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A look at the Dolphins cornerback position

The Dolphins are an intriguing team right now because they promise so many fascinating story lines based on the coming competition in training camp.

One position that is of particular interest to me is the cornerback spot. The group is bursting at the seams with competition. Outside of Will Allen, who pretty much has a lock on his starting spot, everything else is up for grabs.

A starting job in the base defense is up for grabs. A starting job in the nickel package is up for grabs. And two or three roster spots are up for grabs. It's a big grab bag, everybody!

Let's start with Miami's philosophy on cornerbacks so you can carry this into the future as the team makes roster decisions, draft decisions and decisions on free agents:

“I think a big part of our philosophy, when I say our philosophy, me, Bill [Parcells] and Jeff [Ireland], has always been to have big corners," coach Tony Sparano said. "It really has. So we like big corners. In fact, we’ll take smaller corners in some situations off the [draft] board. And they might just be good players for other people just maybe not for us. So we kind of really wanted to have big corners. It’s something that we believe in."

Why?

"They’re a little bit more physical and you can do maybe a few more things with them in some situations but I would also say yes. To answer your question. Randy Moss, now Terrell Owens. Those type of people in this division. Just knowing Terrell, just being with him and how he approaches some of the smaller corners, there’s certainly a history versus Randy, in those type of situations you better have some big, strong people that can compete against these guys because they’re big, strong, physical receivers that can’t take over a game and I think that you need to be prepared when you’re playing against them and of course for us, our division is first and foremost.”

OK, so that's one reason the Dolphins loved Vontae Davis (5-11 and 203 pounds) and Sean Smith (6-3 and 214) in the draft. That is also a reason Jason Allen (6-1, 200) has lasted as long as he has.

That settled, look at Miami's cornerback situation. Eric Green was basically handed the starting job at the start of this offseason and it was up to him not to give it up. All he had to do was improve at the same rate and pace as what rookies Davis or Smith did and the job was his because of his built-in experience.

He couldn't do it.

On Tuesday, after an excellent practice Monday, Smith passed Green. The Dolphins bounced Green to second-team and promoted Smith to first team. Now the competition for the starting job is officially on.

Smith had flashed while competing against second-team players so the Dolphins wanted to see what he might do against better players, against starting-caliber receivers. There is no doubt Smith may have some difficult moments against the varsity. But he will be evaluated on whether he seems over his head, whether he continues to improve with each practice repetition, and whether he can be around the ball as often against starters as he was against reserves.

Smith's improvement has been eye-popping for its speed. The first OTA session open to the media I noticed fellow rookie Patrick Turner was pretty much dominating Smith. Turner caught passes in front of and behind Smith. And even in tight coverage, Turner was catching the ball over Smith.

The OTA session open to the media last week told a different tale. Smith was all over Turner. Smith seemed to have jumped up a couple of notches and was now getting the better of the matchup.

So what does that mean?

It means Smith has flashed enough to suggest he can compete for the starting job. It means he is not only freakishly big for a corner, but is apparently a quick learner and is improving with the work. It means he's absorbing the coaching pretty well.

He hasn't won the competition by any means. In fact, he can just as easily fall back to second-team behind Green or Davis. But he's in the mix.

“He’s been getting better and better each practice and getting his hands on more footballs," Sparano said. "He is playing a little more confident. He had a real good practice yesterday. So as he starts to progress a little bit we just want to see him versus better people.  So everybody is kind of going to get an opportunity a little bit here to get some reps with that group and it was his day today.” 

Green can still recover. He is the safe fallback position. He is more experienced. You know what you're going to get with him when the pads go on. He is insurance.

The obvious question that remains is where that leaves Davis? Davis was, after all, the first-round selection. He is the guy who came to the Dolphins with a better draft grade and higher expectations. Well, he's fallen slightly behind the other two.

But that is not a permanent situation.

Davis can still make this a three-man race to the starting job. He will get some time with the starting unit to see if he plays up to the competition. I do not know why exactly he hasn't improved as rapidly as Smith to this point. I don't even know that Davis has done anything wrong. I do know Smith is just doing a lot of things right of late.

The Dolphins have 15 defensive backs in camp right now. Nine of those defensive backs are cornerbacks -- Green, Joey Thomas, Davis, Will Allen, Jason Allen, Will Billingsley, Smith, Nathan Jones and Scorpio Babers.

The Dolphins will keep between six and eight out of this group, depending on what happens at safety.

