A: There's no denying that Pouncey has had a rough 12 months, and that his judgment can be questions in each incident, altercation, situation. But ask yourself what crime has Pouncey committed? Has Pouncey been arrested for battery, assault, drunk driving, drug or weapons possession, spousal abuse, trafficking, driving without a license during his Dolphins tenure? Exactly what is Pouncey guilty of outside of poor decision making, and bringing bad press to the Miami Dolphins? I'd argue to you that the same traits that keep Pouncey in the headlines are the exact trails that make him a good football player. Pouncey is loyal, sometimes to a fault (Aaron Hernandez). There's no doubt in my mind that he's the one Dolphins player I'd want with me in an alley fight, whether I'm right or wrong. Pouncey has what I call "the dog," which is a ferocious mentality that benefits an athlete on a football field. It is a kill or be killed mentality. He's no choir boy, and sometimes you need people with a fighter's mentality, a ride or die approach on your team. It is my professional opinion the Dolphins need more players like Pouncey, not less. I personally get along with Pouncey because I can relate to him, and vice versa. There's no denying he's the alpha male of the Dolphins locker room because he's the toughest, most vocal leader on the team. He's the biggest, baddest lion in the locker room's jungle. Nobody elected him as the alpha male. He just is, and there's nothing you can do to change it outside of adding a bigger, badder lion. It is one of those situations where you want Pouncey on that field, you need Pouncey on that field, and every team needs players like that. The hope Miami Dolphins fans must have is that as this 24-year-old ages and matures Pouncey gets to the point where he puts more thought into his actions, decisions, friendships. Sometime outside of money needs to motivate Pouncey and his circle of friends and family. Pouncey is a smart guy. He just needs to figure out how to avoid bad decisions, and negative headlines. Maybe Pouncey won't get there until he's on his second contract, playing for his second team. But I'm confident he'll eventually get there.

July 14

Q: This has always been a football town, and we'll get back to that now that Lebron James has returned to Cleveland. But can the Dolphins seize on this window to win the hearts of the South Florida sports community? Tyler Richardson, Cutler Bay, Fl.

A: The Dolphins are South Florida's longest tenured pro franchise, and even when the Heat was on top of the sports world, local radio stations consistently talked Dolphins 24-7. Because of that obsession I have a hard time believing a winning Dolphins team wouldn't own this town's heart. We obsess about football down here in South Florida. However, the Heat's decade of success has probably shifted some young people's hearts, making basketball their first love instead of football. But that tide can easily turn back if the Dolphins find a way to become the Seattle Seahawks. All it takes is success, and a few playoff wins. The starting point in my opinion is producing a nine win season in 2014. That probably won't guarantee a playoff spot, but it will mean Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill have made progress. It will mean the franchise has produced its first winning season since 2008, and hint the organization is heading in the right direction. For years I've consistently said the Dolphins are a .500 team that could win or lose two extra games because of quarterback play (85-plus passer rating is needed), and injuries. Nothing that has happened this offseason has altered my opinion, especially when you consider last year's Dolphins got to 8-8 without a running game, a respectable offensive line, a significant amount of injuries, and submerged in a national bullying scandal. And keep in mind that 2013 team could have easily gotten to nine or 10 wins if they hadn't lost four games in the fourth quarter, or tanked the final two games of the season while a playoff berth was on the line. Better quarterback play (Tannehill, a better run game (Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller, better defense against the run (Earl Mitchell and Koa Misi), and better coaching (Philbin and his staff) can easily turn the Dolphins into a winning team that could own this community's heart.

July 10

Q: Do you see the Dolphins getting the same production out of Oliver Vernon this season? - Juan Giraly, Coral Gables, Fl.

A: I'm on record with my belief that Olivier Vernon is a rare athlete, and is primed to have breakout season that trumps last year's contributions if he can stay healthy. Vernon is bigger and stronger than last year. He's got a year's more worth of experience in the NFL. He'll likely be called on to man Dion Jordan's "speed package" role while the second-year pass rusher is suspended the first four games of 2014. Cameron Wake's knee is healthy, so Vernon will likely have a full 16 games from the Pro Bowl pass rusher, who occupies most of the double teams. And most importantly, Vernon is entering a contract season because next year is the year he's eligible for an extension. That means another double-digit sack season could turn into a $30-35 million offer from the Dolphins. Too many people underestimate Olivier Vernon's talent level, which convinced the Dolphins to select the former University of Miami underachiever in the third-round of the 2012 NFL draft. If Vernon had stayed at UM for his senior season and produced like he has the potential to there's no doubt in my mind he could have been a first-round pick in the same draft as Jordan. That's why I don't understand why so many Dolphins fans are disappointed that Jordan can't, and probably won't beat out Vernon for the starting spot. Vernon is smart, he has rare athleticism, he's a hard worker, and is committed to maximizing his potential. He's one of the team's hardest workers, and has shown steady growth under Kacy Rodgers. That's why I expect Vernon to contribute more than the 57 tackles and 11.5 sacks he produced in 2013, giving the Dolphins a dangerous duo of NFL pass rushers. 

