MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins did a good job addressing several of the team’s needs during the offseason.
Between free agency and the NFL Draft, the Dolphins added several players they hope will make immediate impacts across the board on defense.
One of the big questions on the team remains the offensive line, which on paper seems strong but could have some potentially large pitfalls.
The fate of the line seems to fall on the shoulders of oft-injured Mike Pouncey, who is one of the NFL’s absolute best at his position when healthy.
Pouncey was limited to just five games last season after suffering a pair of hip injuries and underwent stem cell treatment earlier this year.
He has not played a full 16-game schedule since 2012, his second year in the league.
The Dolphins plan on having Pouncey ready for the season and are taking it very slow with him throughout the offseason program in order to keep him healthy and fresh.
That being said, it would be very unwise to not have a backup plan at center.
There was talk of Miami pursuing free agent and seven-time Pro Bowler Nick Mangold, but those rumors were shot down last week by the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero.
That leaves interior linemen Anthony Steen, Kraig Urbik and free agent signee Ted Larsen to compete for the backup center spot.
All three will likely take reps throughout the offseason and training camp at center and both guard spots in order to give Miami flexibility on their line if (and when) injuries occur.
Along with those three, competition for the two guard spots will also feature incumbent Jermon Bushrod and fifth round draft pick Isaac Asiata.
The thought of Miami bringing in former University of Miami standout Orlando Franklin was floated around, but his agent Drew Rosenhaus all but put that idea to bed.
“I called the Dolphins and really pushed it, I think it would be a good fit,” Rosenhaus said on 560 WQAM’s The Joe Rose Show last week. “I can’t say it’s a likelihood and there are other teams that are more interested than the Dolphins right now.”
It appears that Miami is content with their current interior line prospects, at least for now.
On the outside, left tackle Branden Albert is gone – traded to Jacksonville.
That allows 2016 first round pick Laremy Tunsil to slide from guard to tackle, his natural position and where he is expected to play for a long, long time.
On the right side is JaWuan James, another former first round pick who is entering his fourth year in the league.
James had his ups-and-downs last season, taking his fair share of penalties and struggling at times with assignments, but he is expected to continue to grow and improve at his position.
It’s also worth noting that Miami signed former Dolphin Anthony Fasano, who graded out as the NFL’s top blocking tight end last season, in order to take some pressure off of the o-line.
With the Dolphins offense poised to take another big step forward in 2017, the offensive line is going to play a huge role.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill finally began to look like a franchise quarterback last season and it’s no coincidence that it was the first year he actually had decent protection from his line.
With weapons across the board to utilize, from Jay Ajayi in the backfield, Julius Thomas at tight end or the trio of strong receivers in Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills, Tannehill and the Dolphins could have one of the strongest offensive units in the NFL.
That’s if, and only if, the offensive line can hold up.
Miami kicks off their Organized Team Activities this week at the team’s practice facility in Davie.
It’s the first time that rookies and veterans will take the field together as teams are permitted 10 on-field practices.
Though no contact is allowed, players can do 7-on-7, 9-on-9 and 11-on-11 drills.
The Dolphins will be on the field beginning May 23rd, 24th and 25th.
Additional on-field OTAs will take place May 30th-June 1st and June 5th-8th.
All OTA workotus are voluntary.
Miami will also hold a mandatory minicamp from June 13th to June 15th.