Written by Matthew Cannata
When the news of Mike Pouncey being out several weeks broke last month, you had one side of people who said that his absence wouldn't be a huge issue and the other side saying that it would cause lots of problems for the offensive line. A few days into training camp, it's a problem and the coaches are concerned. After two more botched snaps from Shelley Smith in today's practice, the coaches spoke to the media and expressed their frustration.
“Obviously, I’m concerned,” offensive line coach John Benton said. “We’ve got to find a way to be good at that position. “It’s unclear [if Smith can play well in an NFL game] in the sense there’s a lot unclear until you get to that first game. We’ll know a lot after that first preseason game. I’m optimistic. To say confident is probably a little stretch.”
Benton, who has never worked with a team that had five new offensive line starters, said he wants a starting unit set in place before the third preseason game.
“We’ve got to get to the five, six, seven guys that are going to be involved on game days as quickly as we can,” he said. “I feel like we’ve got the talent. It’s how fast we come together. There really is something to the gel thing, communication, knowing what the other guy is going to do.”
Benton said that the Dolphins have no choice but to gel by the opener on September 7. One encouraging sign though was that he said he's been really impressed with Ja'Wuan James and his work ethic, attitude and how talented he is. Benton also mentioned that Billy Turner is very much in the race to be a starter on the line come the first week of the season and isn't concerned about having inexperienced lineman on the right side of the line.
“A veteran is going to have a couple tricks up his sleeve. The rookies might not. Daryn Colledge and Branden Albert have spent all their time and are most comfortable on the left. I’m not going to mess that up to try to help something else.”