July 9

Q: Don't you think it would be wise for the Dolphins to sign Bryant McKinnie to a one year contract since our offensive line is so thin? - Lee Mitchell, Rock Hill, SC

A: The Dolphins used Bryant McKinnie as a break in case of emergency left tackle last year, trading a 2015 seventh-round pick to Baltimore to secure his services at midseason, and that's realistically the role McKinnie plays in the NFL heading into his 13th season. McKinnie is unsigned because he's no longer viewed as an NFL starter. He'll turn 35 this September and retirement is knocking on the door. A team could get by using this former University of Miami standout as a starting left tackle, but that doesn't mean he's capable of playing all 16 games, or could effectively protect your quarterback's blindside. At best McKinnie is a key reserve these days. The Dolphins already have enough key reserves, especially after the signing of veteran guard Daryn Colledge. If something devastating happened to Branden Albert in training camp or the exhibition season the Dolphins would probably make Billy Turner the starting left tackle, returning the 2014 third-round pick to the position he played at North Dakota State. Jason Fox is also an option considering he played left tackle at the University of Miami, and Nate Garner is always in the mix for fill-in roles. If those three players prove they can't handle the left tackle task then Miami can always kick McKinnie's tires. But there's no rush considering McKinnie is unsigned, probably needs plenty of conditioning work (he maturally weights 350-plus when in shape), and would probably struggle to make it through the daily grind of an NFL training camp. I fully expect McKinnie to play in the NFL at some point this season, taking the Brian Waters route to a team once training camp has concluded. But there's no need to sign McKinnie at this point. Invest in your team's youngsters first, giving them a test drive at the that critical offensive line spot, then shatter the break in case of emergency glass if things don't pan out.

July 4

Q: Now that Dion Jordan will miss the first four games of 2014 because of his suspension do the Dolphins have to shelve the speed package? Taylor, Brickell, Fl.

A: While it is completely accurate to say Dion Jordan's versatility is the key to the speed package, which is aimed at creating confusion for the opposing offensive linemen and the quarterback, it is inaccurate to say Jordan is the only player who can serve as the "jack" in the package. The "jack" is the player who serves the "jack of all trades" role. He can rush from the edges, put his hands in the ground and rush from inside, and he can stand up and drop back to cover a tight end or tailback. Before Jordan arrived Olivier Vernon filled that role as a rookie, and he actually served as a jack at the University of Miami before moving onto the NFL. I've seen Jordan cover Lamar Miller down-field effectively, and he does have comparable speed and athleticism to Jordan. Cameron Wake was a college linebacker at Penn State and began his NFL career as a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Dolphins. Wake pulled down an interception 30-yards down-field while covering a receiver in the scrimmage that concluded Miami's minicamp last month. In my opinion it was the most impressive play of camp (if it had counted, the refs blew the whistle because of Jason Trusnik's sack). And rookie Terrence Fede also has the athleticism to drop back into coverage and stick with a tight end or a tailback. We witnessed Fede pulled down an impressive, leaping interception of a Matt Moore pass during OTAs last month. That was actually the first time I noticed the 2014 seventh-round pick, who looked like a tailback on the respectable interception return, weaving in and out of traffic. And then there's linebackers Koa Misi and Philip Wheeler. Misi spent his first two NFL seasons as a pass rushing 3-4 outside linebacker, and was a college defensive end at Utah. Wheeler served as a 3-4 pass rusher at Georgia Tech (19.5 college sacks in three years) before turning into a 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL. I've always said Wheeler is at his best when he's rushing the quarterback. Maybe Jordan's absence will allow him to do more of that. That gives Miami five versatile players - Vernon, Wake, Fede, Misi and Wheeler - who could replace Jordan as the jack while Derrick Shelby, Jared Odrick, Earl Mitchell and/or Randy Starks puts their hand in the ground and rushes the quarterback on the speed package. That's five players who can create confusion because like Jordan they are versatile enough to get any assignment done, which means there's no need for defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle to shelve the speed package for the season's first month.

