While the preseason gets ready to wrap up and week one of the NFL regular season looms around the corner, the Miami Dolphins still have some unsettled matters at hand.
The offensive line has practically played hot potatoe during training camp and much of the preseason.
This much is sure: Jake Long at the LT position and Vernon Carey at the RT position.
The rest of the interior is still unsettled with Jake Grove and Joe Berger sharing the snaps for the duration of the preseason at the center position. As for the two guard spots it seems more likely than not the Richie Incognito and John Jerry, Miami's 3rd round draft pick last year, will assume the position as of September 12 when Miami opens up the season at Buffalo.
If Miami plans to utilize the Wildcat formation again and have success gaining "chunk yards" as coach Tony Sporano refers to them as, then the offensive line needs to be solidified.
With last weeks trade of Greg Camarillo, who had 50 catches in 2009 with no drops, a wide receiver slot has opened. Marlon Moore and Patrick Turner seem to be the front runners but none have taken advantage of the opportunity thus far. If the 6' 5" Turner could somehow step up his game it seems that the Dolphins would have a wide receiver core that would give any defensive coordinator a headache.
That is a big IF though seeing as how Turner had trouble sniffing the field last year.
Koa Misi, Miami's second round pick in April and hopeful starter at the outside linebacker postion, seems to be having trouble at the strongside position. In recent days he has been taking snaps over on the weakside.
It's the last week of preseason football and suddenly Ikaika Alama-Francis has been spotted taking first string snaps at the strong side position, once occupied by Misi.
The weakside spot has been all but locked up by Cameron Wake and his enormous amount of potential. Wake managed 5.5 sacks last year in a back up role with limited playing time and was part of the reason why Miami had no problem releasing Joey Porter in the offseason.
One of the bigger question marks of the offseason for the Dolphins was the FS position. Chris Clemons has impressed the coaches so far and needs to be effective in the passing game for the Dolphins defense to be succesful.
Vontae Davis has shown significant improvement but Sean Smith on the otherhand has been a bit of a disapointment. He didn't start against the Falcons for violating a team rule and got beat on a pass that Matt Ryan overthrew down the sidelines that would have been 6 for Atlanta.
On Special Teams
One of the more underrated aspects of football is special teams.
Ask any coach how to succeed in the game of football and every answer is the same: Win the battle on offense, win the battle on defense and win the battle of special teams.
So far Miami's special teams has been anything but special.
In the three preseason games played the opposition's starting field position on kickoffs is the 33 yard line.
Also in those three games the special teams have given up two blocked punts.
Both of those stats are problems that make fans thankful for four preseason games.
Date in Dallas
The Dolphins have one more trial before the games start to count. On September 2nd Miami travels to Dallas and both teams are looking for promising signs before rosters are cut to 53 men.
Don't look to see the first teamers out on the field for to long although the practice wouldn't hurt.
It's too soon to starting worrying but Super Bowl caliber teams are always ready come Week 1. If Miami is to get to it's first Super Bowl since 1984 then the process of dealing with blocked punts and offensive-line-musical-chairs needs to be settled sooner rather than later