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Handful of starting jobs still wide open

The Dolphins begin their fourth week of training camp and will prepare for their third preseason game this week but there are still issues as fundamental as picking starting personnel at a handful of positions that need settling.

The club has yet to fully decide on a starting running back, starting right guard, starting defensive tackle next to Paul Soliai, starting cornerback opposite Brent Grimes, and perhaps even starting defensive end opposite Cameron Wake.

At running back, it's obvious Lamar Miller is the presumed starter but he hasn't exactly wowed yet, despite enormous potential to do so. The fact is he had the tough moment fumbling against Dallas and didn't really do much in carrying two times for 6 yards against Jacksonville.

Daniel Thomas, who has been given a smaller share of first-team snaps in practice, has avoided the turnover but also hasn't impressed in two games. Thus, we've got a no-decision so far.

Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman today said the competition is "pretty close."

At right guard, it seemed as if Josh Samuda had established himself as the favorite once John Jerry went down with a knee injury. Multiple players inlcuding Samuda were tried as part of the guard competition. But Samuda, who has started two games at the position, struggled against Jacksonville, giving up a sack and showing poor technique on another play. So he regressed somewhat.

That means the job is wide open again. Coach Joe Philbin said today that Nate Garner is "absolutely in the competition" for the starting job. Lance Louis has a chance as well, although he has yet to play in the preseason despite practicing. Louis is recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Best case scenario for the Dolphins is Jerry gets back to work this week and plays in two weeks. And he's in shape. And plays well.

Yeah, all that could happen.

Oh boy.

The kicking job is obviously open. Rookie Caleb Sturgis was brought in to replace veteran Dan Carpenter and after getting off to a slow start, has picked things up lately. He connected on a 58 yard field goal against Jacksonville, booted every one of his six kickoffs into the end zone and got four touchbacks for the trouble.

Message sent.

Do not be surprised if the Dolphins start shopping the loser of this competition in trade as both are actually kicking well this camp.

The cornerback job opposite Brent Grimes is being decided between Richard Marshall and Dimitri Patterson. Want a darkhorse?

Rookie Will Davis continues to make plays and although he is "inconsistent," according to coaches. He is seemingly always around the ball. He had an interception against Jacksonville and another against Dallas. Yes, he also had a PI against Dallas in the end zone, but picks are valuable commodities.

The competition for a starting job between Randy Starks and Jared Odrick was supposed to be a slugfest. Starks, however, has been battling a knee injury for over a week so he's not been in the battle. Odrick is the guy right now but if Starks gets back this week or next, the competition will resume.

Either way, the Dolphins plan to alternate DTs. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has said he has two starters at that position although it is obvious only one player plays the opening snap. The two players are good at different things so the job may alternate depending on the offense they face.

Everyone assumes the left defensive end job belongs to Olivier Vernon. Well, yes, he's making it hard to think otherwise. He's practicing well and there's nothing about his play against Jacksonville (only game he's been in) that suggested regression.

But ...

Rookie Dion Jordan is being groomed for that spot. The team wants him pushing Vernon. The team wants him to be good enough to be a three-down player. If he doesn't win the job, well, that's life and he can be used as a passing-down specialist. But that decision has not been made yet.

So that job, like the others, is still open. 

Comments

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given the huge effort this offseason in freeagency to improve the passing game, and the questions at guard working towards it's demize, would it be a consideration(given how deep the defensive line is) to move a player such as randy starks into that role? i know it's a hole different style of play but randy is a tough dude, i think the O-LINE sounds a whole lot better when you add the name STARKS to it... MARTIN, INCOGNITO, POUNCEY, STARKS, CLABO...now that sounds like something! tannehill is going to need time to throw down field, and so far it doesn't seem as if our second year QB is being given enough time to take advantage of those targets.

@ 9:52. I have high hopes for Louis too and I think he will be a nice insurance policy for Jerry and Incognito (maybe even Clabo) at one point but it may not be in September or October. He was a good player with the bears and may be for the Dolphins but he needs his time.

