Monday, August 6, 2012

Few notes from first edition of Dolphins' depth chart

Photo: photo-gator, Flickr 

The Miami Dolphins released their initial depth chart of the preseason Monday morning, and for the first time, we could see how the training camp battles were shaping out on paper. By no means is it set in stone for the regular season, but it does offer some interesting tidbits:

Has Garrard emerged as the starter?

After a strong offseason, David Garrard was listed as the No. 1 quarterback, confirming what virtually all of the South Florida media have been reporting since June minicamps. Matt Moore is listed as the backup and heralded rookie Ryan Tannehill is third. All indications are that Garrard has had a better handle on the offense than fellow veteran Moore, and this listing essentially confirms that the coaches have been seeing what the media has seen.

This is just a first depth chart and much can still change. Coach Joe Philbin emphasized as much in Monday's press conference. "It's the starting point. It's a fluid situation," Philbin said. "In no way, shape or form have decisions been finalized." He also said that he hasn't decided which of the three would start Friday's preseason game against Tampa Bay.

Is Vontae Davis a backup?

The big surprise of the day was Vontae Davis being listed as a backup cornerback behind Richard Marshall. Davis has been a starter since being drafted in 2009. Marshall, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, has been taking reps in training camp as the starting cornerback opposite Sean Smith in recent days.

It's unclear if the coaching staff is sending Davis a message to step up or if he is simply being out-played, but it seems that there is a competition for the starting spot. Regardless of who starts, either Davis or Marshall would make a strong nickel cornerback, which is a position that spends a lot of time on the field.

Is Legedu Naanee a legitimate starting WR?

When Legedu Naanee was signed by the Dolphins in April, it was looked at as more of a move for depth than for a legitimate receiver. Since then, Naanee has reportedly impressed in both the passing game and as a run-blocker, which is validated by being listed as the team's No. 1 receiver. Miami plans to work in many players and not have a so-called primary target, but it is still an accomplishment for a player who was unable to latch on with the San Diego Chargers or Carolina Panthers.

If Naanee plays in games like he has so far in training camp, all of a sudden Miami isn't in such poor shape at the position. Davone Bess and Chad Johnson will be solid options, and Brian Hartline is a likely starter when he comes back from injury. Naanee is big, fast, and is making tough catches all over the field.

Other notes:

1. The offensive line seems to be set. From left tackle to right, the depth chart lists Jake Long, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, Artis Hicks and rookie Jonathon Martin as starters. That is the group that has taken the bulk of first team snaps in practices.

2. Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones are listed as the starting safeties. Clemons had been rotating with Jimmy Wilson.

3. Little-known Julius Pruitt is listed as a top-five wide receiver. Pruitt has drawn raving reviews from offensive and defensive teammates in training camp. Miami, like most teams, will only carry five or six wideouts.

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