Is Line Shuffle Done?

The Dolphins have tried ... and tried ... and tried to find the right combination on the offensive line for the last several years, even going back before Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano came to town. Is there hope, finally, that an answer has been found?

We won't know this, of course, until after the start of the regular season. But there might be more reason for optimism than there has been in a while.

This, again of course, depends on everything panning out.

Such as Vernon Carey making a successful transition from tackle to guard, a position he's now playing as of this week.

This shouldn't be that big a deal for Carey, who started 11 games at guard as a senior at the University of Miami.

You may recall that at the time of the 2004 draft there were some analysts who were suggesting that might be his best position in the NFL.

Sparano also referenced Leonard Davis as a prominent offensive lineman whose career took off after being switched from tackle to guard. Carey certainly has the bulk to succeed inside, although he'll still need to improve his consistency regardless of position.

The Dolphins also need for Marc Colombo to pan out at right tackle.

Colombo was a solid starter at right tackle for Dallas for a few years, but he's dealt with injuries in his career and he's coming off what was, by all accounts, a really poor year.

The move of Carey to guard simply won't work if Colombo doesn't play at least as well as Carey played there last year. That's the other "X" factor up front.

Then there's the center position. The early returns on Mike Pouncey are very encouraging, if for no other reason that he just appears to have the "it" factor. He's also more athletic and bigger than Joe Berger, so he clearly should represent an upgrade — and a big one — at that position.

We would caution everyone against expecting Mike Pouncey to be as good this year as his brother Maurkice was in Pittsburgh as a rookie last year. For one thing, the consensus out of Florida is that Maurkice was the better of the two. And Maurkice also had the benefit of a rookie camp and OTAs last year.

That said, Pouncey still should be a better center than the Dolphins have had for a while.

The left side should be fine as long as Jake Long's knee or shoulder doesn't become a problem. He and Richie Incognito should form a solid left side.

If the middle and the right side deliver, the Dolphins finally might be able to worry about something else on offense.

And we don't need to tell you what that could do for the rest of the offense. It actually might make all the difference for Chad Henne at quarterback.


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