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Ask The Phinsider

I've gotten some more e-mails so let's get right to it:

I'm very surprised that Drew Mormino has been running with the first team since mini camps. I know it's still early and a lot can happen but I wanted to know if he's really that good? Is it a case of him showing more than the other guards or are they just trying to make it work because the situation is so bad on the front line? What is going on with Rex Hadnot and LJ Shelton?

Well like you said, it's still early.  You have to try not to read too much into it this early.  However, today, for the first time all camp, Rex Hadnot did play with the first unit at the RG spot with Chris Liwienski shifting back to the 2nd team offensive line.  But again, after practice, Cameron cautioned not to read too much into it:

"We're just moving guys around and trying guys at different positions," Cameron said. "We've been saying all along there hasn't really been a first unit or a second unit, and nobody with the first team should think they're with the first team and nobody with the second or third team should think that they're a second or third teamer."

As far as Mormino is concerned, he has everything that line coach Hudson Houck looks for.  He's got good size and plays with a mean streak.  And I've always thought that if he was going to start this season that it would be in place of Liwienski and not Hadnot.  But I'm not so sure what this says about Drew, either.  Is he playing because he deserves to start in this league so soon or is it because, like you said, the situation is so bad along the line?  I'm not sure and I don't think anyone else is either.  I think we're all going to see exactly what Mormino has to offer when he plays against Jacksonville's tough defensive line.

As for Shelton, I'm beginning to think that this coaching staff is really down on him.  And in reality, he isn't exactly a good fit for this offense.  He just doesn't have the speed that Houck and Cameron want in their tackles.  But then again, neither does Anthony Alabi, who is currently ahead of Shelton on the depth chart.  Of course, Cameron really likes the fact that Alabi had the best score on the test he gives his offensive players which quizzes them on their knowledge of the playbook so I'm sure that's playing a big role in Alabi's current standing as 1st string RT.

Regardless of all this, we'll all have a better handling on the offensive line situation after the game on Saturday.

I'm a big Dolphin fan and I have my fantasy draft coming up in a couple of days.  How soon is too soon to draft Ronnie Brown?  Is he a first round running back or is my love of the Fins blinding me?

Great question, as that's also something I've been wondering about myself.  The way I see it, there are 2 elite backs in LaDainian Tomlinson and Steven Jackson.  Then there are 4 that you could rank in any order.  Those are Larry Johnson, Frank Gore, Shaun Alexander, and Joseph Addai.  Now, yes, I know Johnson should be in the elite group with LT2 and Steven Jackson, but with this holdout still going on, I had to drop him into the 2nd tier.  Some might question why I'm throwing Addai in with this group, but I got a feeling he's going to have a big year, fantasy wise.  He's got good hands and great speed.  He also ran for over 1,000 as a rookie who split carries.  This year, there's no reason to think he won't get 1,300 to 1,400 yards rushing with another 300-400 yards receiving and 10+ total touchdowns.

So that brings me to Ronnie Brown.  The way I see it, the next 5 or 6 backs are all very close and you can make a case for any of them.  Rudi Johnson has reportedly been a little unimpressive in camp and the staff is rumored to be down on him a bit following a season in which he averaged just 3.8 ypc.  Willie Parker is always an injury risk because of his size and he could lose some goalline carries to Kevan Barlow.  Brian Westbrook is injury risk #1 and will likely see a little bit of a reduced workload with Ryan Moats behind him.    You can also throw Laurence Maroney, Willias McGahee, and Reggie Bush into this group.

Ronnie is in this group as well.  We all know how effective he was the past 2 years behind a poor offensive line and suffering through poor play calling.  Now with Cam Cameron, many people would say this is Ronnie's make or break season, and I agree.  I see a big season from the third year back.  How big?  That's arguable.  And I'll hold back on my statistical predictions for Brown until we do our community projections here on the site which we will start in a couple of weeks.  But I will say that drafting Brown anywhere from pick 7 on would not be a bad idea.

What kind of impact do you think Porter's injury is going to have on this defense?  Is it that big of a deal for a veteran like Porter to miss this much time in camp?

I think it's a big a certain extent.  It does seem as though Porter will be back for opening day in Washington, but he'll probably not be 100%, physically or mentally.  Physically, Porter playing at 80% is still better than Donnie Spragan playing at 100%.  But mentally, he isn't fully comfortable in this scheme yet and that might be a little bit of a problem.  He's even said himself that he can't play at full speed yet because he has to think a bit too much.  This hinders his ability to play using his instincts and diminishes his playmaking ability.

However, I'd still take him over Spragan any day.  But I don't think we'll see this Dolphin defense at its very best until a few weeks into the season when Porter has gotten fully acclimated to the system and can be the playmaker that we all expect him to be.

Well that's all I got for now.  Be sure to send your e-mails to  And keep in mind that I welcome fantasy football questions as well.  This time of year, that's what a lot of football fans are thinking about.  So be sure to send those in as well.