Blog, ur right, i should've ignored him ... I blame it on being Monday morning.

Interesting take on the starting jobs Mando.

RB- Should be Miller. He's only had 4 carries so far and should get more in the next few preseason games. Thomas actually made some nice plays Friday though. I hope he can at least be a decent change of pace.

RG- Depends on who of Jerry/Louis gets healthy. I think Garner can at least hold the spot down in the mean time. Samuda looked pretty shaky though.

Kicker- Going to be Sturgis. I doubt anyone will trade anything for Carpenter because of 1 year on contract and cap hit, but even a 7th would be a win for Ireland.

DE- Going to be Vernon. Especially since Jordan got bit banged up Friday.

DT- Looks like its going to be Odrick because Starks is hurt. Both will play a lot though. It does looks like Stars was a bit of an overpay at the 8.45 million tag figure though. I'm hoping it allows them to resign him next offseason a year older at a cheaper price.

CB- Interesting one here. Patterson can be traded or cut and save 4.6 million in cap space. Is he good enough to justify this? Will the team be ok with Marshall as the starter and Davis as the nickel. Will be intersting to see how this one goes.

I hope Jamar Taylor can get healthy (he seems to be practicing) and make an impact. Still have high expectations for the guy. Also, remember when draft "experts" said Will Davis was a reach. I'm no expert either, but he looks good to me so far.

Ne Mo, I was not one of the guys who said Will Davis was a reach. I touted him before the draft and was happy that we got him and Taylor (two of the top 5 I thought). Side note, another guy I really liked that I had top five was the guy Jacksonville drafted in Dwayne Gratz. Nice pick by him off of Matt Moore too. Liked that Connecticut defense from last year. Thought they had four guys with a good shot to be players.

Sorry if I made that seem like it was directed at you Mark. I meant it for the talking heads on TV. Yeah lots of those UConn guys looked good leading up to the draft. I think if Taylor steps up, Ireland will have done a pretty decent job addressing the CB spot.

Compared to the last pair of CB's we drafted in the same year, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis already look far better and one hasn't played a game yet.

Will Davis has looked like a real playmaking CB so far, and he can only continue to improve. The consistency will come and I am happy to see the odd PI penalty or blown coverage if he gets takeaways.

Jamar Taylor will be a very good CB in the league, just a shame he has been held back by his injury. If we can sign Grimes to a 2 or 3 year deal (I have no worries regarding his fitness) we can possibly afford to let Marshall go next season.

I didn't take it that way NeMO, no worries. But these talking heads sure like to crap on anything the Miami Dolphins do, don't they? Will Davis broke up a boatload of passes in college. He measured up well at the combine - just didn't play at a big school. Most of these guys never saw him play or saw him play sparingly. I heard a couple of stories from people who knew Davis personally and none will surprised if he makes it but did say that he would need a little time because of the big step up in competition. And you're right. the team has done a great job at CB. Picking up patterson for nothing then signing Grimes on the cheap and the drafting point to a great job done by the front office.

Agree with 10:14. Patterson and Marshall will be nice caretakers until these young guys are ready to take over.

I really don't know what to make of Patterson. On the one hand with his contract it would be good to release him and save ourselves $4.6 million. However, he has looked pretty good and I prefer him on the outsode to Marshall, who should just be playing inside where he has always done best.

A real head scratcher, and not sure which way I would jump if I was Ireland. Glad I don't have to make that decision.

@10:16, I think the job Ireland has done with our secondary has been excellent this offseason. Getting Grimes on a 1 year deal, getting Reshad Jones extended and then drafting Taylor and Davis instantly improved that unit a lot. Couple that with getting Clemons back for 1 more year cannot be ignored.

Throw in Patterson and Marshall who are solid vets, and the work done this year deseves to get a lot more credit than it is from the TV pundits.

Patterson with a 4 million dollar contract needs to produce. If he doesn't start then he needs to renegotiate or be cut. He should be in the number 2 corner discussion every day at that salary IMO.