With Davis, Will Allen, and Smith pretty much on the team, that leaves maybe four roster spots open. No, I'm not giving Green a certain roster spot. He's likely to make the team. It would be a huge upset if he doesn't. But what if he's terrible in the preseason? He's got to earn his way on rather than be annointed.

That means there are six players vying for three or four spots. The breakdown of the five not yet mentioned:

Nathan Jones finished last season in the dime package and is running with the first team there. He's in a good spot to stick.

Jason Allen is running with the third team now but he's been a productive special teams player and he still represents a sizeable gash to the salary cap if he's cut. It'll be a tough call.

Babers is running with the third team also so he's a longshot. Thomas, frankly, shows as a special teams guy but has not really stood out in the practices I've watched, which admittedly are a small sample size of what is truly going on.

Billingsley has shown raw ability but is currently in a numbers crunch. He also is a longshot.

Discuss...

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Any one know how jason taylors doing in O. T. A ?

Dining tips from 3rd world refugees? Why don't you stick to what you know. 1000 ways to eat berries and roots.

What's next, understanding medieval art? You wouldn't know what fork to use in a 5 star resturant. But then again, they wouldn't let you in, would they?

It would be great if Smith works out as a starting cornerback. Half of Moss big plays and a lot of Owen's big plays come from just going up higher than a smaller db.

Who was that little white special teams player that was filling in at safety during the 1-15 season when everyone was injured? I can still picture Moss beating him for TD after TD mostly because of his size. Brady would throw into triple coverage knowing that the DBs couldn't jump with Moss.

" Let me in hal"

What do you know bout food h.a.l ? your a broken down computer are'nt you?

Gentlemen,

I do not appreciate your descriptions of my eating habits. It takes a real man to be able to eat a 97 oz steak, not to mention be able to dispose of it the next day. Have you ever seen an A@ss sing.

As for Mando, listen to what he has to say and don't piss him off!!! He has inside information directly from me. Very temperamental young fellow.

Mando,

tell our eager bloggers how I schooled you in the basic fundamentals of footbal at a very young age.

Parcells

Really feel for Jason Allen. He hasn't made the impact expected of him and the fins could have drafted Cromartie instead.

Bill , Is it true there renaming the 96 oz porter house at shulas to " BIG BILLYS COLON BUSTER" and also is it true you and andy reid devoured an entire side of beef when he was down?

i wonder if there's any left over when tuna dine out, HAL 900 can wait out side for that. rex ryan can come to

does jason likes beef or he likes ham

did any one heart about the desire of mexico to get into the NFL with 2 teams from mexico to introduce the sport in their country.

Cuban Menace,

pleasure to chat with you. You are on of the few guys inhere that understands me. Except for Mando, but he doesn't count.

Yes, it is true. Actually, we were politely asked to leave Shula's (I believe Don is still jealous of my achievements). When we got to Andy Reid's house, we devoured his wife. But that's another story for another time.

I love steaks. See, cows are timid and weak. There is no room in this world for the timid and the weak, except on my diner plate.

Parcels

They Can call themselves "the burritos"

They Can call themselves "the burritos"

Gopats,

Mexicans playing football. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Those little fellows would be completely lost when they realize the ball isn't even round.

They would probably be even more confused with our sport, wondering why the hell we call it a "football" in the first place when you're not even allowed to kick the dam thing except on special occasions.

Speaking of which, reminds me of a funny joke. When does a Mexican know its time to eat again? When his ars stops burning. Get it, spicey food.

Parcels

Very well put bill, and may i wish you a great upcoming year sir.

Last year, I thought Merling looked great and the only reason Lankford started and he didn't was because of the excellent play of Holliday. If Davis is on the strong side, the problem may not be him at all, it may be that a guy named Allen plays there. The plan might have been to let Merling develop for a year before dumping Holliday and this year's plan might be to give Davis a year behind Allen. Also Davis is young and has had personality issues. The Trifecta might be trying to keep him in his place; real world style.

Q Why don't mexicans grill ?

A Because the beans fall through the grill

Why thank you, Cuban.

If only that pencil neck, Ireland, would stop taking credit for all my draft picks. I'm the big tuna, not him. He's just the little helper. He looks like an accountant anyway.

Hmmm, I was thinking if Belichick, wait a minute, what kind of name is that anyway. Take away the Beli and you have "chick". The guys never had a woman in his life. very unusual.

