TRAINING CAMP UPDATE: DEFENSE

As is the case with the offense, the Dolphins defense had its share of question marks entering training camp. And the first week of action began to shed some light on some of those questions. What follows is a quick position-by-position look at the first week of camp for the defense and where things stand heading into Week 2.

DEFENSIVE LINE

This became an area of concern for some after Daryl Gardener was released, but the truth is probably no unit looked more impressive in the first week of camp than the defensive line.

The star clearly was newly acquired tackle Larry Chester, who often looked like a schoolyard bully pushing his way around during recess.

New defensive end Rob Burnett also has looked impressive, and there's reason to think he could do for the Dolphins what Trace Armstrong did so well a couple of years ago.

Defensive end David Bowens, who opened so many eyes with his relentless style last year, has been at it again and he probably will wind up starting opposite Jason Taylor.

For depth, Jay Williams had a strong scrimmage against Tennessee; Jermaine Haley is back at full health this summer and has looked good; and tackle Henry Taylor was dominant in the scrimmage against Tennessee, albeit against Titans backups.

The bottom line here is the Dolphins should be fine even with Gardener now playing for the Redskins.

LINEBACKER

The one player who has stood out at this position is undrafted rookie free agent Justin Seaverns, the guy who became famous for returning to action a couple of plays after losing the end of a finger in a game.

Seaverns is relentless and he just might be pushing his way into a roster spot.

As for the starters, nothing really stood out in the first week of camp, either positively or negatively.

Among the top backups, Tommy Hendricks probably had the best first week of camp.

Until games start, however, this remains one of the Dolphins' question marks heading into the 2002 season.

DEFENSIVE BACK

Any concerns about Arturo Freeman being able to replace Brian Walker at strong safety would have been erased for anyone watching the first week of camp.

If anything, Freeman looks like he could be even better than Walker, thanks to his impressive athletic ability.

The other question entering camp was whether Jamar Fletcher could step and get the job done as the No. 3 cornerback. The good news is Fletcher looks better than he did as a rookie last year; the bad news is there are times when Fletcher still looks more like an undrafted free agent than a first-round pick.

He's a guy to keep an eye on during the preseason.

The rest of the secondary has looked fine, with Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain looking particularly impressive.

Among younger players, keep an eye on the latest acquisition, safety Jason Moore. He has impressed the Dolphins with his special teams work and he also came up with an interception in the scrimmage against Tennessee.


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