Pre-Camp Analysis: Offensive Line

As we start heading closer to the 2007 training camp, we break down the Dolphins position by position, analyzing what they did in the offseason and what to expect in the upcoming season. We begin our series with a look at the offensive line.

Who's new: G/C Drew Mormino (draft), C Johnathan Ingram (free agent), G/C Samson Satele (draft), G Chris Liwienski (UFA, Arizona), G Stephen Parker (undrafted free agent), Tala Esera (undrafted free agent), T Mike Rosenthal (free agent), T Marion Dukes (undrafted free agent), T Julius Wilson (undrafted free agent)

Who's gone: G Bennie Anderson (released), C/G Seth McKinney (UFA, Cleveland), G Kendyl Jacox (UFA not made qualifying offer), G Jeno James (released), G Toniu Tonoti (UFA, Atlanta), T Damion McIntosh (UFA, Kansas City)

Who's back: C/G Rex Hadnot, G Dan Stevenson, T Vernon Carey, T L.J. Shelton, T Anthony Alabi, T Joe Toledo

What happened in the offseason: New head coach Cam Cameron did some massive spring cleaning along the offensive line, particularly in the middle where big-name veterans Bennie Anderson, Seth McKinney, Jeno James, Kendyl Jacox and Toniu Fonoti all were released or allowed to leave. Much to the chagrin of Dolphins fans, no big-name free agents were signed in the offseason, although the Dolphins did use the draft to add two center/guards, Samson Satele and Drew Mormino. The Dolphins also did add a couple of journeyman free agents, guard Chris Liwienski and guard/tackle Mike Rosenthal.

What to expect: This is perhaps the biggest question heading into Dolphins training camp. As we enter July, we don't even know who the starting five will be, although it's safe to assume that four of them will be Vernon Carey at left tackle, Satele at center, Rex Hadnot at right guard and L.J. Shelton at right tackle. Veteran guard Pete Kendall is unhappy with his contract situation with the Jets, and word is he might be released; if that happens, the Dolphins definitely will talk to him and might bring him in to start at left guard. If it's not Kendall, then the logical starter at left guard would be Liwienski over Mormino because of the experience factor. Either way it plays out, it's likely the Dolphins will have a new starter at each five spots along the line when they open the season.

What we think: There's some good and bad here. First off, we have no issue over getting rid of the big-name guys in the middle because it was time for some new blood there. We also like the selection of Samson Satele in the draft because he was considered just a notch below USC's Ryan Kalil among center prospects this year. What we don't like, however, is moving Carey from right to left tackle. Carey really came on last season and was the best offensive lineman on the team by the end of the season. But there's legitimate concern about whether he has the feet and the length to make the move to left tackle. If he can't, then the Dolphins will have weakened no only left tackle but right tackle as well. It's a huge gamble indeed. If Carey is able to make the transition and provide quality work at the most important spot on the line, then the Dolphins just finally might have an offensive line that will be more than passable. But that's a big if.


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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. To read him every day, visit DolphinDigest.com and become a Miami Dolphins insider.