DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) — The biggest test yet for the Miami Dolphins’ revamped offensive line will come Saturday when the team scrimmages at its stadium.
One week into training camp, exchanges between the center and quarterback have been a persistent problem, and blocking is an even bigger worry. The Dolphins will have five new starters in the season opener, and two positions remain up for grabs.
Miami’s set at tackle with veteran newcomer Braden Albert on the left side and first-round draft pick Ja’Wuan James on the right. Daryn Colledge, a ninth-year veteran who signed in June, has plugged the hole at left guard. But the Dolphins have tried three centers with the first team and done even more shuffling at right guard, with spotty results.
Head coach Joe Philbin thought practice went pretty well Friday.
“I thought we got a lot accomplished really today in practice. You probably noticed we gave some guys, cut back some reps on a lot of different guys to both their benefit and the benefit of us really getting a chance to evaluate other players. I thought there were some good things. I thought we finished practice better than we have. One of the things we’ve been talking to the team about is doing a good job working through, training camp is long. Practices have a tendency (to be) two-and-a-half hours. You not only have to start fast, but you also have to finish. I thought today we did some good things in that area.”
Philbin also spoke about how important Saturday’s scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium will be in the evaluation of the offensive line.
“I think we do a good as job as we can here in practice, but everybody here wants to kind of creep in and creep in. Tomorrow, there are no coaches on the field. (The players) have to figure it out. They have to make the calls. There is no coach yelling a specific call or adjustment, so we’ll see how those guys sort things out for themselves. I think that’s important.”
Philbin said it’s important to create as much of a game-like situation as possible prior to flying to Atlanta to play the Falcons.
“We want to see how guys respond. We want to get our coaches in the press box and on the field similar to how they are going to be Friday. We want to see how our communication is, our headsets. We don’t have a lot of time for sideline adjustments tomorrow, but we want to get a look at that. We want to get the guys comfortable with how we are going to get out of the locker room and warm up for a game. There are a lot of things we want to cover, so when we go to Atlanta on Friday night, the rookies aren’t all nerved up. We also have some guys who haven’t been with us, so we also have to show them how we want to do things.”
Philbin also said he’s pleased with DT Randy Starks so far.
“I think I mentioned he’s definitely having the best training camp he’s had in three years that I’ve been here. He’s practicing better than he ever has. He’s still a difficult man to move off of the line of scrimmage. He’s very strong and he has good football instincts and I think he’s ratcheted up his pursuit to the ball a different level than what I’ve seen. So I’ve been very pleased. I think he’s had some production in the pass rush too. So he’s overall having a very good camp.”
“I feel good. Not having the old two-a-days helps. I mean I’m just trying to go out there and get better and make sure I stay in shape and learn the plays, and things new, and just try to stay sharp.”
Tackle Ja’Wuan James is looking sharp and can’t wait until the scrimmage.
“I’m excited. I’m super excited. Like I said, to play in that stadium and to just play in a game, with the tempo game-like environment.”
James said he’s ready to compete and adjusting to changes along the right side of the offensive line.
“We’ve been doing a pretty good job communicating. We’ve just got to continue to do that, build chemistry between those three guys rotating in. I feel like it’s beneficial because we’re trying to find the guys we need to play, that can play.”
Friday’s workout was their last before their annual scrimmage which takes place Saturday at Sun Life Stadium at 9:30 a.m.
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