Continuing my 30 for 30 NFL preview event, I am previewing the Miami Dolphins positions as camp gets underway.
Today I will be looking at the defensive line.
(Remember, most of these were written before camp began.)
It’s been a rough month for the Miami Dolphins defensive line.
On July 15th, veteran nose tackle Jason Fergusen retired, instead of serving an eight game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Last week, defensive end Philip Merling tore his Achilles tendon—ending his 2010 season.
This would be a big deal if Merling hadn’t been facing the possibility of his own suspension. Earlier this month, Merling was officially charged with beating up his pregnant girlfriend, something he was arrested for back in May.
With the possibility of serious legal trouble and a serious injury, it’s not a stretch to believe that Merling has played his last game for coach Sporano and the Miami Dolphins.
So while the unit has seen setbacks in the past few weeks, there is still talent out there that can compete at a high level.
Randy Starks and Kendall Langford are expected to start this season. Starks had a great year in 2009, with his play reaching Pro Bowl caliber levels at certain points. Langford had a minor setback after a great rookie season, but he is expected to be over his sophomore slump.
While Starks and Langford will fill the starting nose tackle and one of the end spots, the other starting end may not be decided until training camp.
Marques Douglas, who was brought in over the weekend to replace Merling, is the leader in the clubhouse.
However, 2010 first round pick Jared Odrick may steal the spot before September. The former Penn State star brings a lot of size and talent to Miami, and is expected to be a star on the defensive line for many years.
Defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers likes to use his depth and rotate his players, so the reserves should get a decent amount of playing time in 2010.
Paul Soleil has been disappointing as a Dolphin, but he currently sits behind Starks in the depth chart, so he will see his fair share of snaps at nose tackle.
Tony McDaniel, who also has pending legal troubles, and Ikaika Alma-Francis, should also get playing time.