With Randy Starks absent from practice the past two weeks mourning the death of his mother, Tony McDaniel has gotten plenty of exercise with the first team at defensive tackle.
But heres a scenario to consider with the offseason just days away: What if neither Starks nor McDaniel is with the Dolphins in 2013? (Its not that far-fetched; each one is in the final year of his contract.)
Perhaps the team would find a replacement from the outside. Or maybe the Dolphins would use a proven starter who has taken scores of snaps at the position this season.
Jared Odrick is officially listed as a defensive end, and thats his most natural position. But Odrick has made many of his biggest plays this year while lined up opposite an interior lineman.
He can be a force inside, Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. Hes a big man, but hes athletic and I think sometimes it creates a mismatch athletically with guards and centers. Weve got to continue to keep getting him more and more reps inside and get him isolated as best we can.
Are the Dolphins grooming Odrick to make yet another position change after being a 3-4 defensive end under the previous regime? Probably not yet. Coyle said Odrick might work as an every-down tackle but added, Im not sold that thats his best position right now.
But necessity often turns the imperfect into the serviceable. And Odrick has been more than that this season, particularly when lined up in the middle.
Odrick, who can plan every position on the defensive line, has career highs in tackles (34) and stuffs (six). His five sacks are one shy of his personal best, which he set a season ago. Odrick has been on the field for more than 80 percent of his teams defensive snaps.
And his best work has been at defensive tackle, where he is usually placed in passing situations. Pro Football Focus ranks Odrick 63rd of the 64 4-3 defensive ends who have taken at least 25 percent of their teams snaps this season, giving Odrick well-below-average marks in pass rush.
I make a lot of plays from inside, as opposed to an outside pass-rusher, which everybody talks about wanting next year, Odrick said. Im put in there for a reason, inside, to generate some type of pass rush, or make plays, regardless of the position Im in.
When asked if he could be an every-down defensive tackle, Odrick answered unequivocally: Yes.
He certainly has the size (6-5, 302) to do so. Odricks desire and motor never have been in question. And Dolphins coach Joe Philbin has praised the third-year players athleticism and accountability, as well.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Odrick has made the biggest strides in technique and anticipation of the game. The Dolphins could use a sustained pass rush from their defensive line this weekend, when theyre in New England to face Tom Brady.
That being said, the organization seems to like his current role as a hybrid player who can adapt to the game situation.
If that came along, I would do it, Odrick said of moving solely to defensive tackle. Its not something that Im vying for, its not something Im asking to do. Im just here to make plays. When everythings all said and done after this year, well see what happens.
• The Dolphins ruled Davone Bess out of Sundays game in New England, the third consecutive game hell miss with an injured back. Should the Dolphins choose to put him on injured reserve to finish the season, practice squad receiver Brian Tyms is a prime candidate to be elevated. Tyms is traveling with the team for the first time this season.
Nolan Carroll (knee), Josh Samuda (shoulder) and Randy Starks (nonfootball, personal) were listed in Fridays injury report as questionable to play. Seven Dolphins were probable: Armon Binns, Chris Clemons, Karlos Dansby, Brian Hartline, Reshad Jones, Koa Misi and Sean Smith.
• Chas Alecxih, a defensive tackle on the Dolphins practice squad, announced Friday on Twitter that he has signed a contract, keeping him with the team in 2013.