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The Dolphins are going through morning practices, and just from reading some of the comments on Twitter from the various reporters that are there covering the practices, it seems that CJ Mosely is starting to round into shape and is giving the offensive guards problems, especially the rookie, Jamil Douglas.
It has been said before and it is being reinforced. The Dolphins defensive line has the potential to be an ELITE unit. Miami offensive line get's to work against this unit on a daily basis. And while they may look bad, very bad on some occasions, they will not face many units better. With that said, 2 of the very best defensive fronts are in the same division, at Buffalo and the New York Jets. Continued improvement and chemistry needs to be established, and possibly a decision will need to be made in regards to FA OG Evan Mathis and if the Dolphins will look to bring him in. He is supposedly ready to make a decision on a team in the near future.
The questions about the Linebacker group and depth are coming to the fore front right now. During the preseason game against the Bears, both Chris McClain and Jordan Tripp got hurt in the game, but while McCain has been able to practice, Tripp left the field with help and a boot on. UDFA Mike Hull and Zach Vigil looked good today from accounts that I have read, and Jeff Luc flashed a little as well. Those 3 UDFA along with fellow UDFA Neville Hewitt have a chance to make the team because of the concerns about depth. That, and you want to have linebackers on your special teams units as well.
These young kids will have the rest of the preseason to prove that they can play that game at this level, and having quality depth will be a big key for the Dolphins to develop.
Now, to the preseason game against the Bears, and the first thing I need to say is I did not get a chance to see the game, as the replay on the NFL Network came on 10:00 AM Friday morning. Like most of us, I was at work and did not set up to record the game. From what I was able to pick up from reading the various comments from both beat reporters and fans, the 1st units on both sides of the ball looked SHARP, the offensive line included. Offense scored a touchdown, although some have pointed out it came on a 4th down play at the 2 yard line, and in most cases the Dolphins would have probably kicked the field goal. This is probably true, but the fact of the matter is, they moved the ball down the field. They MUST do a better job of getting touchdowns instead of field goals though. After the first drive, the back up personnel came in and played the rest of the game, and from what I could tell, they needed the reps.
Same goes for the defensive unit, as they got a 3 and out. Suh showed what he means to the defense, as he drew double teams for the most part and allowed the rest of the DL and linebackers flow to the ball and make plays. Suh is that RARE DT that teams have to account for on EVERY PLAY. He is a force agains the run and pass. According to who you believe, the 2nd unit DL came in and played well also, as Terrence Fede, Jordan Phillips and CJ Mosely all played well. Some thought they did not play as well, so this is why I wish I would have seen the game to judge for myself. Most, if not all the media accounts of the 2nd unit DL was positive though. The negative comments came from a couple of posters on Phinfever.
Questions still need to be answered. And as far as I am concerned, the most important thing is to come out of preseason at healthy as possible and by all means avoid that devestating injury.
We are getting closer and closer to the opener in Washington. Can't Wait.
As the beginning of the NFL season inches closer and closer. we are now in Training Camp and in PADS. We now get the chance to take a look at the rookies and how they look as well as the new additions to the team this year.
It's also the time to establish who will be major contributors and who will not among the rookies, who will be starters and who will be part of the depth for the team among both rookies and the veterans on the team. Key battles are now coming to a head at cornerback, linebacker and most importantly to the Dolphins, offensive guard.
I am going to start off discussing Miami's biggest acquisition during Free Agency, Ndamankung Suh. We know what he is as a player, and he has not disappointed the first few days of camp. He has been IMPOSSIBLE to block, from his power to his quickness to his mind, he has been everything the Dolphins thought he would be. He has also done a great job of being a team leader and has taken 2nd round pick DT Jordan Phillips under his wing and is mentoring the young man. Right now, Phillips is running with the 2nd team defense and fellow DT Anthony Johnson. I expect eventually that C.J Mosely will be running with Phillips on the 2nd group of defensive tackles. The Dolphins are DEEP, Big, Young & Talented on the defensive line. You win games in the trenches, and this defensive line for the Dolphins can and SHOULD be a dominant unit in 2015.
With that said, we move to the other side of the ball and the offensive line, and the biggest area of concern, the offensive guards. Billy Turner had the difficult task of trying to deal with Suh, and he more than had his hands full. Dallas Thomas, Sam Brenner, Jeff Linkenbach, Billy Turner and rookie Jamil Douglas are battling for the offensive guards spots. And I have read that the rookie, Jamil Douglas has looked the best of the group. Many have not given Douglas much of a chance, perhaps because he was a 4th round pick out of Arizona State, and probably for some, because they did not know a lot about him. That said, he is a talented kid and can play, and is holding his own.
The Dolphins will need to determine how this group performs. If they feel they don't have the answer in this group, they will need to make a move via free agency and possible OG Evan Mathis, or look to make a trade. The Jets contacted Mathis recently, but backed off, as Mathis wants more money than they are willing to pay. The next few weeks should determine what directions the Dolphins go. I just read on Twitter from Omar Kelly that Joe Philbin stated that he was uncomfortable with the O-line pass protection during practice today. Not a surprise when you consider the caliber of the Dolphins D-line and the fact that the Dolphins are trying to determine WHO will be the starting offensive guards. There is NO CHEMISTRY with the OL, and there will not be until you have an established starting unit.
Just wanted to add this as well. OLT Brandon Albert made his first apperance of the year in pads. Good to have him back on the field, although I am sure it was just to get him use to being in pads and working on the knee to see how it feels, it a positive step.
Another key position battle is for the cornerback spot opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. The 2 key figures in this battle right now are Jamar Taylor and Brice McCain, signed from Pittsburgh during the off season. It was thought that McCain would be the slot CB, and he still probably will see some time in the slot. But he is be given an opportunity to man the CB spot opposite Grimes. The key to me in this is can Taylor stay healthy? If he can, he has the size, speed and tackling ability you want. He is solid in coverage as well. McCain is a good football player and will see the field.
The other key battle going into Training Camp is Linebackers. The one player you know will be on the field is Jelani Jenkins, who has established himself as a very solid, young linebacker for the Dolphins. The other player that is close to being a lock is Koa Misi, but the question with Misi is whether he will be the MLB or the OLB. Kelvin Sheppard has come in and performed well and is making a push for the starting MLB position. He is a player that has shown leadership skills and the players gravitate to him. The last player in this puzzle is UDFA from 2014, Chris McCain. McCain has worked both at DE and at OLB, and has shown he can be a playmaker. Has he learned the defense well enough and does he has the discipline needed. DC Kevin Croyle has simplified the defense, which should help all the players, and we will see how this helps Chris. The linebacker play HAS to improve for Miami.
In regards to the rookies, we know WR DeVante Parker will be out until close to the beginning of the season with the surgery on his foot. Would have loved to had him on the field now, but I want him healthy when the season starts. DT Jordan Phillips, CB's Bobby McCain & Tony Lippett & OG Jamil Douglas along with Jay Ajayi have chances to be contributors. I think S Cedric Thompson will be a contributor on special teams, as the Dolphins have solid, young depth at the safety position.
Once again, I expect all of the 2015 draft picks to be on the 53 man roster. I also expect to have some of the UDFA make the team as well. We are just getting started. Feels good to know Football is not far away.