Dolphins coaches last night told rookie Dallas Thomas he should prepare himself for work at guard with the first-team offense today. Thomas, a third-round pick, had played only tackle since training camp began. And he hadn't taken any first-team snaps.
"Nothing is set in stone right now and they just want me to learn the whole offense," Thomas said.
The reason for the sudden promotion and change of position?
John Jerry has an unknown injury. He was not on the field today, neither in practice nor on the side rehabilitating. Coach Joe Philbin was asked about Jerry's absense but said the club's policy is to not comment on injured players -- which I suppose eliminates the possibility Jerry was absent for some other reason.
And so with their presumed starting right guard out today, the Dolphins basically blew up the starting offensive line.
Jerry went out.
Thomas went to left guard.
And Richie Incognito switched over from left guard, where he's started the past three years, to right guard.
So today, the Miami starting offensive line had one player back from a year ago playing a position he played all of last year. That was Mike Pouncey at center. You'll recall right tackle Tyson Clabo is new to the team. Jonathan Martin was mostly at right tackle last year. Incognito was exclusively at left guard and Jerry was at right guard.
That makes today all the more curious. One would think that the easy fix for replacing Jerry would be to plug in Thomas at right guard. (And although he took a couple of snaps at right guard, most of the work was at left).
You would think that Incognito and Martin, who are getting a feel for each other on the left side, wouldn't be broken up.
You would think that Thomas, a rookie, and Martin, a second-year player, form something of an inexperience issue on the left side.
Nope. Coaches would disagree. Philbin cited the fact it's still early in camp and that allows coaches to experiment a bit.
Thomas said he was initially "nervous" about working against the starting defensive line and with the starting OL. He added it is ultimately a good thing because it helped him know what "game speed" against better players is like.
(I got news for him, that wasn't game speed).
Anyway, the moving aorund of the different players is interesting because, frankly, the ofensive line hasn't been very good since camp opened. The defensive front has generally gotten the better of the unit and on blitzes the holes in the A-gap were sizeable.
So coaches are facing this question:
Do you only plug in the rookie and not shake things up and hope the unit comes together?
You make more significant changes and see if that's way better.
By the way, I am only speculating here but if Jerry's injury were serious the move to blow things up makes more sense. Thomas, after all, is more comfortable on the left side and Incognito is a more natural right guard anyway.
But if Jerry is returning tomorrow and all will be returned to normal, today was something of a waste in the OL's search for cohesion.
Makes you wonder how serious Jerry's injury really is.