Getting back to my thoughts, if Beli-NO-chick can cheat, why the hell can't I. -- I was thinking of giving my cornerbacks a whistle to carry with them during games. You know the kind the referees use. They will be instructed to blow them hard if the receiver gets past them. Imagine the havoc. Either that or reflector mirror for night games. Maybe a sniper or two. Ireland will probably take credit for all my ideas. Little weasel.

Parcels

40 ounce steak, no wonder they are so flatulent, wonder if they had beans with it too. I am sure a beer or 6 or maybe a bottle of wine. dark poop

Armando you fake! I challenge you to a cage fight!!!

the 2 mexican teams who will be joining the NFL will have the right to sign more than 80 percent of their teams from the USA but the QB must be mexican.

who's jose rose ? did he win any thing ?

Armando: This is not a very good question. We only know what the media tells us is happening in OTA. So I'll repeat what the media has said.

CBs
Will Allen
Eric Green
Vontae Davis
Sean Smith
5 others are viaing for 1 spot maybe.
Keep 5?

Safeties
Yeremiah Bell
Gibril Wilson
Chris Clemons
Culver Tyrone if a 5 is kept?

We really have to wait to the end of Pre Season to see how many and who.

What is worse than Mexicans playing football?

A bunch of Haitians playing football.

samdolphin, can you please tell me a funny story b/c i need to go to sleep

cuban, is shula's actually a real nice place? or run of the mill steakhouse? on a 1-10 please clue in a fan that lives 4 min from dons childhood town of grand river,oh. set on the great lake erie. seriuosly now i'm curiuos. thank you.

why every time i see the name jacksin, i feel i am reading a post from some one writing from jail ?

thats seriously &curious. ive had a few nips of the high end carlo rossi

mario, no jail, but it is jaksin. no c. whats with the whole king thing by the way? self branded, sweet!

i just heard in radio if you have any problems in the bed room, your wait is over,they ask you to order it and if it doesn't work in minutes you can returned without any questions asked.it comes only w/one warning ,some times your manhood gets harden for more than 5 hours and if this happen to you rush yourself to the emergency room

king jaksin sounds good for a king name, as you all that king do is eat, f..k and sleep

everybody having fun saying cuban menace is chad p imposter until rexryan and his new name hal come around with trashy racist filth.

mario, i do like the sound of this eat, f, and sleep routine you describe. how would one fall into such a rut with out a crown that is?

king carlito, you sound like you have trouble sleeping .if you need help in the bed , thing of jaksin .it may work

I have funny joke.

How you get rexryansux off your dorrstep at 3 a.m.?

Pay for the pizza.

or after tuna finishes his dinner, point to the leftover to reryansucks.

ha! i think i get it. think of jaksin, ha! that mario, i'll tell ya!

King Mario is a security guard with too much time on his cuban hands. Cannot post with his own name little chicken chit

Hey Carlito:

Aren't you supposed to be at work now? Now get back to the 7-11 you sand monkey.

jasksin you think Heyward-Bey is next Yatil Green? Hey-Bey already hurt.

Rexryanblows,

you so dumb you dont even have racial slur right. We don't have much sand or desert in Golfito. Nice try though, could be very offensive if used correctly.

Could you tell us about the first time you ate opossum and what is your favorite squirrel dish?

carlito, had not heard this yet, is he? if so what type of wound?

Hamstring. He's been sitting out ota for over one month.

rex, what the name of your boy friend ?

man, awfull early for that is there any history of that type of injury with him? thanks for the scoop.

I TOLD YOU BOYZZZZ IT'S ABOUT THE EMOTION IN FOOTBALL. COMPETITION BRING THE BEST OUT OF A TEAM. ESPECIALLY IF THE VETERANS CONTROL THE LOCKER ROOM. (13-3 2009 RECORD) T.O. AND MOSS IS A NON FACTOR FACING THE DOLPHINS. QB'S WILL RUSH TO GET THE BALL OUT OF THEIR HANDS(PORTER AND TAYLOR HEALTHY), AND WHILE THEY ARE DOING THAT... YOU HAVE BIG,NASTY, STRONG, SPEEDY CB'S JAMING THE CRAP OUT OF THEM ON THE LINE. GREEN COVERS WELL SO ALL IN ALL WE ARE STR888888!!!!

"The Dolphins wanted to see what he might do against better players, against starting-caliber receivers." The Dolphins have starting-caliber receivers?

I predict who ever is playing the corners will get alot of picks this year because opposing quarterbacks will be running for their lives. with furguson eating up blockers. porter, taylor, roth, merling,wake, forget about it, somebody's getting to the QB.
What about the safties position, how's that competition going?

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