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The decisions made and choices looming at guard, receiver, safety

Barry Jackson making another cameo in Armando's blog with a couple of quick items and my latest Dolphins Sports Buzz post.

The common theme among safety, receiver and right guard this off-season has been this: In each case, the Dolphins opted to develop their own players instead of adding a sure-fire starter at any of the positions, even though a bunch were available this offseason. Yes, Miami added receiver Legedu Naanee and safety Tyrell Johnson, but both project as likely backups unless Johnson can win the safety job (which would be mildly surprising but not out of the question).

The decision appears final at safety, barring injuries or an intriguing acorn suddenly emerging (to use a Jeff Ireland-ism). With receiver, Ireland hasn't ruled out adding a veteran if he doesn't like what he sees from the unproven young players in the coming months. We address both of these positions in my current post on my Sports Buzz Blog.

With right guard, a final decision hasn't been made, but this much is clear: Veteran starter Jake Scott would love to play for the Dolphins. He visited here in April. The Dolphins haven't told him he's no longer being considered, but they haven't told him an offer is forthcoming, either. Ireland, when asked about Scott, wouldn't rule it out. But it's also clear Ireland and Joe Philbin prefer to give John Jerry every opportunity to win the job.

The Scott/Jerry decision isn't an easy one, but the Dolphins clearly prefer to give Jerry a chance - at least for the moment - before giving more thought to signing Scott, Kyle Kosier or any other veterans available.

Unlike Jerry, Scott has been an established, quality starter, starting every game the past six years. If you believe the numbers offered up by Pro Football Focus - which reviews every snap of every game - they would tell you that Scott graded out as the seventh best among 77 qualifying guards last season.

PFF rated him a smidgen above average as a run blocker and well above average as a pass blocker. He allowed two sacks and 11 quarterback pressures. But the Titans decided to replace him with an older Steve Hutchinson, who obviously has had a terrific career.

For perspective, Vernon Carey (who remains unsigned) was rated 44th among guards last season. PFF said Jerry played 180 snaps at guard - he also got work at tackle - and allowed one sack and three pressures. Scott graded out much better than Jerry as a pass-blocker, but Jerry graded out slightly better as a run-blocker, albeit in a small sample size.

Jerry, at 25, is six years younger than Scott - and that means something to the Dolphins.

"We're going to try to get Jerry established," Ireland said. "Jerry still has that developmental upside. He played well in some games."

Joe Philbin said earlier this offseason: "We've got to find a home for him. He's got to earn a spot."

Jerry now has a home and he is being given every chance to earn that spot, ahead of Nate Garner and whomever else the Dolphins might sign there. If he doesn't perform, the Dolphins will have another reason to rue taking him 73rd in the 2010 draft - 22 spots before New Orleans took Jimmy Graham.

Scott also visited Arizona but remains unsigned. He's not going to wait for any team if he gets an offer to his liking. The Dolphins must hope that Jerry either shows enough in OTAs the next few weeks or that Scott remains available for a while if Jerry doesn't.

Couple other notes:

### Joe Philbin told ESPN he would like to name a starter before the third preseason game. "You'd love to have it done by after the second preseason game," he said. "The third preseason game is when your first unit is going to get the vast majority of the snaps in terms of your preseason allocation. I'd say by the third preseason game we'd like to have the unit established." 

### It's obvious how much Matt Moore loves an offense where he's not being told - by Brandon Marshall or anyone - to throw him the damn ball. "There's no pressure to get the ball to any one specific guy," Moore said. "So you can just go back there and wing it."

### Though Moore called it "weird" and "awkward" that a rookie knows more about the offense than he does, he says it good-naturedly. The relationship among Moore, David Garrard and Ryan Tannehill has been very good, to the point that Philbin went out of his way this week to praise them for how they're helping each other. "It's impressive to watch," Philbin said.

### Oregon linebacker Josh Kaddu became the latest Dolphins draft pick to sign, joining Jonathan Martin, Rishard Matthews, B.J. Cunningham and Kheeston Randall.

For some notes on where the Dolphins stand at safety and receiver, and what Ireland is saying about each of those positions, plus the latest bad news for Warren Sapp, please click here on my latest Sports Buzz post:

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/sports-buzz/

With Armando vacationing, David J. Neal will be at the next scheduled Dolphins availability next Tuesday and will post an update then. There will be four additional days of availability after next Tuesday, before camp opens in late July. I'll be on NBA Eastern Conference Finals duty next week (assuming the Heat makes it) but will have more Dolphins notes in buzz columns. Have a good weekend.

--- BARRY JACKSON

 

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