The plan with Laremy Tunsil has been to bring him along slooowly because coach Adam Gase wants to build within the rookie left guard a solid foundation the team can feel confident about this year and years in the future. It is, as Gase has repeated often, a process.
And that process will include giving Tunsil his first start of the preseason (of his NFL career, really) on Friday night against the Dallas Cowboys. I am told the team planned to do this days ago and this week has been steadily stepping up Tunsil's repetitions with the first-team offense in advance of the move.
Neither Tunsil nor Dallas Thomas have been told of anything in case the plan changes.
Tunsil would replace Thomas, who started at left guard all of 2015, was the starter in the preseason opener against the New York Giants, and is first on the depth chart.
One way Tunsil doesn't start is if coaches go back and study the tape of Wednesday's (today's) practice and see regression from the rookie. The staff is also gauging his acumen in meetings so failure to grasp something in meetings the next two days might also affect the decision. Then, I am told, the team might back off -- and still give Tunsil first-team snaps against the Cowboys, perhaps on the second or third series the starting line is in the game.
Coaches will meet Wednesday night to solidify their decisions.
"Nothing's really set right now," Gase said Wednesday.
But as of now, the hope is Tunsil continues his steady climb to eventually taking over the starting left guard spot by the regular-season opener Sept. 11 at Seattle.
So why is this taking so long for a player that was a first-round pick and the second or third most talented player on Miami's draft board last spring?
"This is a league where confidence does matter," Gase said. "And I’ve seen rookies before, you throw them in and (you’re) like, ‘Well, he’s got to play.’ And then two years later everybody’s calling for his head. So right now we’re going through the process that we need to go through.
"I like what he’s doing. I like the fact that he’s coming out there, giving everything he has, and he’s trying to make sure mentally that he’s on the same page, because there’s two other guys counting on him plus a back. We’ve got to make sure that whoever our five guys are, we’re doing the right thing – playing physical and they can count on each other."
Tunsil is playing it straight because, well, he doesn't know anything. As I wrote earlier, he has not been told anything.