The Dolphins knew they had to get a strong defensive line during the off-season and they made sure to do so during the draft, when they acquired defensive tackle Jared Odrick (Penn State) in the first round.
The Dolphins used the later rounds of the draft and off-season trades to strengthen the linebacker and corner back positions. But one position seems to have been left unceremoniously ignored: Free safety.
The Dolphins currently have Reshad Jones, Tyron Culver, Chris Clemons, and Nate Ness vying for the free safety position.
Yeremiah Bell has played consistently with the Dolphins in the strong safety position.
Bell has been one of the Dolphins stronger defenders in the past couple years despite having some troubles with injuries. In 2009 he had 114 tackles and three interceptions.
The Dolphins drafted Reshad Jones in the fifth round from Georgia. He comes in as a strong safety better known for his work at the line of scrimmage than in pass coverage.
Jones will undoubtedly be important in the starts he has against division rivals like the Jets, who are a strong running team. His troubles in pass coverage and speed could prove dire when playing against players like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, however.
Tyron Culver comes into his third year with the Dolphins, although he’s never gotten regular playing time with the team.
During the 2009 season, Culver had only 19 tackles and one interception. He has mainly seen action in special teams, where he recorded 14 tackles last year.
Chris Clemons played in a reserve role for most of last year, starting in only two games. He had six tackles and zero interceptions. He is expected to have a much greater impact in his second year with the dolphins.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, he has fought hard for a starting position during training camp.
Nate Ness is in his second year with the Dolphins. He has little experience in the league and is being converted towards a free safety role during his off-season play with the Dolphins’ second team.
He will most likely finish off the off-season with a full transition to the corner back position.
Clemons is the most likely to find playing time with Bell during the season, as he has shown the most during the off season and was consistent in his two starts last season.
The Dolphins are risking a lot if they do not try and bring in a veteran player to help in the free safety position.
They are adding a lot of pressure for Bell in the back and for linebackers and defensive line at the line of scrimmage if there isn’t a consistent, fast free safety to help hold off the run.
The Rams’ free safety O.J Atogwe becomes available today and the Dolphins are likely to pursue him if the asking price does not become too high.
The Dolphins must understand that they may be too weak and inexperienced in the position right now to not make an honest attempt to get him.
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