DAVIE - Are you ready for some football?
We're hours away from the Miami Dolphins kicking off the exhibition season in the Hall of Fame game, so there isn't a better time than now to provide a run down of the team's depth chart, and a forecast of how position battles could shake out.
Don't be surprised if you notice a player at numerous spots (say Josh Samuda or Nate Garner) in a unit, or positions (like the diverse Marcus Thigpen, whose roles are broken down in this feature) because that's how things really go in practice, and it shows their true value to the team.
Dolphins Offensive Depth Chart
Quarterback - Ryan Tannehill (starter), Matt Moore, Pat Devlin
Breakdown: Tannehill has made steady improvements when it comes to accuracy, attacking the middle of the field, and cutting down his turnovers. But he's still taking too many sacks, which hints that pocket awareness remains an issue. Moore has become more consistent during practice, which is a welcomed change for this seven-year veteran. And Devlin is making bolder throws than his previous two seasons with Miami. All three quarterbacks will likely be kept on the 53-man roster.
Tailback - Lamar Miller (starter), Daniel Thomas (third downs), Mike Gillislee, Marcus Thigpen (pass catcher), Jonas Gray, Cameron Marshall (injured).
Breakdown: Miller is clearly the featured back, and should touch the football 200-plus times if he stays healthy in 2013. But this will be a role-driven tailback unit, and just about everyone has a defined role but Gillislee, the promising rookie from the University of Florida. Jonas Gray is on the fringe of the 53-man roster and would need to play well during the exhibition season to make the cut.
Fullback - Charles Clay (H-back), Jorvorskie Lane, Evan Rodriguez
Breakdown: Clay, who has flashed as a playmaker at times in his previous two seasons, appears to be ditching his inconsistent ways. Lane's role is being limited because of the changes to the offense, which features more tight ends and less fullbacks. Rodriguez needs to speed up his development to make the 53-man roster because it is unlikely the Dolphins will keep two fullback/H-back types.
Tight end - Dustin Keller (starter), Dion Sims (in-line blocker), Michael Egnew, Kyle Miller
Breakdown: Keller is a solid seam threat weapon, and Sims is developing quickly as an in-line blocker. Egnew remains inconsistent in his second season, and his limited role on special teams hints he might be left off the 53-man roster come September. He'll need to perform well in the exhibition season to make the cut. Miller, who was on the 53-man roster, has talent and could extend his stay through special teams play.
Flanker Receiver - Mike Wallace (starter - injured), Rishard Matthews (injured), Brian Tyms, Kenny Stafford
Split End Receiver - Brian Hartline (starter - injured), Marvin McNutt, Jeff Fuller, Keenan Davis
Slot Receiver - Brandon Gibson (slot receiver), Marcus Thigpen, Julius Pruitt, Chad Bumphis
Breakdown: Injuries have thinned out this unit, but Wallace, Hartline and Gibson are a solid starting trio when healthy. McNutt has seized the opportunity to replace Armon Binns (torn ACL) as the fourth receiver. Thigpen's duality will benefit this unit greatly. He's dangerous when in motion. The Dolphins will spend the exhibition season searching for two YOUNG receivers to place on the 53-man roster, and another two for the practice squad. Special teams value will likely determine who those players will be. And don't be surprised if Miami claims a few receivers off the waiver wire in the next month.
Left tackle - Jonathan Martin (starter), Dallas Thomas, Will Yeatman, Jeff Adams
Left guard - Richie Incognito (starter), Josh Samuda, Dallas Thomas, Brian Thomas (injured)
Center - Mike Pouncey (starter), Josh Samuda, Nate Garner, Sam Brenner
Right guard - John Jerry (starter - injured), Lance Louis (injured), Chandler Burden, Chris Barker
Right tackle - Tyson Clabo (starter), Nate Garner, Andrew McDonald
Breakdown: The offensive line presents a chicken or the egg conundrum. Has this unit been struggling because the Dolphins defensive line is a beast, or are they struggling with sacks because Jim Turner's boys aren't very good right now? Martin has not shined as Jake Long's replacement, and his struggles could become problematic. Also, nobody has cemented themselves as a clear cut starting guard now that Jerry is sidelined with a knee issue. Samuda has been the most consistent reserve, earning a possible promotion, and Garner's versatility clearly puts him on the 53-man roster. Everything else is up for debate. The Dolphins typically keep nine offensive linemen on the 53-man roster and two youngsters on the practice squad.
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