Steinbach a Steal?

Less than 24 hours before their first training camp practice, the Dolphins made a roster move that could pay off big dividends in the fall. Signed to a one-year deal was veteran guard Eric Steinbach, who has played eight seasons in the NFL before sitting out all of 2011 because of a back problem.

Terms of the deal are not known, but we can't imagine the Dolphins paid a huge price given Steinbach's back issue.

It looks like another signing along the lines of the one involving Chad Johnson in that there's very little risk for a player who could become a significant contributor.

Make no mistake, if Steinbach's back holds up during training camp and the preseason, he will be the starting right guard for the Dolphins for the season opener Sept. 9 at Houston.

Steinbach has started 124 of 125 games in his NFL career and while he's never made the Pro Bowl, he's really not far from being a Pro Bowl player.

He's also very familiar with new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, who happened to be his offensive line coach at Iowa during Steinbach's four seasons there.

Steinbach was a star in college and as a senior in 2002, he not only was the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year but also a consensus All-American.

After that, Steinbach became a second-round pick of the Bengals in 2003 when he was taken with the 33rd overall selection. Of course, one of his teammates there was none other than Chad Johnson.

Steinbach got a huge free agent contract to move to Cleveland in 2007 and continued his solid play until the back problems surfaced.

Until his signing, the Dolphins were looking at either veteran Artis Hicks or former third-round pick John Jerry as their starting options.

Hicks has plenty of starting experience, but his best asset is his versatility and his ability to be a backup at guard or tackle. As for Jerry, he's been a disappointment ever since he started 10 games as a rookie and his time on the roster might not be long.

So before Steinbach was signed, right guard was a position of concern. Again, this all hinges on Steinbach's ability to bounce back from his back injury, but right guard just might have turned into a strength.


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