First a little background: You all saw the post on this blog about the midseason All-Rookie teams as personnel guru Gil Brandt sees them. You saw that Donald Thomas was on that team even though he played only one game this season because, as Brandt put it, Thomas has future Pro Bowl potential.
I should also share with you that loyal reader Chris Nelson also asked me recently to inquire about the right guard situation. I'm assuming he recognized the RG position is a problem because, well, it is.
And coach Tony Sparano pretty much confirmed that when asked if he's getting what he wants from the position.
“No, probably not quite to the level that I think I’d like to see it," Sparano said in getting his point across while trying to tread softly. "They are young guys that are playing at that position right now that are probably not playing fast enough for me right now. But they’re getting better. I’ve seen progress. I’ve seen improvement from both of them. We’re going to kind of mix that whole deal up a little bit, see how that goes.”
What is currently happening there is Ikechuku Ndukwe and Evan Mathis are sharing snaps at the position. Neither has been great. Fact is neither has been good enough. So this week the Dolphins are taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to the position.
The coaching staff is not leaving any stone unturned in order to upgrade the position. That is one reason the team signed Brandon Frye. The kid is primarily a tackle but he's going to get an opportunity over the next week or so to prove whether he can play guard. If he can do that, he'll get a chance to see if he can play well at RG.
The team is also looking into the possibility that backup center Andy Alleman can play at right guard. Of course, rookie Shawn Murphy is in the mix but I understand he's still not ready to make a push for playing time which is kind of disappointing.
The reason the Dolphins feel so uncertain at right guard is because they felt so secure with Thomas as their starter. Can you believe that? The rookie sixth-round selection had not only been good in training camp but had also popped out as a potential star.
His strength and explosion were extraordinary. The Dolphins believed they had a real gem on their hands. Obviously they hope he will recover from the foot injury that forced him to the injured reserve list.
“I think it would make a tremendous difference," Sparano said of having Thomas healthy. "In my mind, if Donald was healthy, I don’t think Donald would have been moved out of that position. I think he would’ve played that position. He would still be playing that position. We may have a few more questions right now on some of these younger players where all of a sudden we are seeing EK (Ndukwe) with a body of work. We just want to see it happen faster.
"We’re in the middle of something here and it’s got to happen faster and he’s doing a nice job to his credit. The same thing with Mathis. We’ve been able to see a couple young players there that probably we wouldn’t have seen if Donald was there. We had a pretty good young guard.”
And now they're searching for another one.