Word is.. Daniel Thomas will be starting and Lamar the backup, we'll see how long it takes before Thomas gets knocked out.

Darkoak, well if that's the baromoter, then Patterson has kept up his side of the bargain. Coaches have him in the #2 spot and he's doen quite well so far in practice (apparently) and in the games. he's not giving up much at all. If he's the #2 in this bunch then he's well worth the $4M a year (which the team can get rid of at any time without penalty even after the season starts).

Well said about the talking heads Mark. I remember Gruden bashing Dion Jordan pretty hard when he was picked. I agree with verbalknit and Darkoak about Patterson. He seems pretty good, but at 4.6 mil. Thats a solid number 2 CB money right there. Marshall actually costs about as much, but theres not much savings if we cut him because of dead money.

Kudos to the front office though. Jones is locked up through 2017. CB we got a big signing in Grimes, have some vet depth, and 2 promising rookies. I actually like Clemons more than most on here and think bringing him back on a 1 year prove it deal was a good idea.

Here's hoping that Ireland was the best of the bunch and Sparano and Parcells were the problem. I don't agree with everything he does, but he has made some nice moves this offseason and it seems like he has a plan.

@10:32, I thought they could only get rid of Patterson without any cap penalty up to the first game.

I could well have that wrong, but am sure I read it somewhere. I am no Dawn Aponte when it comes to contracts.

verbalkint, @ 10:37 I believe you are correct on that. I think 4+ year veterans have their contract guaranteed if they are on the roster for the first game.

@10:37, Hey NeMo, it's already been shown what a useless waste of space Sporano was. OL guru my a**. As for Parcells he was a dinosaur who took us down the wrong path when he came.

I do not agree with everything Ireland has done, but his body of work since Philbin has been here isn't too bad. He seems to understand what the coaches want as far as scheme and character are concerned, and is picking up players in the draft and FA which match them.

NeMo, I also like Clemmons, grant he doesnt cause a lot of TO's hes very solid and he rarely lets the WR get past him, he almost might be the fastest player on the team.

Clemmons problem is his lack of instincts and poor tackling. But he'll get the job done.

ANyone heard the interview on WQAM, Gray and Bumpkins said that Mike Wallace is the fastest player they ever seen on any level. Hope this translates to TDs! BTW thwy also that Bryan Tyms is a close second.

Looks like Jamar Taylor and Rishard Matthews are both back practicing in camp today. Hopefully both can at least have some kind of contribution this year. I actually think Taylor can catch up pretty fast and Matthews will be the number 4 WR.

@ 10:37, from what I can see on his capo hit details, well the $4.6M in entirety can only be saved if he's cut before week 1. After that, he gets paid so the number goes down on a pro rata basis. He has no guaranteed money though so he can be let go anytime. I don't expect him to though unless he really gums this up which he hasn't so far. Not like the team is up against the cap with some glaring holes on their roster. They are in a position of luxury (partly because their QB is cheap) to keep expensive guys on the roster like this.

Or you guys could be right with that vet language in the contracts. Either way for 2013, he's affordable - team has plenty of space.

Patterson needs to stay period, Ill cut Marshall before Patterson, in his limited time here he's has made an impact unlike Marshall who's been burned multiple times.

Yeah if Patterson keeps performing the way he has in camp so far I would keep him. I think the 4.6 mil can be rolled over to next year as far as cap space goes. So could it be better spent next year? Maybe, but if Ireland goes 7-9 again, I don't think there will be a next year for him.

That is true Truth, but is part of that down to the fact we have been expecting him to do something he cannot do. He made his name covering the slot receivers, tight ends in the middle. If we left him there I think he would be able to do a job for us.

Will Davis definitely seems to be a playmaker. However, the dirty word that keeps coming from by coaches regarding his play, is also: "Needs to be more consistent". Whatever this means.

I really want to see the Jamar Taylor kid. His highlight tape looks like Vonte Davis in the run game. He can really lay the wood. Can separate receivers from the ball too. IMO, he looks more like a Vonte Davis with an actual brain

DC Kevin Coyle said DE Dion Jordan had not gotten enough work to challenge for starting job. Jordan missing more time with shoulder injury.

