O-line gets some nastiness

Defensive end Vonnie Holliday couldn't help but laugh when he was asked about guard Frank Middleton, whom the Dolphins signed on Wednesday. Holliday is familiar with Middleton, having faced him as a member of the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.

"Frank is one of those guys that when you play against him, you remember it because he is tough and he really gets after it in there and you really have to watch your back when he's on the field because he's at it all the time," Holliday said. "I think if you talk to defensive linemen around the league he's one of those guys that you remember because you hate to play against him. But that's a plus, now he's on our team and hopefully he'll come in and contribute in a big way."

Holliday then was asked whether he ever would have used the word "dirty" to describe Middleton before the two became teammates.

"Would have I used that word?" Holliday replied. "I plead the fifth."

Mind you, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Denver Broncos offensive linemen for years have been known as dirty, yet they usually get very good results.

We're certainly not advocating dirty play, but the toughness that Middleton will bring certainly should be welcome.

Really, when is the last time the Dolphins had an offensive lineman who had a reputation as being dirty or even borderline dirty.

The one who quickly comes to mind is tackle Ron Heller, and his last season with the Dolphins was in 1995.

Since then, probably the most physical offensive lineman the Dolphins have had was Kevin Donnalley.

So Middleton, who should contend for a starting job, could bring an intangible that can't really hurt. Unless, of course, he started getting stupid penalties.

Like the one Holliday recalled when he was asked about his old friend.

"I remember in Green Bay we got an interception and our cornerback ran it back down their sideline and I'm kind of prancing down the sideline with my hands up because he scored a touchdown and out of nowhere here comes Middleton," Holliday said. "I mean, he got a personal foul on the play and I'll never forget that. I thought I was going to get him back, but now I can't."

Mind you, we like th signing of Middleton not just because he's physical but also because his arrival could allow the Dolphins to put Rex Hadnot at center, where he looks like a better option than returning starter Seth McKinney, without having to worry about who's going to line up at right guard.

The way we see it, the opening-day starting offensive line very well could look like this, going from left to right: Vernon Carey, Jeno James, Rex Hadnot, Frank Middleton, Stockar McDougle.

Under any scenario, the signing of Middleton boosts the depth of the offensive line.

And that, obviously, would be a good thing.


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