From the department of the inevitable becoming official:
Laremy Tunsil will start Week 1 against the Seahawks.
The Dolphins released their first regular-season depth chart Monday. On it, Tunsil was ahead of Dallas Thomas at left guard -- a move that anyone with even a passing familiarity with the team saw coming.
“He earned it,” said Dolphins coach Adam Gase. “He earned being in that spot.”
The same goes for Arian Foster, who beat out Jay Ajayi for the starting running back job. The Dolphins telegraphed their thinking on this matter a month ago, when coaches were hopeful Foster would emerge as the top option.
Foster didn’t do much in the preseason (five yards on seven carries) but the Dolphins felt comfortable with both his career body of work and his performance in practice since signing in late July. Foster has shown no effects of the Achilles tendon tear he suffered last season.
Other battles resolved ahead of Sunday’s season-opener against the Seahawks:
▪ Right guard: Jermon Bushrod prevailed over Thomas and Billy Turner, but this might be a decision made in pencil, not pen. If Bushrod, who never played guard before this season, struggles early, the Dolphins could make a move.
▪ Cornerback: Xavien Howard missed all of his rookie training camp and all but one preseason game. Still, he demonstrated more than Tony Lippett in that short period of time, and will start Sunday. “He's shown the skill set we thought he had when we drafted him," Gase said.
▪ Defensive tackle: Earl Mitchell missed the entire preseason with a calf injury, but is on track to start over Jordan Phillips Sunday. Mitchell practiced in the half-hour window open to reporters Monday.
Odds and ends
▪ DeVante Parker remains out of practice, putting his availability for the opener further into doubt. Parker is dealing with a hamstring issue, but it’s a different injury than the one that kept him out of action last month. Gase said Parker has suffered injuries to both his left and right hamstrings this year.
▪ Linebacker Jelani Jenkins did not practice either, but Gase is more bullish on his chances to play this week: “I don't want to jinx myself. ... He's on a good track right now.”
▪ Mike Pouncey’s hip injury remains a “week-to-week” issue, Gase said. A decision on Pouncey’s availability for Sunday will be made later in the week. He did not practice Monday. Anthony Steen would in his place.
▪ Gase raised eyebrows by keeping five running backs on his 53-man roster. But in truth, he “almost wanted to keep six.” He praised the group’s special teams acumen.
▪ The Dolphins were surprised that wide receiver Justin Hunter was available to them via the waiver wire, Gase said. Hunter, the Titans’ former second-round pick, sees this as a fresh start for a career that has fallen short of expectations. “It’s a whole group of guys, new team, new organization,” Hunter said. “They believe in me enough to bring me here. I’m honored.”