-Armando's twitter feed

Looks like what we were saying about Jordan being behind from not being in the OTAs is true. The injury and missed practice time take him out of the starter hunt for now, and not surprisingly so.

Finally got a chance to watch the preseason game. It was hardly a blow out as people say it was. First team didn't do much at all. Everyone who wants to give Tannehill a pass because he didn't have receivers last year or the O line is not strong this year obviously didn't watch the game this weekend. Tannehill holds on to the ball way to long. Of course there will be some pressure through the game, but all good QB's drop back and get the ball out quickly. You may hate Matt Moore, but he makes a quick decision and throws.

It seems there will be no feature running back this year and rather a platoon of Players each playing according to the situation. Eerily similar to Times past if so.

I wouldn't dump Marshall or Patterson quite yet. Unless, someone from another position really comes on like gangbusters these final 3 weeks of regular season.

For once, the cb position seems like definite area of strength. Injuries happen do happen over the regular season. So, sometimes moves you've made "too early" during the earliest part of the season, you wish you could get back when the injury bug hits.

Like someone else posted, we're fine cap wise, so keep'em all unless we really need the cap space or serious upgrade is available in trade at another position.

Strategy with the FB position is anybody's guess right now.

MIT,
If what you are saying about how good our secondary is true than we should make the postseason.

But I'm sorry I'm just not convinced. We were 27th in pass defense last season and we had Carrol, Patterson, Marshall and Smith. We swapped Smith for Grimes. If Grimes can make it through the first 5 games then we should have 2 or 3 wins and that wil mean we are still alive.

I would like to throw this out there. Something I have not heard anyone talking about. We moved up to the #3 spot to draft a guy who is not starting over O.Vernon. Does this make any sense. Yes he will be a good player but coundn't we have used that #3 for a player that would come in and make an imediate impact? Ireland cannot draft.

yeah, Matt Moore makes quick decisions and passes fast to teh other team. Matt Moore makes WAYYYY too many turnovers to be a full time #1. The NFl knows it, the Miami Dolphins know it, Matt Moore knows it (why he signed to be a #2), but some of you hang on to this belief. Give it up, Moore is what he is, a fine backup.

ETF, you seem to forget that Patterson played 1.5 games, Marshall played a couple of games witha back injury before he tapped out in like game 5 or 4, Carroll was the only constant and he is a depth/special teams player at best who is just playing well enough in preseason to find a role on the team. Hardly a #1 or #2 over a full season. And a healthy Grimes for Sean Smith?? I'ma Sean Smith fan and even I think that's a big upgrade. Smith is mighty fine against big Physical guys but for some reason weas very average agqainst average WRs. i could never figure that part out.

ETF, I do expect this defense if healthy to be top five in the league. I expect this defense to do our offense a few favours. I expect our offense to be moderately improved. I expect to be in the hunt and for once a fine team to watch and remain so for a few years.

A MAN JUST WON A PRIZE ON THE PRICE IS RIGHT!!!

A MAN JUST WON A PRIZE ON THE PRICE IS RIGHT!!!

Fraud, here's hoping Grimes can stay healthy. From 09-11 he missed only 4 games. Then had the achilles tear in 12, so I'm hoping it was a fluke.

About last year, we only had Patterson for the last 2 games after we picked him up on waivers. Marshall only played 4 games last year. I think he was playing hurt 2 or 3 of them.

So we had Smith and Carrol as our starters for 10 games. Now we have Grimes, out vets healthy, and 2 rookies who I think can contribute. Hopefully Carrol is back in a lesser role as well.

We have to see it in the games, but I have high hopes that this defense will have no more weak links.

San Fran took Aldon Smith in a similar position to Jordan and he didn't start either. jevon kearse wasn't a starter year one either. But they both made serious impacts. Don't think a pass rusher needs to start year one and be worthy of that pick. NOt like Vernon is having a so so off season. he's a beast in the making. We have a luxury of riches and that's why Jordan doesn't start. Ireland's drafts the last two years have been awesome or at least have the promise to be awesome.


