The Dolphins have had a very active past five days. They held a three day mini-camp from Friday through Sunday that featured five practices and then held an OTA session on Tuesday after a one day break on Memorial Day.
Yesterday we focused on five things we may have learned from these "non-contact" practices. Today I wanted to focus on four questions that remain very much unanswered as we sit here in early June.
1. Who wins the other starting receiver job?
The addition of Brandon Marshall instantly changed how we all look at Miami's group of receivers. No longer is the corps a below average group. Now with a legitimate number one target for Chad Henne, the Dolphins actually have one of the more well-balanced group of receivers in the league. To compliment Marshall, the Fins have Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline. Each have their own strengths and all three should see their fair share of snaps.
But which of the three will be the starter opposite of Marshall? Tony Sparano has said that "at the end of the day, the next best player is going to play." But who is that next best player? Take Davone Bess, for example. He led the team in receptions last year in just his second season. On the other hand, he's the ideal slot receiver and is probably best suited to handle that role again in 2010. But we found out recently that Bess has actually seen a lot of snaps on the outside during these offseason practices, with Greg Camarillo moving inside to the slot. Brian Hartline, meanwhile, may have the most upside of the three. He might just be a more athletic version of Camarillo - but more raw than either of the other two guys battling for the job.
Maybe the Dolphins don't even need a true number two receiver, using a committee style rotation instead. At this point, it's anyone's guess.
2. Which defensive player gets the "green dot"?
The green dot, of course, is the marking that goes on the helmet of the player who will have the earpiece inside his helmet and relay the play calls from the sideline. The value of knowing who gets that distinction is obvious - that player will likely never come off the field, playing all three downs.
Sparano said on Tuesday that he will likely decide between three players to be the signal caller: Karlos Dansby, Channing Crowder, and Yeremiah Bell. Bell would make a lot of sense since he never comes off the field. But it's rare for a safety to get that duty. Safeties have enough to worry about before the snap. Crowder had the sticker last year. But the Dolphins spent over $40 million to bring in Dansby because they were not happy with the production of their inside linebackers. And it wouldn't make much sense for Dansby not to be an every down linebacker. So I expect Dansby to eventually end up with the green dot. But for now, that's still up in the air.
3. Is Anderson really going to be the starting WOLB?
I know, I know. I'm starting to harp on this topic. And some of you will probably stone me for this because you believe we should just trust this coaching staff no matter what. But I'm still not buying this. Charlie Anderson is not a starting caliber linebacker. He's just not. And it pains me to bring this up again, but how in the world could you let Jason Taylor leave if you had no contingency plan in place if Cameron Wake proved not to be ready to step into a starting role?
Let's be honest here. The plan was to prepare Wake to start. And this regime believed Jason Taylor would have been a "progress stopper" if he stuck around and took snaps away from Wake. The plan was not to have Charlie Anderson start as the weak side outside linebacker. And you're crazy if you think it was. Now maybe the Dolphins are using this as a motivational tool to get more out of Wake. Truth be told, I sure hope that's the case.
4. Who becomes the primary kick returner?
With Ted Ginn gone off to San Francisco, the Dolphins have an obvious void on special teams as a return man. While Ginn was inconsistent to say the least, he always posed that big play threat that could instantly change a game (just ask the Jets). So who steps up and fills that void?
Kory Sheets seems like the most logical choice. Ryan Grice-Mullen, Julius Pruitt, and Taurus Johnson are other options, too. But none of those guys are even locks to make the final 53 man roster. Davone Bess and Patrick Cobbs would likely be the two "locks" who could take over the return duties full time. But neither possesses great speed and Cobbs is still recovering from his torn ACL. Needless to say, this will be one of the more interesting training camp and preseason battles to keep an eye on.