is again causing major issues for the Fins.
Starting right guard John Jerry is out with a knee injury and that’s forced the entire interior offensive line to move around trying to find the right fit. Starting center Mike Pouncey has played both center and at times right guard while left guard Richie Incognito has also been moved to the right side during camp.
Backup center Josh Samuda has also been inserted into the lineup during camp when Pouncey has been moved to guard, and Samuda has also been tested out at guard along with rookie tackle/guard Dallas Thomas.
The only positions that haven’t been moved along the offensive line are left tackle Jonathan Martin and right tackle Tyson Clabo. But with just a few weeks until the first preseason game, having an offensive line this in flux is not exactly what Dolphins fans want to hear.
When asked about how comfortable he is with Incognito or Pouncey changing positions, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said it wasn’t about a comfort level for him.
“It’s not how comfortable I’ll be. It will be how comfortable they will be in that situation, I guess,” Sherman said. “I think they are both very talented and flexible in that regard, if we have to go that way. If our guards don’t respond to their treatments, then we are going to have to make some adjustments.”
The Dolphins best guards are likely to be Incognito and Pouncey, but Pouncey is also the best center and can’t play both positions. If the Fins kept Incognito at left guard alongside Martin and flipped Pouncey to the right side alongside Clabo, then the Fins have a big problem in the middle of the line.
Plus, Pouncey is arguably one of the best centers in the league and makes most of the offensive line calls for the Fins. Moving him could also disrupt the timing between Pouncey and quarterback Ryan Tannehill as well.
But the Dolphins defense has been able to get right at Tannehill and stuff the offense with almost any blitz package it comes up with during practice. Granted it’s only a week in and the defense is typically ahead of the offense, but keeping Tannehill upright will be key to any offensive success this season.
“They (the defense) certainly present challenges for us as they will for our opponents, but at the same time us going against them every day in practice puts us in a position to be better schooled in attacking pressure,” Sherman said. “And really, those are the defining moments of the ball game, whether a team pressures a lot or not a lot. It’s in those situations we have to make great decisions and make big plays.”
The Fins could get a boost if Jerry’s injury heals quicker and the team can get free agent signing Lance Louis on the field. Louis has been rehabbing a knee injury he suffered during last season and has yet to make an appearance for the Fins in the training camp.
Until then, the Fins will continue to experiment with the line in hopes of finding the combination that can open holes for the running game, keep Tannehill upright, and at least slow down the defense’s blitzes.