Yes he will be a good player but coundn't we have used that #3 for a player that would come in and make an imediate impact? Ireland cannot draft.

Posted by: Ronald | August 12, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Like daft day tv analysts, I thought Ireland was trading up to get Lane Johnson. I was disappointed because I really wasn't feeling Johnson that high. So, when I heard Jordan's name called, I was just happy Ireland wasn't taking Lane Johnson that high.

I think its possible we could have been better served trading one of the 2nd rd picks for Albert. Doing this we could have had the same exact draft, with the exception of Dion Jordan on the roster.

Still, this kid Jordan could have a very stellar nfl career. At least as dolfans, we all are certainly hoping so...

According to the raves bestowed by the Coaches on Dion Sims it is a certainty he will be a starter this year probably at different positions.

MIT,
The best result will be if you are right and I am wrong. I will be happy to be wrong.

If we kept Smith AND added Grimes and drafted Davis and Taylor then I think we would be stocked at CB and better to handle a setback by Grimes.

But if Grimes doesn't break camp then to me Davis and Taylor are our 2 best CBs and Brees, Ryan, Flacco and Dalton will take them apart.

But that's why they play the games right?

Ronald the Jordan pick is to have a guy ready for when Wake tapers off.

ETF, I would've been happy to have Smith back myself. he got the biggest contract for a CB on the open market however. Does that seem right? Who knows .. but KC obviously liked hima lot and more than Ireland did. Let's see who's right ..

I'm not saying I will be right, let's just see how it plays out with the CBS, i just have optimism regarding that position. Actually I have a lot of optimism regrading every unit except for OL. I'm just hoping they can hold their own. QB - guarded optimism and low to moderate expectations for this year.

Sean Smith Achilles heels was that he cant consistently stick smaller quicker wr's in man or zone coverage. Always tackle after the catch.

However, the bigger wr's with more fast than quick he seems to handle well. Wr's mor quick than fast just ate Sean Smith's lunch.

I think KC will soon find this out.......

Agreed though that if the rookies need to play too much too soon then it will be bad.

I didn't mind Smith either. His inability to make the camp changing INT was maddening though. Was he worth 5.5 mil a year and 7.5 mil guaranteed. IMO no. We got Grimes for the same 5.5 mil.

As for Jordan. People on this site have been saying for years that we need the number 2 pass rusher to compliment Wake. We need to pressure Brady like the Giants did to beat the Pats.

Ireland did that. He didn't play it safe and take Lane Johnson, he didn't stay at 12 and take a DT or O-lineman. It was a ballsy move that I liked. If he has to be a situational pass rusher like Aldon Smith, so be it.

With Jordan and Vernon the team now has 2 chances for another elite pass rusher next to Wake.

Mark, I went to that website to try and watch the game, A virus destroyed my laptop... Ugh. I know that was not your intention just be careful pushing that site now.

Unless 4 players on the defense forget to run on the field during the game,TanneHenne and Wallace will never connect on a long ball.
LMAO@UHOMERS

I think Tampa Bay will be watching our kicker competition closely. I doubt they'd offer anything in a trade, but will wait until we cut one of them.

Soon, the cuts will have to be made, like it or not. And, it will be interesting to watch the rest of the NFL scrambling to pick up the players that Miami does wind up cutting from the roster.

Mando, No offensive line no running or passing the football. Miller et. al. cant shine, as u put it, without a good OL. I am amazed week in, week out you guys in the media expect a RB or QB to put on some magic show without the aid of an OL.
You guys can give the QB a won/lose record (which is obscene) but its an 11 man unit and if one part of the unit fails then the entire unit fails,,,,period,,,,end of story. Or in this case the OL is the story and Ireland/Philbin better wake up and smell the dog sh** cause thats what the Dolphins will be,,,,again,,,, without a good OL.

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