Dolphins positional battles take shape as OTAs continue

The Miami Dolphins continued their 3-day Organized Training Activities on Wednesday.  The media was not allowed in on this practice (nor will they be let into Thursday’s).  However, when they were there on Tuesday, we found out some interesting (albeit very early) information about what the Dolphins will look like when camp begins in July.  Obviously, we are still almost 2 months away from the start of training camp…but positional battles have already started.  And, by the looks of things, there will be plenty of positional battles for roster spots before final cuts are made.

QB Battle - This will probably be the most talked about positional battle in Dolphins camp.  The Dolphins have a QB that helped lead the team to 6 wins in their final 6 games…..They also have a QB that went to the Pro Bowl in the last season he played…..AND, oh yeah, the Dolphins have a quarterback that was selected with a top 10 draft selection.  Fans will obviously want Tannehill to look great and win the battle.  More likely, it will be Garrard or Moore that win the battle.  As crazy as it sounds, if he’s healthy, Garrard could be the winner, having played in a west coast offense before.  I’m not discounting Moore, but the system is new to him and doesn’t necessarily play to his strengths.

O-Line - With Jonathan Martin still in school, Lydon Murtha is working at right tackle in this week’s Dolphins OTA.  Murtha will probably have an uphill battle for the starting RT spot, but if he shows well now, it could help him later in the offseason.  At right guard, media types think that John Jerry has the edge. Jerry looked good last year, but needs to take another step to help solidify the Dolphins offensive line.  He’ll battle with Artis Hicks and Nate Garner for the starting RG spot.

Wide Receiver - After quarterback, this will probably be the most talked about battle in Dolphins camp.  Brian Hartline and Davone Bess are likely the only players assured of making the team.  Behind them there is a large number of young players that will be fighting it out to make the team.  Julius Pruitt, Marlon Moore, Roberto Wallace, Clyde Gates, BJ Cunningham, Rishard Matthews, Legadu Naanee, and Jeff Fuller will be battling for what is likely to be 3 or 4 spots on the roster.  It’s wide open, so if these guys want to make the roster, they’ll need to stand out in front of the Dolphins coaching staff.

Safety - On the opening day of this week’s OTA, Rashad Jones and Chris Clemons were the Dolphins starting safeties.  They’re battling with Jimmy Wilson and Tyrell Johnson among others.  I’m interested to see what new Dolphins defensive coordinator, Kevin Coyle, can do with this group.

Linebackers/D-Line - The Dolphins first team linebackers were Kevin Burnett (weakside LB), Karlos Dansby (middle LB), and Koa Misi (strongside LB).  This is the way the Dolphins would line up in a 4-3 defense, which the Dolphins are supposedly incorporating more for 2012.  The D-Line in this 4-3 formation was Cameron Wake (DE), Jared Odrick (DE), Paul Soliai (DT), and Randy Starks (DT).  I love the fact that big Paul could be playing defensive tackle and won’t have to face constant double teams.  This front 7 could be great against the run….but how will it do against the pass?  If Olivier Vernon can develop quickly, he could be used as a situational pass rusher the way Jason Taylor was last year.  The Dolphins MUST find someone to create pressure opposite Cameron Wake.

With all of these battles, I really can’t wait for training camp to get here.  Football isn’t THAT far away and these OTAs are just the beginning.  I’m excited by the positional battles and to see the new up-tempo offense Joe Philbin is installing.  Hopefully in 2012, Dolphins football will again be exciting for us all!

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