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Vernon likely starting DE, Lane demoted

First round pick Dion Jordan is unlikely to win the starting defensive end job opposite Cam Wake because he hasn't gotten enough work in practice or games to mount the challenge and is unlikely to get much work any time soon as he nurses the recurring shoulder injury that has nagged him this year.

Jordan, who had shoulder surgery in February and missed all of the offseason and the start of camp, re-injured the same shoulder in Friday night's preseason game against Jacksonville. It is not considered serious but he did not practice the past two days and while his status is day-to-day, he may not even play in the preseason game against Houston Saturday.

"We're obviously taking some precautions as we move forward with Dion," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "We don't want to overload him at this point. We got a plan in place to get him ready to participate at the level we feel best at at the beginning of the season so we'd like to see as much of him as we can but we're going to be careful how we proceed."

While the Dolphins do expect Jordan to be ready for the Sept. 8 opener at Cleveland, his role will likely be as substitute on passing downs. Olivier Vernon will be the starting right end, barring an unforseen circumstance.

The only way Jordan could change that is by getting more work in practice. But, of course, that's not likely to happen now that the team is taking "precautions" with the rookie because of the shoulder.

"He hasn't gotten the reps that would be necessary to put him out there and start at this point," Coyel said. "But you still have three weeks of training camp. It's a little bit premature to determine exactly what his status will be at the beginning of the season. We're taking it one day at a time."

Today it became clear Jorvorskie Lane is struggling to keep his spot on the roster, much less his starting fullback job from a season ago. Lane was relegated to snaps with the reserves while Evan Rodriguez took all the available first-team snaps at fullback.

That endangers Lane's spot on the roster because the Dolphins are going to keep one fullback at most when they trim the roster to 53 players and the backup fullback won't be one of those.

That doesn't, however, mean Rodriguez is secure in winning a roster spot. He must still perform well but even if he does, the Dolphins may still decide to go without any fullbacks on the roster and instead let H-back Charles Clay fill that role as well as his duties at tight end.

Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman has said he likes using Clay and tight end Dustin Keller in the lineup at the same time and that makes the fullback position one of uncertainty.