A few thoughts and insights as the Miami Dolphins head into an important week — joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for dual practices Tuesday and Wednesday and then playing against the Bucs in their second preseason game Friday evening:
About the guards: It’s pretty evident the Dolphins are committed to third-round draft pick Michael Deiter getting every opportunity to win the starting left guard spot if it’s not a done deal already.
Well, he’s not actually yet ready to be very good. But the team believes he’s going to be good as the coming season moves forward. The team believes Deiter will make the adjustment to the NFL’s faster play-speed with a little experience and will eventually let his natural abilities show as he gets more comfortable.
That’s one reason veteran journeyman Chris Reed, who started training camp as a starter ahead of Deiter, has been moved to reserve center. Reed could be a solid swing player inside. Deiter, barring a serious failure, is the future at left guard. In fact, he’s the present, too.
The right guard spot is not quite so clear. Shaq Calhoun got the start in the preseason opener after spending more than a week playing with starters in practice. But the results were kind of mixed, I’m told.
And, unlike left guard where the Dolphins don’t have a lot of other experienced options, the Dolphins can still move Jesse Davis into the right guard spot. Davis started there the past couple of years and was the starter there when camp opened.
But Davis was moved to right tackle after offensive line coach Pat Flaherty was replaced with Dave DeGuglielmo. Davis is not a bad right tackle. But he’s probably a little more proficient at right guard.
So the Dolphins have a choice: Davis at right guard and perhaps Jordan Mills or rookie Isaiah Prince (down the road) at right tackle? Or Calhoun or Kyle Fuller or Reed at right guard and Davis at right tackle?
My guess, and it’s only a guess, is we’ll end up with Davis back at right guard and Mills at right tackle to start the season.
About Mills: He didn’t have a good outing in the preseason opener. He gave up a sack. He had a presnap penalty. He was generally unremarkable. Not his best night.
A tale of two first-round picks: You probably won’t hear it from any Dolphins coach because it is too early and this staff is not the kind that crowns anyone, but 2019 first-round pick Christian Wilkins is obviously already starting defensive line material.
He had a solid -- not awesome, but solid -- outing in the preseason opener. He had three tackles. He was active. The arrow is pointing up.
Charles Harris, the 2017 first-round pick, also started the first preseason game but it wasn’t quite as positive. He had one tackle. He played hard.
But, folks, it’s not about playing hard.
Activity is not achievement.
The NFL is about production.
He needs to do better. I know, I know, you’ve heard this before.
Dual practice etiquette: The point of the next two days of dual practices between the Dolphins and the Bucs is to benefit both teams. Injuries don’t benefit anyone. And fights do not benefit anyone.
“Everything is just to get each other better, not to get anybody hurt,” Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said. “There will be absolutely no fighting. If you fight, you’re out of here.
“It’s just a matter of practicing against somebody to make you better and having good respect for each other.”
A final word: Some of you on social media interrupted my awesome meal at Bern’s Steakhouse Monday evening to ask about the unsubstantiated rumor that the Dolphins are interested in Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in a trade.
And I reached out to a team source who did not dismiss potential interest. So, Interesting. Because why wouldn’t most NFL teams be interested in a player of Clowney’s caliber? But the same source was not aware Clowney is currently being shopped.
That doesn’t mean he wasn’t shopped earlier, so there’s that.
Remember that when Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald’s name was floating around as possible trade bait last offseason, I reported the Dolphins would have been interested in the player if Donald was actually available. Except he was never actually available. So this might be similar in that regard.
Clowney is not the same caliber of player as Donald but he’s obviously a pass-rush upgrade for the Dolphins.
But here’s the problem, as outlined to me by a league source: Say the Dolphins are interested in Clowney. They’re giving up a first-round and possibly other picks to get him and then sign him to a huge deal?
Would he agree to come to Miami and sign a new deal? And would the Dolphins think it a good investment to pay multiple high picks in the current environment?
Is he the final piece of the puzzle on defense for a Miami team making a run at a championship with a great franchise quarterback?
Oh, wait. No.
The Dolphins actually have no franchise quarterback.
And to get that great quarterback the Dolphins have to hope Josh Rosen suddenly blossoms into something amazing or they have to draft a QB next spring in the first round. Except that would take a first-round pick and maybe other resources.
The same resources it would take to pry Clowney from the Texans.
So Miami’s interest wouldn’t seem logical. The league source also had not heard of the Dolphins leading any charge to get Clowney. He confirmed the Texans gauged interest in Clowney around the draft last April but didn’t think Clowney is currently available. Things can change and often do in the NFL.
But this doesn’t change: A franchise quarterback is more important than a franchise pass rusher.