More changes up front

The Dolphins offensive line continues to be a major concern, and Coach Nick Saban decided to try something else on Monday. So he again tweaked the first-team unit, with Vernon Carey switching from left to right, Damion McIntosh moving up to first-team left tackle and Stockar McDougle being demoted to second-team right tackle.

The changes came two days after the offensive line had a rough outing in the 17-3 preseason loss at Pittsburgh.

"It's us experimenting to see if we can get the best guys or the best combination on the field," said Saban. "It's an ongoing thing based on what we've seen in games."

You may remember that the Dolphins also changed the first-team offensive line after the first preseason game when Rex Hadnot went from center to right guard, Seth McKinney moving into the starting lineup and John St. Clair went from first to second team.

The offensive line played better against Jacksonville than it did against Chicago, but it badly struggled against a very good Pittsburgh defense.

The Dolphins averaged only 2.9 yards per rushing attempt and the quarterbacks were sacked three times, although one of those came when blitzing linebacker Clark Haggans totally beat Randy McMichael.

But another of the sacks occurred when the Dolphins let blitzing linebacker James Farrior get through, and Farrior hit Gus Frerotte as he was throwing the ball, causing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

Replays showed that McDougle is the one Dolphins lineman who got his arms on Farrior on the play, but he barely slowed him down.

"He's done a good job at times and he's been inconsistent at times," Saban said of McDougle. "Some of those inconsistencies showed up in the last game."

What's really alarming is that the offensive line isn't looking right now a whole lot better than it did last season when it was nothing short of brutal. The line was expected to improve this season because of the acquisition of McDougle as a free agent but also because of the hiring of highly respected assistant coach Hudson Houck.

But if the line is any better, we haven't seen it yet.

Saban, however, doesn't think all the switching up front is counterproductive.

"We're taking a look at it," he said. "We're trying to get the best combination. McIntosh played well the other night and he deserves an opportunity. We're going to try to see how this group works.

"We left five guys out there together for two consecutive games, and it looked like the most counterproductive thing we ever did."


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