Monday, July 23, 2012

Training camp primer: 5 questions for the Dolphins

Photo: photo-gator, Flickr 


The Dolphins are a team in transition right now. With new head coach Joe Philbin bringing a brand new philosophy to Miami and the team parting ways with some staple veterans of recent years in exchange for unproven players with high upside, question marks are aplenty in South Beach.

Here's your five-question training camp primer for the Dolphins:

What will the Bell-less safety corps look like?

For the first time in nine seasons, tackling machine Yeremiah Bell will not be in the Dolphins' defensive backfield. The draft and free agency brought little help to the inexperienced remaining safety corps that struggled for most of last season.

Tyrone Culver, Jimmy Wilson and Chris Clemons have all flashed talent in their young careers but none have been consistent. An open training camp competition will determine who will line up alongside penciled-in starter Reshad Jones in Kevin Coyle's dual free safety system.

Can Miami get by with its current receivers?

The Dolphins are notably weak at the wide receiver position. Though the West Coast system Philbin is installing will rely less on individual receivers, the Dolphins need more than a couple of these young, unproven wideouts to establish themselves as viable options.

Journeymen Chad Ochocinco and Legedu Naanee, as well as tenured Dolphins Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, will be relied on to produce in 2012 until a younger player emerges.

Will the right side of the line improve?

An understated factor in Miami's offensive struggles last season was the poor play from the right side of the line. Marc Colombo and Vernon Carey were both past their primes and played like it.

2012 second-round pick Jonathon Martin projects to replace Colombo at right tackle, and right guard will be manned by either John Jerry, Nate Garner, or early favorite Artis Hicks.

Is the pass-rush formidable outside Cameron Wake?

With the retirement of the great Jason Taylor and departure of the underrated Kendall Langford in free agency, the Dolphins have some pass rushing production to replace.

2010 first-round pick Jared Odrick appears ready to blossom in his first season as a full-time starter, and rookie Olivier Vernon is expected to handle Taylor's situational pass rushing role.

Who is the quarterback?

The quarterback is the most important training camp question mark, which is a statement that has been true in Miami for thirteen consecutive offseasons. The long-term solution Ryan Tannehill is likely looking at a season holding a clipboard, but Miami has a pair of capable short-term signal-callers in Matt Moore and David Garrard.

Both are talented and have proven that they can lead a team, but they have very different skill sets, and the player who runs Philbin's West Coast offense the best in camp and preseason action will be starting Week 1 in Houston.

Follow Sean @seanldonovan
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily