Offensive line still a puzzle

With all the concern about the Dolphins' situation at quarterback, running back and wide receiver, the offensive line almost has become forgotten. But the truth of the matter is that it remains a work in progress. And it just might be about as important as anything else that gets accomplished on offense.

The Dolphins appear to have three sure things along the offensive line, with left tackle Wade Smith, left guard Jeno James and center Seth McKinney.

Offensive line coach Tony Wise said last week he would also almost pencil in veteran free agent acquisition John St. Clair as the starter at right tackle.

That leaves the right guard spot and the all-important question of what to do with first-round pick Vernon Carey.

And those are two big questions indeed.

Let's start with the right guard spot where Greg Jerman was so impressive in the early part of camp that the Dolphins decided to give him some reps with the first team to Taylor Whitley, who was a bust last year after being the team's third-round pick.

The Dolphins said they were doing that not so much because Jerman was struggling, but rather because Whitley had progressed enough to the point where he deserved some snaps with the first-team offense.

Sorry, but if Jerman was getting the job done, the Dolphins would keep giving him reps with the first team. He's a first-time starter and he needs to get as much quality work as possible.

Coach Dave Wannstedt also said last week that while St. Clair would remain at tackle no matter what, he would give some thought to the possibility of moving Carey to guard if it was deemed Carey was one of the team's five best linemen.

A day or two after that, Wise was quoted as saying he would rather keep Carey at tackle but moving him would, as he said, dilute the whole process.

How about being on the same page, guys?

The bottom line is the Dolphins need to do what's best for the team here, not Carey, so we'll side with Wannstedt on this one.

If neither Jerman nor Whitley prove they can do the job at right guard -- and that has to be considere a distinct possibility -- then Carey definitely should be moved to guard and he should start.

Remember, the Dolphins traded a fourth-round pick in the draft because they wanted to make sure they landed Carey. Well, now is the time where that move needs to pay dividends. If Carey starts the season as a backup, there will be -- and should be -- a lot of criticism directed at the Dolphins front office.

So, how has the offensive line performed in camp?

It has not been overly impressive, particularly in pass protection.

Smith, for example, absolutely cannot block Jason Taylor and other defensive ends have had big camps, such as unheralded T.J. Bingham of NFL Europe fame.

We'll know more about this offensive line when the preseason starts, but it has got a long, long way to go before the Dolphins can start feeling totally confident in it.


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