Monday, August 20, 2012

Fins need right side of offensive line to improve fast


The Miami Dolphins entered the season concerned about the right side of their offensive line. After two preseason games, neither of their new acquisitions have done much to quell those concerns.

Right guard Artis Hicks and right tackle Jonathan Martin were routinely pushed back or beaten in Friday's preseason tilt with the Carolina Panthers. The pressure created by the Panthers' defensive starters resulted in sacks, tackles in the backfield and batted balls at the line of scrimmage.

Particularly disappointing was Martin, who was utterly dominated by Panthers' defensive end Charles Johnson both in pass protection and run blocking. Johnson tallied two sacks and drew a holding penalty on the rookie in about a quarter of work.

"Everyone can tell it wasn't my best performance," Martin said, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "There are little things I've got to correct. I give the Carolina defenders a lot of credit, but I was beating myself out there."

Martin's display on Friday was reminiscent of Miami's 2011 starting right tackle Marc Colombo, whose miserable play prompted the Dolphins to take Martin in the second round of April's draft. Martin even donned No. 71, the jersey number worn by Colombo last season.

It's a little early to heap on the rookie lineman, as it was only the second preseason game and he is transitioning from his college position at left tackle over to the right. But Martin showed the poor footwork and lateral quickness that were knocks on him on draft day. Miami certainly hopes that Martin can improve on those aspects of his game in the remainder of the preseason.

If not, the Dolphins will suffer from many of the same issues they had last season. The offensive line issues directly resulted in the continued stalling of the Dolphins' offense in Carolina, as four of their first five drives ended with punts after three plays.

The coaches want to give Martin as many chances to learn as possible. He was on the field deep into the second half of the Carolina game, well after the rest of the starting offensive line had finished for the day. The additional reps will help Martin develop faster and learn how to keep defenders in front of him.

“It’s frustrating to see myself getting beat," Martin said. “I’m trying to learn from it and make sure I don’t make the same mistakes again.”

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