Odd that the Dolphins first depth chart of the preseason listed Randy Starks and Jared Odrick together as co-first string defensive tackles. Coincidence that any battle for position there stalled Thursday and Friday because neither participated fully.
In fact, Starks wasn’t present all Friday after he and Odrick were in orange partial-participation shorts Thursday.
Odrick would only say he “I’m planning on doing everything as planned” for playing in Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game against Dallas.
Unlike some other NFL teams, including the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl champion Giants, the Dolphins don’t address training camp injuries.
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Last year, in the Dolphins malleable 4-3, Starks started every game, either at either defensive tackle (12 games) or left defensive end (four). Odrick started the 12 games at left defensive end that Starks began at defensive tackle.
This year, the Dolphins decided to give second-year defensive end Olivier Vernon a shot as the other pass rushing bookend to Cameron Wake, at least until 2013 first-round pick Dion Jordan shows he can handle that job. Both money and performance staple Wake and defensive tackle Paul Soliai to their spots.
That leaves Odrick and Starks in one spot.
“They’re both good athletes, they both have a little bit different style,” coach Joe Philbin said. “Randy has very good power, he holds the point very well and he’s got good pass rush ability. JO’s a little bit quicker, a little bit different style of a player inside, maybe a little bit quicker on the move in terms of penetrating a gap and those type of things, but very similar players.”
Speaking of money, Starks signed his franchise tender and will make $8.45 million this year before becoming a free agent in the offseason. Odrick, a first-round pick in 2010, got his big hunk of money in signing bonus. He’ll make $700,000 and $765,000 in base salary in the last two seasons of his first contract.
Odrick’s also younger by four years, 25 to Starks’ 29. But it’s Starks who can point to durability — he hasn’t missed a game since signing with the Dolphins in 2008, going 80 for 80 and started 63 of the last 64 Dolphins games.
His 92 consecutive games played is the longest active defensive lineman streak.
His four interceptions lead all active defensive linemen. He’s been to two Pro Bowls, the second this February as a replacement for Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata.
Still, the Dolphins didn’t want to sign him to a long-term deal this offseason.
It’s the first rejection of Starks since Tennessee, which had a reputation for knowing defensive linemen and when to let them go, let Starks leave as a free agent and sign with the Dolphins.
Still, whether it’s a veteran Pro Bowler or a former first round pick, neither should hurt the defensive line’s status as the strength of the defense, if not the entire team.
“Yeah, we should be,” Wake said.
“And, you know me, I’m one of those guys on paper doesn’t do anything. Papers have never won a game. It’s not one of those things where just because we have some All-Pros, Pro Bowlers and first-rounder’s, now we can just throw our hat in the ring and everyone wins. We have to go out there and show it.”