DIFFERENT OFFENSIVE LINE

Injuries have hit the offensive line hard in recent days, and the starting unit might have a totally different look when the Dolphins close out the preseason against Chicago on Thursday night.

In addition to Brent Smith, who's out for the season after tearing an ACL for the second consecutive year, the list of walking wounded along the offensive line includes starting right tackle Todd Wade (ankle sprain), starting left guard Jamie Nails (bruised knee) and backup tackle Marcus Spriggs (back).

Wade definitely will not play against the Bears, while the Dolphins are hoping that both Nails and Spriggs will be ready to go. But there's no guarantee that will happen.

Coach Dave Wannstedt said Monday he's confident that everybody will be at full health when the regular season opens Sept. 8 against Detroit, but the Dolphins will have to make do with he called "a makeshift" offensive line against Chicago.

Given the uncertainty along the offensive line, there are several possible scenarios when it comes to the starting unit Thursday night.

The only sure things right now are Tim Ruddy at center, Todd Perry at right guard and Mark Dixon at left tackle.

-- If Nails can play he will take his spot at left guard, regardless of what happens with Spriggs.

-- If Spriggs can play, he will start at right tackle in place of Wade.

-- If Spriggs can't play, then veteran Leon Searcy will be used as the starting right tackle.

-- If neither Spriggs nor Nails can go, then Searcy will start at right tackle and second-year player Troy Andrew will get the start at left guard.

Got all that?

Using Searcy at tackle goes against what the Dolphins had said earlier in training camp, but Searcy already saw action at the position Saturday night against Houston.

Wannstedt was asked Monday about Searcy playing tackle, and replied: "Leon gives us that versatility. ... Why wouldn't play a guy who started at tackle if you need him?"


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