EYE ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE

The Dolphins offensive line went through some drastic changes last summer when Mark Dixon was moved from left guard to left tackle. Could something similar be on the horizon?

There are a couple of interesting situations that bear watching, most notably and most recently a knee problem involving Tim Ruddy.

The veteran center did not practice on Monday as he went to have an ailing knee checked out. Ruddy has been bothered by the knee for a while and was looking to get a clarification on the exact nature of the problem.

This comes two days after Coach Dave Wannstedt indicated, in no uncertain terms, that Ruddy would be the starter at center despite second-year player Seth McKinney having a great camp.

But Wannstedt left open the possibility that McKinney could start somewhere else, with Wannstedt saying he wanted his five best offensive linemen in the starting lineup.

Remember, that was the rationale for moving Dixon last year because Jamie Nails was playing so well and needed to be in the lineup.

Well, Nails isn't playing so great this year and Wannstedt called him out during his day-after-the-game press conference on Saturday.

Now, the possibility exists that Wannstedt was just trying to light a fire under Nails, who happens to be a happy-go-lucky guy who may not be nasty enough all the time.

But the Dolphins keep raving about McKinney and from this vantage point he does look pretty damn good, so it might be that he's too good not to start.

Then where do you line him up?

Dolphins coaches have raved about Todd Perry's work during training camp, but from this vantage point he's not nearly as imposing a presence on the offensive line as Nails, so that's where we see McKinney fitting in.

Then there's the left tackle spot. Mark Dixon probably will miss the regular season opener, which puts impressive rookie Wade Smith in the starting lineup.

But what about when Dixon is healthy again? It's simple, if Smith continues to play well, you just flat-out can't pull him out of the starting lineup because he's got such great upside.

But it does make for an interesting dilemma.

And those aren't in short supply right now along the offensive line.


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