Each year, it seems as if the Miami Dolphins' offensive line has some sort of weak spot. This year is no different as the biggest questions are both at left and right guard. While many, including the Dolphins' coaching staff, are penciling in Billy Turner as the starting right guard, it is no guarantee that he passes the test when the games begin in pre-season and then in the regular season. When you look a bit to your left, you'll find Dallas Thomas, who has struggled mightily over the past several seasons. Thus, there is some cause for concern heading into training camp, which will begin on July 28.
However, quarterback Ryan Tannehill says that there is plenty of time and right now, the coaching staff is just trying to give different guys a chance so they can get a better idea of how their development is coming along.
“They are giving a bunch of different guys looks and trying to find the right guys to play for us in those spots. Those are two huge spots for us come the fall and game time, so whoever steps up and winds up winning those jobs is going to be huge. Whoever doesn’t win those jobs, they are getting a lot valuable reps right now so that is all going to pay off," he said. “I think they all do great things. Obviously everyone is learning and getting better so I see some great things and I see some things we all need to improve on so it is tough to say at this point.”
Tannehill noted that when he's in the game, he doesn't see a difference in play depending on who is playing on the offensive line during practice. However, of course, when he looks back at the tape, he can see different guys doing different things. He said he doesn't notice it because he's busy looking downfield, seeing his reads and making the play.
Head Coach Joe Philbin said that the movement of Mike Pouncey back to the center position will help solidify a lot of things and he'll help the other guys next to him come along and develop to where they need to be.
“He’s a very good athlete. And he’s got good energy and game speed. So one of the things I think he does is – you guys watching practice just like I do – I think you can feel his energy, his quickness, his tempo on the football field. He’s got some juice for the game. That’s one of the things we’re looking for him to bring to the offensive line in general. And I think as the center now, he’s going to directing a lot more traffic than he did a year ago. He’s done it before and he’s done a good job of it. So I’m confident he’s going to play well.”
When Pouncey was asked by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald for his opinion on the young guards, he made sure to show respect to the guys they already have in the building.
“[Dallas] came in this year with a whole different mindset. He's playing great football. He's gaining all my trust right now with the way he's practicing on the field and being attentive inside meetings. [Jamil] doesn't look like a rookie. He's playing at a really high level. We won't really know what he can do until he puts the pads on but he's impressed a lot of the coaches. He's got the eye of a lot of veteran guys in the offensive line room."
Even though Pouncey has confidence in the offensive line and the guys they already have in the building, he admitted it would be great if the team were able to sign Evan Mathis.
“Evan is a really good football player; had an opportunity to meet him at Pro Bowl. It would be great if he signed here but if not, we got to roll with the punches with the guy we've got. The guys we have inside this building will do a great job for us.”
We'll see what happens but something tells me that the Dolphins aren't done just yet re-building their offensive line.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs