Miami Dolphins’ revamped offensive line off to sloppy start at training camp

07/25/2014 4:42 PM

09/08/2014 7:59 PM

If the Dolphins open the season with the same starting offensive line that took the field for the first day of practice Friday, they will be using a center ( Shelley Smith) who has never played that position in an NFL game, a left guard ( Daryn Colledge) that wasn’t on the team a month ago and a right guard ( Dallas Thomas) who played three offensive snaps last season.

That group, bookmarked by new tackles Branden Albert and Ja’Wuan James, gave up many of the half-dozen-plus sacks relinquished by the offensive line on Friday. Cameron Wake beat James at least twice for sacks.

“Today wasn’t the practice we wanted to have with [fumbles] and sacks,” Ryan Tannehill said.

Coach Joe Philbin said “we had the ball on the ground way too much” and that stemmed from at least three poor center-to-quarterback exchanges, two involving Smith and Tannehill.

Smith, who expected to be the starting right guard, instead has been shifted to center in the absence of Mike Pouncey, who is expected to miss potentially seven games after hip surgery.

Smith took snaps at center during the offseason program, but his center experience during games is limited to a few snaps at Colorado State and in high school.

Smith said he wasn’t informed of the position switch until Thursday but wasn’t surprised.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Guys are ready to step up and fill in until [Pouncey] is back or if he’s not back, fill in the whole year.”

On the first day of camp, Philbin opted for Smith as the starting center instead of Sam Brenner, who took second-team snaps there.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins inserted Colledge at first-team left guard, the position he has played primarily in his career, including 16 starts for Arizona last season.

“I haven’t played football since [late December],” he said. “I have some rust to knock off.”

Thomas played left guard during the offseason program but shifted to right guard Friday partly because Colledge is more comfortable on the left side.

Albert, who was beaten by Olivier Vernon for a sack, said Tannehill is “going to get hit. It’s part of the game. But not 58 times.” The Dolphins allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks last season.

ROSS HIGH ON LANDRY

•  It was notable that the first player owner Stephen Ross mentioned during his news conference was Jarvis Landry, declaring that the rookie receiver “is going to bring a lot of excitement to this team.”
•  While refusing to offer details, defensive end Dion Jordan expressed remorse for his four game regular-season suspension that resulted from testing positive for an undisclosed banned stimulant.

Jordan, who received substantial practice time Friday and will be permitted to play in preseason games, said he learned “you have to be accountable. The older you get, the more people depend on you. If nobody can depend on you, you’re … worth nothing. I’ve got to grow up and take it as a lesson. I made a decision that jeopardized myself and the team.”

•  Besides Pouncey, Knowshon Moreno and Derrick Shelby – who both had arthroscopic knee surgery this summer – also sat out practice. The Dolphins expect Moreno and Shelby to be ready for the start of the season.
•  Tannehill, who completed only 6 of 36 passes of 20-plus yards to Mike Wallace last season, completed one of two of those throws to Wallace on Friday. He underthrew Wallace once ( Will Davis had tight coverage) but Wallace beat Jamar Taylor on a long strike in 7-on-7 drills.

“There were times last year when I could have made plays on the ball, jumped over a couple guys,” Wallace said. “That’s my main thing: coming back to the ball. When the ball is not perfect I’ve got to make plays on it.” Wallace also said he needs “to be more of a complete receiver instead of a one-dimensional guy.”

Overall, Wallace said: “I’m more optimistic than I’ve ever been. I love the environment, love the coaches. The guys are a lot more comfortable understanding their roles. [Offensive coordinator Bill] Lazor coming in with a big shot of energy, a nice variety of plays.”

•  Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and Earl Mitchell alternated with the first team at defensive tackle.
•  Best play of the day? A diving catch from rookie receiver Matt Hazel, a play covering 45 yards.
•  Asked if he addressed rookie hazing with his players, which at least one rookie complained about privately last season, Philbin said he “talked more about respect for one another” and “letting guys concentrate on football.”
•  UM assistant coaches Art Kehoe and Hurlie Brown attended practice as guests of the Dolphins.

Herald writer Jacob Feldman contributed to this report.

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