How Will Dolphins Line Up?

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano addressed the media for a little more than an hour at the owners meetings on Tuesday, touching on a wide variety of subjects. One of the most interesting things Sparano touched on was how the Dolphins starting lineup would look like at this time. Not every position was addressed, but enough to make what he said a good topic of conversation.

Sparano didn't touch on the receiving corps and the offensive backfield, and the same goes for the secondary. But he did provide some insight along the offensive line and the front seven, some of which was rather intriguing.

On the offensive line, he mentioned Vernon Carey at left tackle, Drew Mormino at left guard, Samson Satele at center, free agent pick-up Justin Smiley at right guard and said there's a hole at right tackle.

In the front seven, he first mentioned Matt Roth and Randy Starks at end before correcting himself and going with Roth and Vonnie Holliday. He had Jason Ferguson at nose tackle, Jason Taylor and Joey Porter at outside linebacker, and Channing Crowder and newly signed Reggie Torbor at inside linebacker.

All of that seems pretty logical except for a couple of things, one of which we find troubling.

Specifically, it's Matt Roth at left defensive end.

No offense, but Matt Roth just doesn't look like a defensive end in a 3-4, which despite Sparano saying no decision had been made, certainly appears to be the defense the Dolphins will employ.

It's actually funny that Sparano made the statement after listing a front seven with three defensive linemen and four linebackers.

Anyway, Roth has been a disappointment so far since being a second-round pick in 2005 and he didn't exactly shine last season when he got the opportunity to start in a 4-3.

Everybody keeps raving about Roth's motor, but the truth is he's very undersized and not a good enough athlete to compensate for that shortcoming.

It's fair to question whether Roth is starter-worthy in a 4-3, but it looks like a slam-dunk "no" when it comes to a 3-4.

It would be great for everyone involved if Roth proved us wrong on that point, but there's been absolultely no evidence to convince us of that.

Truth is, we wouldn't be shocked in the least if it was Holliday and Starks at defensive end in the starting lineup.

On offense, the interesting thing is Carey being mentioned as the left tackle by Sparano. There has been a lot of speculation this offseason that the Dolphins wanted to move Carey back to the right side, and it may still happen.

But the truth is that Carey did a solid job at left tackle last season. He wasn't dominant, but he was good enough and certainly wasn't one of the problems on an offensive line that severely lacked talent.

Sparano saying the Dolphins have a hole at right tackle is interesting when it comes to the possibility of taking Jake Long No. 1 overall. In that circumstance, one wonders whether the Dolphins would start Long at right tackle and keep Carey in place, or go with Long at left tackle from the start.

Of course, there's no lock that Jake Long will be the pick, although he still makes the most sense based on potential and need.

But that's another story for another time.

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