Dolphins eager to give another look to Igbinoghene, young linemen. Here’s why

Charles Trainor/

We have learned a lot about Chris Grier during his six years and eight months as Dolphins general manager. He likes players from Power 5 schools, especially Georgia and Alabama. He likes versatile offensive linemen. He values late-round picks and has used them skillfully. He likes outside-the-box experiments at tight end.

And he doesn’t like giving up too early on high draft choices — a quality that’s understandable and pretty typical for NFL executives.

Instead of signing a veteran to open the season as the starting left guard, starting right tackle and No. 3 cornerback, the Dolphins are giving another look to two first-round picks in their third seasons (Noah Igbinoghene and Austin Jackson) and a second-year second-round pick (Liam Eichenberg).

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Eichenberg is starting at left guard and Jackson at right tackle. With Byron Jones out for four games, Igbinoghene is listed as a second-team cornerback (with Keion Crossen), behind Xavien Howard and fill-in starter Nik Needham.

The Dolphins enter the season with $7.2 million in cap space. Ultimately, they opted to give longer looks to their high young picks instead of spending that money on veterans to replace them.

Asked what gives the organization confidence in Igbinoghene, defensive coordinator Josh Boyer said: “We’ve seen a little bit of progress from a maturity standpoint in the fact he’s been able to handle things differently, let things that don’t quite go his way, he’s able to put them behind him faster.

“He’s improved on technique, working very hard on it. He’s 22 years old. He had baptism by fire early. All those experiences he has shown the humility to understand every experience can be good as long as you learn from it. We’re seeing progress. We’ve excited when he gets his opportunity to see what he can do.”


In the case of the young linemen, the Dolphins seem to believe that Eichenberg will be better at left guard than left tackle (where he struggled), and Jackson will be better at right tackle than left tackle (where he had issues to begin last season) and left guard (where his play was uneven).

Offensive coordinator Frank Smith said both players have the “skill set” to thrive in this system and believes it has benefited both of them by staying all offseason at one position after alternating between multiple positions in 2021. He said left tackle Terron Armstead’s knowledge and veteran presence also has helped them.

“Let them sink into one spot,” he said. “Try not to switch them. Left is different from right. We’ve been very pleased with the development.”

Jackson is excited about his new positoin: “I feel I’m a tackle. I know I’m a tackle!”



Jaylen Waddle (quad) and Chase Edmonds (groin) practiced fully Thursday, after being limited on Wednesday. But Raekwon Davis (knee) was added to the injury report; he was limited on Thursday.

Boyer said the fact the Patriots haven’t named an offensive coordinator (Matt Patricia appears to be calling the plays, with Bill Belichick’s involvement) is “a little bit of an unknown” entering Sunday’s opener at Hard Rock Stadium. “We expect they will try to run the ball.”

Tight ends coach Jon Embree, asked about whether the team is at a point where Mike Gesicki can play on a lot of running plays so as not to tip play calls to an opponent, said that Gesicki “has done a good job of working and improving. It’s a work in progress [in terms of adjusting to playing in-line more and blocking more]. I’m pleased how he’s gone about his business. Pleased where we are,... not where we want to be” yet.


Embree, on the Dolphins keeping five tight ends (Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Hunter Long, Cethan Carter and rookie Tanner Conner): “It shows the depth of our room. This is a tight end-poor league. Some organizations don’t want to address it and look around and say, ‘Why don’t we have any tight ends?’

“The thing Chris and Mike [McDaniel] have done a great job of building is they’re trying to get best 53 regardless of position. They felt they had five legitimate NFL players and didn’t want to let any of them go. It’s hard to find tight ends in this league.”

Adam Shaheen reportedly had a major knee injury and is out for the year.

Tight ends coach Danny Crossman said he agrees with McDaniel that coaches shouldn’t shy away from using their best players on punt or kickoff returns because of a fear of injuries.


“You can’t buy insurance on everything,” Crossman said. “You see random odd stuff — a guy drops a knife on his foot and misses 10 days. [So] you’re not allowed to eat?! It’s all trying to win the football game.”

Defensive line coach Austin Clark on newcomer Trey Flowers: “Trey’s biggest asset is versatility and familiarity [with this defense]. He plays hard and has a knack for taking the ball away.”

Running backs coach Eric Studesville, discussing his two new tailbacks, called Chase Edmonds “a complete back who can make guys miss, caught the ball well” in preseason. “I can’t wait to watch him when the lights are on for real.” A year after Raheem Mostert’s major knee injury, “you’ve seen flashes [of his blazing speed] in practice. Third preseason game, he busts out for 26.”

Tua Tagovailoa appreciates how Armstead got him in contact with former Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who stepped away from broadcasting after a year.

Armstead said “‘Hey, little bro, this is Drew’s contact. I want you to hit him up and I know he’d want to help you or he’d love to help you.’ I thought that was a cool thing,” Tagovailoa said.