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Offensive line starting jobs still unsettled (sort of)

The Miami Dolphins are a couple of hours, as of this writing, of taking the practice field and beginning work for their preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. And by the third preseason game most teams want to know what their starting lineups look like because the fourth preseason game is a throw-away.

Except that wanting to know what the lineup looks like and actually knowing are two different things.

The Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, for example, have no idea who their starting quarterback is going to be. And the Dolphins also have unsettled lineup issues -- most obviously along the offensive line.

This morning when the team put out its depth chart for the Thursday Atlanta game, Dallas Thomas was listed as the starting left guard and Billy Turner was listed as the starting right guard.

And that's not how things are likely to be in the regular season opener. And that's not how things were Friday evening when Miami played at the Cowboys and my line of Laremy Tunsil at left guard and Jermon Bushrod at right guard were the starters.

And here's the news: Do not be surprised if you are inundated by a slew of tweets when practice begins at 1:15 p.m. today that Thomas and Turner are still getting their share of first-team snaps. Yes, the sharing is likely to continue.

Why?

Well, the Dolphins have not totally, completely settled on an offensive line yet.

Bushrod gave up a sack in Friday night's game. Tunsil was good in pass protection but needs improvement in run blocking.

So neither has locked down a starting jobs.

But this: I have been certain since draft day that 1. Tunsil would play guard and not tackle this year. 2 Tunsil would be the starting LG when the regular-season begins Sept. 11 against Seattle.

I'm certain because my sources continue to say this is the plan.

And so forget what your eyes and the tweets say today if/when Thomas gets a share of first-team practice snaps. No, Tunsil hasn't locked himself in yet. That's his doing because his play needs to improve. 

But in exactly 21 days when the regular season begins? That will be a different story.  

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Not practicing today: Mike Pouncey (hip), Chimdi Chekwa (thigh), Walt Aikens (knee), Earl Mitchell (calf), Kenyan Drake (hamstring).

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Cornerback Xavien Howard, who is going to practice for the first time Sunday, told reporters in the locker room before the workout he will not be playing in Thursday's preseason game against Atlanta.

And ...

That makes sense.

One does not throw a player into a game on three days of practice when he's coming off a knee injury and surgery. And the fact Howard is a rookie and has never had one training camp practice in his career makes that case even more obvious.

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