July 3

Q: When Charles Clay become a Dolphins player you always said he has talent, but needs to become consistent. He finally brought it last year. Who are some of the young players you believe could have a breakout season like Clay did last year? Jeff, Palmetto Bay, FL.

A: Charles Clay had a habit of teasing us in practice, and in games. He'd flashed playmaking ability, but couldn't bring it consistently until two things happened in 2013. First, Clay was mentored by Dustin Keller, who taught him the tricks of the trade, which helped him get better at creating separation from linebackers. And second, Keller suffered a season-ending knee injury, which elevated his status with the team. Also, Clay had two seasons of experience under his belt. He was in his second season in the same offense, which means the game was slowing down for him. There are a handful of Dolphins who have flashed ability throughout the years, but haven't gotten to the point where they can be viewed as consistent playmakers. Ryan Tannehill is at the very top of that list. Some weeks he's the quarterback who beat the Jets, Steelers and Patriots in critical December games, and other weeks he's the quarterback who stunk it up against the Bills and Jets to finish the season 0-2 and squander Miami's playoff spot. Tannehill's main issue is consistency, and once he gets that he should become a top 15 passer because he has all the necessary ingredients to be good. I also believe Lamar Miller could have a breakout season in 2014 because this spread offense fits him a lot better than the one Miami ran last year. Nobody was pushing Miller last season and he took his foot off the gas. Since Knowshon Moreno arrived I can sense a difference in Miller, whose ability to get to the edge is unique. I also believe Dion Jordan has the potential to become an impact player in 2014 because he's now healthy. Jordan isn't better than Olivier Vernon, who has improved from his 11.5 sack season. But Jordan should become a key defender because of his versatility. And everyone knows I'm a big fan of Jimmy Wilson. I've seen Wilson dominate a practice. He's been a solid contributor for three years, but it is time he turns up the volume. He's a solid nickel cornerback, but I believe Wilson has the potential to do more as a starting free safety. If Louis Delmas can't stay healthy don't be surprised if Wilson takes over and balls out. So Tannehill, Miller, Jordan and Wilson are the four Dolphins I believe could have a breakout season in 2014.

July 1

Q: Tyler Larsen is the Dolphins' only true center on the roster. Can he shine? Can his presence allow Mike Pouncey to work his way back in at Guard, his natural position? What options do the Dolphins have for center moving forward. - TheDolphinTed, Oakland Park, FL.

A: Let me start out by pointing out Mike Pouncey is a center, wants to play center, and has no desire to become a guard. He made it to the Pro Bowl as a center in 2013, and plans to continue to play the position. Keep in mind a center is far more important than a guard, and as the alpha male of Miami's offensive line, and the entire Dolphins locker room, Pouncey likes his status, and has no intention of changing things. With that out the way let us address the options the Dolphins have at center for the month this team will have to play without Pouncey, who underwent a surgical procedure on his hip last week. Larsen is indeed the only true center on the roster. But he's an updrafted rookie from Utah State who hasn't proven anything so far. He needs to focus on making the 53-man roster because the odds of him getting cut are stronger than the odds of him becoming an NFL starter as a rookie. I'm not saying it is impossible, but Larsen is no layup to make Miami's 53. He's more like a 3-point shot from the corner being taken by a small forward with limited range. He can make it, but this is no gimme. Larsen has short arms, and plays a little tall, which means he needs to play with better knee bend to maintain leverage. Sam Brenner, who started four games at left guard last season as an undrafted rookie, is being developed as a center as well. However, Brenner didn't play that position in college, and snapping doesn't exactly come natural to him. Brenner also struggled as a starter last season, especially when it came to twists and stunts. My biggest concern about Brenner is whether he's strong enough to stop Vince Wilfork from collapsing the pocket. Most centers can't handle Wilfork one-on-one, but I'm concerned Brenner might struggle with Big Vince despite getting help from Miami's guards. Bill Belichick teams typically find your teams weaklinks and attack them, so you can expect the Patriots to come after whoever is playing center with all of their weaponry in week one. If I had to guess I'd expect Nate Garner or Shelley Smith to begin the season as Miami's center. Garner filled in as Miami's starting center for two games last season, and he snaps the ball well. He also has more playing and starting experience than Smith. However, Monday's signing of veteran Daryn Colledge could allow Smith to settle in at center. The Dolphins will be focused on getting the best five linemen ready to face the Patriots, and I'm guessing the best five features Smith at center and Colledge at right guard. This decision will really come down to which offensive lineman looks better in training camp, and the exhibition season between Garner, Colledge, Brenner, Larsen and even rookie Billy Turner, who could possibly push for the starting right guard spot.

June 30