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Thomas: I'm Learning Everything On The Offensive Line

Posted May 16, 2013

Third-round pick out of Tennessee can play guard or tackle.



All rookie Dallas Thomas has to do is look to fellow Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Nate Garner and Jonathan Martin to realize how much of an asset versatility is in the National Football League.

Thomas, who excelled at both tackle and guard at the University of Tennessee against very tough SEC competition, was selected in the third round to shore up the front five for Miami. At 6-foot-5 and 308 pounds, he has the body type to handle the challenges at either position, which is something Garner has done throughout a career that is entering its sixth season. He has lined up at all five positions, while Martin started at both right and left tackle as a rookie.

“I’m learning everything,” said Thomas, who was unable to participate in team drills at the rookie mini-camp earlier this month due to a shoulder injury. “As an offensive linemen you want to know what everybody does on the offensive line so I’m learning everything. They just want me to learn the offense and all I’m doing is learning everything they tell me to learn.”

When Thomas was an underclassman with the Volunteers he remembers watching the Pouncey brothers perform for the rival Florida Gators and tried to learn from them. Now he’s a teammate of Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, who played guard at Florida until his senior year when he replaced his brother, Maurkice, now a Pro Bowl center with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Head Coach Joe Philbin and General Manager Jeff Ireland liked what they saw on film out of Thomas, particularly against the top SEC programs like Florida, Georgia, LSU and South Carolina in each of the previous two seasons. Philbin did say right after Thomas was drafted that he wanted to start him out on the left side of the line and sees him as a player that was well coached at the college level.

“He’s a pretty good technique player,” Philbin said. I think (former Tennessee offensive line coach) Harry Hiestand did a very good job with him. I think Sam Pittman (now at Arkansas) was his line coach this year. Those guys are very, very good college football coaches and you can see that on the tape. He takes a good first step typically. He’s not perfect. He has good hand usage and we like those things about him. He moves fluidly. It doesn’t look like he’s real herky-jerky. We think he has a chance.”

Philbin embraces competition at all levels and at all positions and that’s what Thomas wants, a chance to compete for a starting job. He felt like he handled the one-year transition from tackle to guard with the Vols rather well, but he also understands how much bigger the players he will be facing in the NFL are and that it would be another transition.

Regardless of where he lines up, Thomas realizes that he already is living his childhood dream simply by being drafted and wearing a Miami Dolphins uniform. So he has properly set his priorities.

“I’ve just got to come in and learn the offense so I can get a chance to compete,” Thomas said. “Once you learn the offense and compete with everybody then you can go from there, and right now you’re building from everything from college and seeing what you can take from college and carry it over to the NFL.”
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