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Starks: Not starting is 'punishment' for offseason

Randy Starks did not report for any Dolphins offseason work, as was his right once the Dolphins tagged him with their franchise tag. With that tag unsigned, Starks could skip workouts and OTAs and conditioning. And he did.

But when he reported to training camp, the former Pro Bowl defensive lineman found himself competing for a starting role with Jared Odrick.

And Starks privately found this odd. And Starks privately wasn't too thrilled with the setup.

And Starks let some of those private feelings out in public Monday.

"I'm not going to say nothing bad about it," Starks said. "It is what it is. I wasn't here so I guess this is my punishment."

Starks believes, to some degree at least, that because he showed unhappiness with the franchise tag and didn't attend much of the offseason fun, the Dolphins are punishing him for that.

He doesn't like the situation, necessarily, but isn't really complaining, either. He is internalizing much of his dislike for the situation by talking of playing better than he's ever played before. That, by the way, also got out a bit Monday.

"The year I was a backup [2008] I was one of the most dominant players on the defensive line," he said. "If that's the case [this year] I have the potential do it again."

Two things:

The Dolphins have not completely decided that Odrick is the starter and Starks is the backup. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has said he'll pick starters week to week depending on who the opponent is and whether Starks or Ordrick match up best against that opponent. And both men will play a lot, regardless of who starts.

Secondly, Starks is playing under an $8.45 million guaranteed franchise tag. But it seems more and more the team is moving away from him after this year. He's only 29 years old and wants a multi-year contract but the Dolphins are unlikely to sign both he and Paul Soliai to a long-term deal.

So it's also possible this is the first step for the Dolphins in distancing themselves eventually from Starks.