The Miami Dolphins suddenly have a hole in what should be one of their deepest position units. The defensive line, with Pro Bowlers Cameron Wake and Randy Starks, along with Olivier Vernon, Earl Mitchell, and Jared Odrick, is an impressive grouping, and one that is capable of completely controlling an opposing offensive line. The suspension of key reserve Derrick Shelby, who has played both defensive end and defensive tackle this season, could bring into question the versatility of that group, however.
And which may be answered by Odrick.
"We've got a lot of options as we move forward," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle told reporters on Tuesday. "We have different combinations that we started to look at even yesterday and we will here the rest of the week. Because we've got some versatile people, versatile guys in the case of (Terrence) Fede, in the case of (Chris) McCain, in the case of Jared Odrick, we've got some pieces we can move around."
Fede and McCain give the team depth at defensive end, but it's more the intriguing option of Odrick that could serve as the answer for Miami. Odrick has played both defensive end and defensive tackle for the Dolphins in his career, and could be asked to move back outside, at least until Shelby returns or second-year defensive end Dion Jordan's positive drug test suspension ends in two weeks.
Odrick's versatility has always been one of his strengths. He has been a 3-4 defensive end, a 4-3 defensive end, and now a 4-3 defensive tackle. He has added weight to be prepared to play inside, and he has lost weight to increase his pass rush ability on the outside. He can be a run stopper, set the edge to force plays back inside, and get after quarterbacks. He has played on the left side of the defensive line, and he has played on the right side.
Miami has already played a 5-2 defensive scheme this season, with Wake and Vernon on the outside and Starks, Mitchell, and Odrick in the middle. Now, they could just rotate Wake or Vernon out to give them a rest, with Odrick sliding to a defensive end position.
Odrick has 16.5 career sacks, including one sack in the first four games this year.
The Dolphins may be looking to find a way to replace the abilities of Shelby with their reserve defensive ends. The answer, however, may actually be a defensive tackle.