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Offensive line a mess in Miami

The SportsXchange

DAVIE, Fla. -- After one week of training camp, the Miami Dolphins have even more questions and concerns about their offensive line.

An injury to starting right guard John Jerry caused upheaval and uncertainty. Miami usually has Mike Pouncey at center, Richie Incognito at left guard, and Jerry at right guard. Pouncey was a Pro Bowl alternate last year, as was Incognito, who got to play because of an injury.

However, with guard Lance Louis (knee) still not fully active because of offseason surgery, the Dolphins are in scramble mode.

Miami has tried Pouncey at right guard; Incognito at right guard; backup center Josh Samuda at starting center and left guard, and, finally backup rookie left tackle Dallas Thomas at left guard.

Confused? So are the Dolphins.

Only left tackle Jonathan Martin and right tackle Tyson Clabo have remained at their positions.

Still, Miami spent a lot of money on receivers such as Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller in the off-season. If quarterback Ryan Tannehill doesn't have time to get those passes away, the spending spree has been wasted money.

The big question right now is whether Miami's best three-man interior combination includes Thomas or Samuda. They know Pouncey and Incognito will be part of the three-man guard-center-guard combination. That's for sure. They just don't know about the other guy.

Coach Joe Philbin, whose team plays five preseason games including the Aug. 4 Hall of Fame game against Dallas, wants to find his starters by what is usually the third preseason game (it'll be the fourth game for Miami), the one in which the starters play into the third quarter.

"There's a host of factors that go into that though," he said. " Sometimes guys are nicked up, and you can't get the right guys practicing together that you'd like to have together. I would think in my mind, if you could get it by the third game in preseason, that's excellent, but sometimes it happens sometimes it doesn't."

The offensive line issues could also slow a running game that's already being eyed suspiciously because veteran Reggie Bush left for Detroit, leaving the duties to second-year running back Lamar Miller (250 yards, 51 carries, 4.9-yard average).

Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said he'll most likely play the best five-man offensive line combination as opposed to playing the best center, the best left guard and the best right guard.

"Certainly some positions have a certain skill set that you have to have," Sherman said. "You certainly aren't going to make a right tackle who can't snap the ball at center. But for the most part you try to play with your five best players.

"Every week we rank them not by position but by what we think they bring to the offensive line, their talent, their skill and their mental toughness. And we'll play with those five guys whoever they are."

--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.
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