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Bad center snaps are getting ridiculous

What is Joe Philbin's pain threshold? What is John Benton's pain threshold?

The question matters because as the Dolphins finished their sixth day of training camp practice Thursday, the head coach and offensive line coach no doubt saw the two more bad snaps from their starting center.

The past five practices it was Shelley Smith, who has never played center in an NFL game, firing ground balls or high pitches to quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Midway through Wednesday's practice the Dolphins let Nate Garner start handling the starting center job. And today he misfired on two bad snaps -- rolling one and then sending another over
Tannehill's head.

The Dolphins have not had a practice in which bad snaps have not been a problem. It's seemingly a theme.

Having covered this team since Don Shula was coach, I have never, ever seen so many bad snaps in training camp -- be it the start of camp or not.

The problem is so acute that today the team tried guard David Arkin a little bit at center. "Rolling the dice," Philbin said.

And I'm thinking, is this the NFL? Is this professional football team unable to get somebody -- anybody -- to go through even one practice without flubbing a snap?

In practice!

That's not Paul Soliai (preseason game 1), Vince Wilfork (regular season opener) or Kyle Williams (second game of the regular season) leaning on Miami's centers in anger out there. This is practice.


"I'm confident we can get it fixed," Philbin said. "Football, you can't win with the ball on the ground. But I'm confident we can get it fixed. I believe those guys stayed out after practice again. We do devote a portion of our walk-thru just to the quarterback-center exchange. It's the first thing we do on the field. But we have to get it corrected. I can stand here and talk about it but you have the same set of eyes as I do. We still see the ball on the ground too much."

So when is too much ... too much?

The Dolphins will be without starting center Mike Pouncey for the start of the season and perhaps as long as seven games. How much longer are they going to let failure to do the most fundamental function a center must perform to continue to be a problem before they actually address the issue?

Benton suggested recently that the first preseason game will go a good distance toward telling him how good (or bad?) this offensive line is. So the Dolphins might wait to see how their group of centers-in-the-making play in that Aug. 8 game before making a decision to go outside the organization.

That feels like they're waiting too long.

Samson Satele is out there. Unsigned. Available. Healthy by latest accounts.

Is he a great NFL center? Anyone familiar with his first stint with the Dolphins or his time as a starter with Oakland or Indianapolis knows he is not a great center. He's not a great blocker. He's not overly strong or quick. He's functional at best. 

But functional is an upgrade right now for that position in Miami.

Functional means the snap will get to the quarterback's hands when he expects it and suddenly you are not offering up a blooper reel moment to your practice tape.

The Dolphins brought Satele in for a workout last month. They did not sign him but are keeping him in mind. They want to see how the talent they have on the roster performs before making that call.


I've seen enough. Make the call. Handle the obvious problem. Get Satele up to speed on the offensive system sooner rather than later when it may be too late and could actually affect the regular season. If Smith or Garner or some other roll of the dice corrects the problem then simply get rid of Satele during the round of cuts.

The signing doesn't have to be a marriage.

But have a backup plan. Get a guy who can actually snap the ball.

Something so fundamental cannot be that difficult.