Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dolphins O-line coming together with FA acquistions


A week ago, the Miami Dolphins offensive line was in shambles. Days after the start of free agency, however, things are beginning to take shape.

After signing offensive tackle Branden Albert to a five-year deal at the very start of the free agency period, Miami continued its quest to rebuild its line Friday, signing guard Shelley Smith to a two-year, $5.5 million deal, according to the Miami Herald.

Smith was a member of the St. Louis Rams the past two seasons, appearing in 24 games since being drafted in the sixth round back in 2010 by the Texans.

Following his signing and before the team came to terms with Smith, Albert told reporters he had full faith in the organization's ability to put together a solid unit, which was torn apart midway through last season following the Martin-Incognito drama.

"I’m very confident that the coaching staff and the organization will find the right players that will fit the schemes and the mold of what’s going around here," he said. "When things happen, we’ll get to work."

Smith, despite prior injury concerns and a lack of experience (he's only started eight games), brings youth to the line at a bargain for Miami. He has experience on both sides of the line and was stout against the run last season, ranking fourth overall among guards according to ProFootballFocus.

The question now will be not only who comes next for the Dolphins, but how well the newcomers will perform as a unit. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked a league-high 58 sacks last year, and the team has already faced the worst when it comes to team chemistry.

Albert believes the leadership he and center Mike Pouncey can provide will aid in that process.

"It’s important that an offensive line gels, but you have guys like I said, Mike Pouncey and Branden Albert, guys that have been around and guys that have good leadership and you being a good player hope that guys come along, that’s part of the job and part of being a good player. You have to bring guys along, make sure you gel, listen to the coaches, get things right and try to get things right early and often."

Next on Miami's list is acquiring a right tackle, a market that, as David Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel points out, is quickly evaporating. Zach Streif remains a strong option for GM Dennis Hickey, though the market for him is contentious, and choices beyond the 30-year-old are becoming slim.

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