Camp preview: Defensive line

The Dolphins will open their 40th training camp when they hold the first practice on Monday, July 25 at the team's training facility in Davie. We preview what should be an interesting camp under new head coach Nick Saban with a position-by-position analysis of the team heading into camp. In this installment, we look at the defensive line.

Defensive linemen on the roster: DE David Bowens (6th season), DE Vann Brown (rookie), DE Kevin Carter (11th season), DT Larry Chester (8th season), DE John Denney (rookie), DE Ronald Flemons (4th season), DE Vonnie Holliday (8th season), DT Reggie Rhodes (1st season), DT Dario Romero (4th season), DE Matt Roth (rookie), DT Josh Shaw (3rd season), DE Chris Solomona (rookie), DE Jason Taylor (9th season), DT Orrin Thompson (rookie), DT Keith Traylor (15th season), DT Kevin Vickerson (rookie), DE Matt Walters (2nd season), DT Manuel Wright (rookie), DT Jeff Zgonina (13th season).

Summary: The Dolphins have added more big names along the defensive line than anywhere else on the roster since the end of last season, the additions including veterans Kevin Carter, Vonnie Holliday and Keith Traylor as well as rookies Matt Roth and the latest, supplemental draft selection Manuel Wright. The Dolphins defense is expected to feature different looks this season, with both the 4-3 and 3-4 alignments being used. That means that the defensive linemen will have to handle different roles. For example, Jason Taylor will be lining up at defensive end in the 4-3 on one play, then could find himself at outside linebacker in a 3-4 on the next down. One thing is certain, the Dolphins certainly appear to have enough bodies on the defensive line (19) to come up with a pretty good rotation.

The battles: Oh, there will be some fun battles here, both for starting jobs and for roster spots. Let's start with the starting jobs. Assuming the base defense will be a 4-3 -- and there's no guarantee of that at this point -- it would figure that the two ends would be Taylor and Carter. The two tackle spots, however, aren't quite as settled, with Larry Chester, Keith Traylor and Vonnie Holliday three solid options inside. And veteran Jeff Zgonina also could be in the mix at tackle. As far as roster spots, the six previously mentioned players should make the roster and the Dolphins figure to keep three or more additional linemen. Among those with the best chance to make the 53-man roster are Wright, second-round pick Matt Roth and returning starter David Bowens.

Projected starters: Jason Taylor, Kevin Carter, Larry Chester, Keith Traylor

Projected on the 53-man roster: Taylor, Carter, Chester, Traylor, Jeff Zgonina, Manuel Wright, Dario Romero, Vonnie Holliday, David Bowens, Matt Roth


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