Causes for Concern

In the grand scheme of things, this training camp for the Dolphins has gone fairly well. Sure, there have been some injuries but no key players has been lost for an extended period of time and the lackluster performance in the preseason opener against Tampa Bay was of no great consequence, either. All that said, there still are reasons for concern. A few too many, actually.

-- We'll start win the offensive line. This comes in light of the revelation by Coach Tony Sparano on Tuesday that Nate Garner underwent surgery again on a foot last week. Depending on who you believe, Garner will miss anywhere between four and eight weeks.

Garner was among a group of players fighting for a starting job at guard, but we don't feel his loss as greatly significant in that respect because the Dolphins still have other good options.

It's at tackle where Garner's absence could be problematic, and that's because the Dolphins don't have any depth behind Jake Long and Vernon Carey.

The top two backups right now are Lydon Murtha and 2009 sixth-round pick Andrew Gardner. We're intrigued by Murtha, who looks like he could be a player, although he's unproven. As for Gardner, he just doesn't look like an NFL player.

So until Garner returns, the Dolphins have to be holding their breath on every play that Long and Carey don't get injured.

-- Area number 2 is at free safety, where Chris Clemons looks like the apparent starter.

Sparano has made a point to talk about how few mental errors Clemons has made in camp, but everyone saw him miss an open-field tackle on Bucs quarterback Josh Johnson to allow him to convert a third-and-long.

What went under the radar was a first-half play, and it went largely ignored because Sean Smith got an interception on a poorly thrown pass by Johnson.

On the play, Johnson went deep and the receiver had a good 3-4 yards on Clemons and only the errant pass prevented it from being a long gain.

Look, we'd like to get excited about Clemons, but we just haven't seen anything about him that stands out. Then again, we're not privy to the practice films or the game plans. It's entirely possible he's done a great job mentally, but there hasn't been much athleticism flashed.

From this end, rookie fifth-round pick Reshad Jones has looked like the far better athlete with the way he's broken up passes in practice. Then again, it's possible he's also been making a lot of mental mistakes.

At this point, though, he looks like he'll become a better player than Clemons. Either way, there's reason to worry about the free safety position, a position that was such a nightmare in 2009.

-- Greg Camarillo gives the Dolphins four quality wide receivers along with Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess and Brian Hartline, but it was disconcerting to see him pull up on an incomplete pass down the field Saturday night and he hasn't practiced since.

Beyond those four, there is a considerable drop-off, which is why it would hurt if Camarillo were to be sidelined.

Sure, Marlon Moore had a good game on Saturday night, but he's also dropped his share of passes. Patrick Turner, for his part, also had a nice game but he still has to show more before the Dolphins can count on him.

While it's certainly not along the lines of tackle or free safety, it's also an area that bears watching.


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