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2 posts from August 18, 2014

August 18, 2014

The offensive line: Pick the good news, bad news

Good news or bad news first?

Let's do good news: Center Mike Pouncey repeated today he is hoping and working hard in order to avoid being placed on the regular-season physically unable to perform list and, for the first time, gave a timetable for what he hopes will be his return to action after his offseason hip surgery.

"You only play in London one time so hopefully I'll be back by then," Pouncey said Monday.

The Dolphins play in London against the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 28. It is the fourth game of the season. That's the game Pouncey is hoping will be his first in 2014.

That is hopeful but not certain. The Dolphins are still seriously considering putting Pouncey on regular-season PUP which would mean he'll miss six weeks before he can even begin to practice. Pouncey would much prefer being on the active roster and getting on the practice field much before then. 

"I don't want to go on PUP because that means you have to miss six weeks and that puts me back further than when I'm expecting to be back so hopefully I won't be on PUP and can start out practicing as soon as possible and get ready to be in game shape," Pouncey said.

That's as good as it gets for the news coming out of the Dolphins offensive line today. The bad news. Joe Philbin announced today the Dolphins do not have a starting right guard. No, seriously.

Five days from the third preseason game against Dallas, the so-called dress rehearsal game of the preseason, and only three weeks from the opener, and the Dolphins are stumped at right guard.

"We don't have a first'-team right guard right now," Philbin said after practice Monday.

He ain't kidding, brother.

Dallas Thomas, fresh off a two-penalty, one sack allowed and no push-in-the-running game night at Tampa Bay, has lost the right guard spot in practice he had the past three weeks. Shelley Smith took the starting right guard snaps today in practice.

The problem?

Shelley Smith himself needs a lot of work to become a good right guard. He's not there now. Sorry.

"A lot of credit goes to Tampa, they have a very good defense," Smith said of Saturday night's problems up front.

The Dolphins really like Billy Turner. He'll likely be a starter before this season is over. But the rookie out of North Dakota State is not ready quite yet.

By the way, Philbin wasn't in any mood to anoint anyone today. He said the left guard position is up in the air as well. "Not a lot of clarity there," the coach said.

Daryn Colledge, a late offseason free agent signing, has taken about 90 percent of the first-team snaps at left guard. But while he is not a disaster, he's not ready to go to Hawaii as a Pro Bowl player, either.

The problem? The Dolphins don't have anyone any better right now.

I suggested several days ago the Dolphins should look into Alex Boone, the guard who is holding out in San Francisco. I don't believe that is likely to happen now based on issues relative to Boone's personal life and other matters.

Dolphins back at practice today

The Dolphins are back practicing today. This is what's happening at this hour:

Dallas Thomas,who struggled mightily at right guard for the Dolphins in the preseason game at Tampa Bay, is out as the starter. Shelley Smith is going to be taking first-team snaps at right guard for the first time this camp.

The Dolphins like third-round pick Billy Turner. They really like him. He'll be getting some right guard snaps as well. He's probably going to be the upgrade at the position before this season is over -- as soon as he matures a little bit more.

Running back Daniel Thomas, who missed two weeks with a hamstring injury, is back on the field today. Mike Gillislee, who missed last week with a hamstring injury, is still not back today.

Tight end Charles Clay, who missed the past couple of weeks with a knee injury, is back on the field today. Jason Fox, who missed time last week with a chest injury, is also back working.

Here are the injuries of note: Kicker Caleb Sturgis (groin), Center Sam Brenner (shoulder), Defensive lineman Terrence Fede (knee), DB Jalil Brown (thigh), defensive tackle Anthony Johnson (shoulder) and kick returner Marcus Thigpen (thigh) will be out multiple practices, per the team.

Sturgis is an interesting study. He has been bad this preseason, with much time missed due to injury. I am told the team wants him to get better to compete with new kicker John Potter.

But Sturgis, who was the only kicker in camp when it opened and seemed certain of a roster spot then, is no longer a certainty for anything. He has to get healthy and perform.