INSIDE THE DEPTH CHART

The first depth chart of the season is out, but that's just a starting point. It figures to change before the start of the regular season. For now, we examine the depth chart and tell you what it means — for now and the near future.

Let us start by saying that certain positions went totally according to form and are likely to stay that way: quarterback, left defensive tackle, right defensive tackle, right defensive end, all three linebacker spots, both cornerback spots and free safety.

Let's now examine the spots on the depth chart that caught our eye.

Wide receiver: Robert Baker listed ahead of Jeff Ogden was a surprise. Sure, Baker might have more upside, but Ogden always has been a reliable receiver. This might be an indication the Dolphins want more of a breakaway threat with the fifth wideout, but they should keep Ogden. Sam Simmons being listed at No. 2 tells you the Dolphins really like him and he probably will make the team.

Tight end: Randy McMichael is listed on the third team behind Jed Weaver, Shawn Draper and Alonzo Mayes. Not going to be that way for long. In fact, McMichael will be in the starting lineup within two weeks. Draper also shouldn't be listed No. 2 considering there isn't one observer who would give him a shot at making the team.

Offensive line: We address this position as a whole because Coach Dave Wannstedt has said he would use the five best linemen regardless of position and then slot them. That means that even though Mark Dixon is listed as the No. 1 left guard, don't be shocked if he winds up as the No. 1 left tackle.

Among those not listed on the first team right now, Jamie Nails is the guy to watch. He could be in the starting lineup before too long.

Fullback: Deon Dyer is listed as No. 2, but it shouldn't be long before newcomer Obafemi Ayanbadejo jumps over him. The only question is whether Ayanbadejo can move past Rob Konrad as well. That one won't be settled until late in the preseason.

Halfback: We close with this position because it struck us that Leonard Henry was listed as No. 2, ahead of Robert Edwards. That looks more like caution on the part of the Dolphins because of Edwards' 1999 knee injury, although Henry has looked very good in camp and will be tough to cut.


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