DAVIE (CBSMiami) – There is a position battle happening on the Miami Dolphins that nobody would’ve expected when training camp began.
Caleb Sturgis entered the 2014 season as the Dolphins placekicker and few thought his job would be in question.
Teams will often bring in a second kicker during training camp to lighten the load for their main guy and in some cases, to add a little pressure and keep him focused.
Unfortunately for Sturgis, a groin injury that plagued him throughout last season and that dates all the way back to the 2013 preseason has once again reared its ugly head.
The injury popped up again at the beginning of this year’s camp and prompted the Dolphins to bring in another kicker while Sturgis rehabilitated.
Miami head coach Joe Philbin was hoping that after a couple weeks of rest Sturgis would be able to resume kicking and play in the Dolphins second preseason game against Tampa Bay last Saturday.
He had a successful practice during the team’s final workout before heading up to Tampa and all indications were that Sturgis would be able to kick in the game.
That changed during pregame warmups though as the 25-year-old re-aggravated his groin injury while kicking field goals.
That created an opening for the newly signed John Potter and he made the most of his opportunity.
Potter did all the placekicking for Miami during Saturday’s game and hit two long field goals of 48 and 51 yards, respectively. Both were new career highs for Potter who had brief stints with the Buffalo Bills, who drafted him in the seventh round of the 2012 draft, and the Washington Redskins.
With Sturgis still sidelined, Potter will get a good hard look from the Dolphins coaching staff. He’ll likely be making all the kicks again when Miami plays the all-important third preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.
“He came in and did a nice job when he worked out a couple of weeks ago,” Philbin said of Potter following Tuesday’s practice. “In the game, you have to be pleased with what he did. I think he made the most of his opportunity that night, for sure.”
As for whether he still considers Sturgis as the Dolphins number one kicker or if he’s considering Potter as a possible option for the season opener, Philbin had this to say.
“We’re open to anything. We haven’t named any kicker. I don’t know who’s going to be kicking for the New England game yet.”
The question now for Sturgis is whether he’ll be able to ‘kick’ this groin problem that hasn’t been solved since he first put on a Dolphins helmet.
After dealing with the issue during last preseason, Sturgis got healthy and began the year by making his first ten field goals as a pro.
The injury came back a few weeks into the season and caused Sturgis to miss key field goals in consecutive losses to the Ravens, Bills and Patriots. He did bounce back and finish the year strong, making 16 of his 19 kicks over the final eight games of the season.
Sturgis was taken by the Dolphins in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft and came into camp last year competing with Dan Carpenter for the lone kicker spot on the 53-man roster. Following a successful training camp and preseason, Sturgis was awarded the job and Carpenter was cut.
Now the former Florida Gator must rest and recover as best he can while watching Potter compete for his job.
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