Camp Countdown: Defensive Line

Training Camp 2009 is scheduled to begin with the first practice in the afternoon of Aug. 2, and it figures to be an intriguing summer for the Dolphins. We take a look at the Dolphins heading into camp by breaking down the team by position with an analysis of the biggest issue at each spot and a projection of the roster battles. This installment looks at the defensive line.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

On the roster: DE Ryan Baker, DE/NT Paul Soliai, DE Phillip Merling, DE Lionel Dotson, DE Rodrique Wright, DE/NT Randy Starks, DE Kendall Langford, DE Tony McDaniel, NT Joe Cohen, NT Jason Ferguson, NT Louis Ellis

Number likely to be kept: 7

On the 2008 opening-day roster: DE Kendall Langford, NT Jason Ferguson, DE Vonnie Holliday, DE Randy Starks, NT Paul Soliai, DE Phillip Merling, DE Lionel Dotson, DE Rodrique Wright

The big training camp question: Are the Dolphins going to regret having released Vonnie Holliday in the offseason, or is Phillip Merling ready to take the next step and replace him in the starting lineup?

Analysis: After spending a good part of the 2008 offseason rebuilding the defensive line, the Dolphins pretty much stayed pat this time around. The only changes involved Holliday and the acquisition of Tony McDaniel in a trade with Jacksonville. What the Dolphins really are counting on, though, is the continued improvement of their young players, such as Langford, Merling and Dotson, the three draft picks from 2008. Of course, none of that will matter if the Dolphins don't find a dependable backup for nose tackle Jason Ferguson and he ends up getting injured.

Who will make the team: Langford, Ferguson, Merling, Starks, Soliai, Dotson, Wright


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