More 2014 Training Camp Previews
There’s no position on the Dolphins roster that has undergone a bigger transition since the end of last season than the offensive line, and it’s not even close.
Given what transpired in the 2013 season and the fact that four players who started games last year were scheduled to become free agents, this development wasn’t totally unexpected.
The Dolphins focused on rebuilding the offensive line in the offseason, first signing Pro Bowl tackle Branden Albert
, Shelley Smith
and Jason Fox
in free agency and then adding Ja’Wuan James and Billy Turner
in the first and third rounds of the draft.
The transformation of the offensive line didn’t stop after the draft, as the Dolphins signed veteran guard Daryn Colledge
11 days after the end of their three-day minicamp.
That transaction came after reports surfaced that Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey
had to undergo hip surgery and would be sidelined for at least three months.
With Pouncey sidelined, the entire starting offensive line for the season opener against the New England will be different from the one that took the field for the 2013 opener against the Cleveland Browns. BREAKING DOWN DOLPHINS OFFENSIVE LINEMEN RETURNING VETERANS • G David Arkin (6-5, 310) —
Signed off the Dallas Cowboys practice squad last November, Arkin appeared in one game for the Dolphins last season. He played both right guard and left tackle at Missouri State before being a fourth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2011. • C Sam Brenner (6-2, 310) —
After joining the team as an undrafted rookie, Brenner began the season on the practice squad before being activated and starting at left guard against San Diego on Nov. 17. Brenner ended up starting four games at guard for the Dolphins, but he’s being listed as a center on the roster. • G Nate Garner (6-7, 325) —
The longest-tenured member of the Dolphins offense, Garner remains a valuable player because of his ability to play practically anywhere on the offensive line. Last season, for example, he started four games at left guard and two at center. • C Mike Pouncey (6-5, 303) —
The hip injury that has sidelined Pouncey is even more disappointing considering he’s coming off his first Pro Bowl invitation. Pouncey clearly is one of the most important players on the offensive line, which is just one reason the team is hoping he can return sooner rather than later.
• G/T Dallas Thomas (6-5, 306) —
One of the revelations of the offseason, Thomas appears to have made great strides after a rookie season spent mostly watching and learning. Thomas lined up at both guard and tackle in 2013, but it appears he’ll be given every chance to win the starting job at left guard. VETERAN ADDITIONS • T Branden Albert (6-5, 316) —
Albert started at left tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs the past six seasons after being a first-round pick in 2008 and he’s coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance. Albert has established a reputation as one of the best pass-protecting left tackles in the NFL. • Daryn Colledge (6-4, 308) —
The veteran, signed on June 30, brings a lot of experience and durability to the offensive line. He has never missed a game since entering the NFL as a second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2006 and has started 124 of the 128 games he has played. • T Jason Fox (6-6, 314) —
The former University of Miami standout has battled injuries since entering the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 2010 and he’s hoping for a bounce-back season. • G Shelley Smith (6-4, 312) —
Smith was signed as a free agent after he spent the past two seasons with the St. Louis Rams and started eight games. Smith, considered a solid run blocker, is hoping to continue his progress in his first season in Miami. Although Smith has played guard during his time in the NFL, it’s not impossible the Dolphins will take a look at him at center during training camp in light of Pouncey’s injury. ROOKIES OR FIRST-YEAR PLAYERS • OL Evan Finkenberg (6-4, 300) —
Finkenberg was an All-Pac-12 first-team selection at left tackle for Arizona State last season, but his physical dimensions make him better suited to play guard in the NFL.
• T Ja’Wuan James (6-6, 318) —
The Dolphins made James the 19th overall selection in the 2014 NFL draft after he started 49 games at the University of Tennessee and served as a team captain. James is considered equally adept at run blocking and pass protection. • OL Tyler Larsen (6-4, 313) —
One of the most accomplished centers in college football the last few years, Larsen earned first-team all-conference accolades at Utah State in 2011, 2012 and 2013 playing at center, although he’s versatile enough to line up at guard if needed. • C Samuel Longo (6-5, 305) —
Longo began his collegiate career at Ohio State before transferring to Cincinnati. The Dolphins signed him after he took part in the rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. • T Michael Philipp (6-4, 328) —
Like Longo, Philipp was signed after he took part in the rookie minicamp on a tryout. Philipp, who has three brothers who played college football, started 48 games at the University of California.
• OL Billy Turner (6-4, 315) —
A four-year starter at North Dakota State, Turner helped his team win three consecutive FCS national championships. The son of former Minnesota Vikings running back Maurice Turner, Billy was considered one of the top FCS prospects in the draft. • OL Davonte Wallace (6-3, 308) —
Wallace played left tackle at New Mexico State, earning second-team all-independent honors in 2013 but figures to be better suited to play inside because of his height.