Player spotlight: T Vernon Carey

From time to time throughout the year, including the regular season, we'll be taking a close look at the Dolphins player, include a progress report and his role on the team. In this installment, we examine offensive tackle Vernon Carey.

Vernon Carey was one of the big disappointments of the season last year because he barely got off the bench on a bad offensive line on a team going through a 2004 season.

The argument easily could be made that Carey should have been thrown into the fire last season, but there apparently was a divergence of opinion about Carey among the Dolphins coaching staff.

So what wound up happening is that Carey's progress probably was hurt by the whole thing.

But that's over and done with.

What we're concentrating on is the present, and it's looking much better for Carey.

Simply put, he looks like a totally different player under new offensive line coach Hudson Houck. He looks more confident, he looks like he's playing with an edge also.

Now, having said that, let's not go overboard here and assume Carey all of a sudden is going to become a stud left tackle. Because that's just not the case.

Carey is a work in progress at left tackle. He will look good at times and he will look bad at other times.

The biggest issue with Carey, of course, is whether he has the feet to play the position. Things didn't start off well in the preseason as Chicago's Alex Brown sprinted around Carey to force A.J. Feeley up in the pocket and right into the arms of blitzing linebacker Brian Urlacher.

But Carey played better against Jacksonville, both in pass protectionn and in the running game.

What appears evident is that Carey might need some help when the Dolphins are facing an elite defensive end, such as the Jets' John Abraham or Carolina's Julius Peppers.

Carey should wind up in the starting lineup on opening day, and one can only hope his progress steadily continues.

But just remember that he's no sure thing.

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