Written by Steven Wilson | Twitter: stevenjwilson11
It was weird seeing fourth-year pro Mike Pouncey playing guard last week in Chicago. But that’s the easy transition for a team that has historically been decimated interiorly on the offensive line. In Pouncey’s place was born-again Dolphin Samson Satele – an eighth-year vet who’s natural position is center.
That leaves rookie Billy Turner and free agent addition Shelley Smith on the outside looking in. Neither even dressed for last Sunday’s win in Chicago.
“Typically, if you’ve looked at the history since I’ve been here, we’ve been dressing seven linemen for games almost exclusively,” Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “There might have been one occasion where we had eight, one or two (games), based on some other guys [that] were injured. It’s really just simple that those were the seven guys that we had dressed the other day that we feel gave us the best chance to win the game. It’s really [nothing] more than that.”
In his fifth-season – first with Miami – Smith has appeared in just two games this year, but was a healthy scratch against the Bears. Turner – who was drafted just a couple weeks after Smith signed – is still waiting to see the field for the first time.
“Again, it’s not an indictment on those guys necessarily,” Philbin continued. “It’s just that’s the decision I came to as who would give us the best chance to win.”
Although both reserve guards have dealt with their fair share of injuries through the first six games, Philbin admits they have talent and that he’s not opposed to starting rookies.
“When I was the offensive line coach in ’06, I think we had 38 starts out of rookies when I was an offensive line coach, which I think is the highest, you can go back and check, but it’s about as high as there is,” stated Philbin. “I personally don’t have any hesitation. I’ve done it before. I would do it again.”
On May 12, 2014 the Miami Dolphins moved up in the third round to grab Turner, who became the highest selected North Dakota State player since 2002. At North Dakota State University, he started in 56 of the 58 games he played in his career. He was a two-time consensus All-American and was part of three straight NCAA Division 1 FCS National Championship teams. Although Turner was originally a tackle in college, the Dolphins moved him inside to play guard.
Despite Turner not being able to crack the starting lineup, Miami’s Head Coach is currently starting a rookie at right tackle. Ja’Wuan James – a first-year player from Tennessee – has started all six games protecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s throwing side.
“I’ve done it before,” concluded Philbin. “I’m 99-percent sure that 38 starts for rookies in an offensive line is awful high. I’ve done it and I have no opposition to it whatsoever.”
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