Five practices into training camp, and the Miami Dolphins could not wait any longer. After repeated botched snaps throughout the first few days of camp, the team had to shake up the offensive line, starting with removing Shelley Smith from the top of the depth chart. In his place, the team slid veteran utility offensive lineman Nate Garner into the starting center position.
Garner started two games at center last year when Pro Bowler Mike Pouncey was forced to miss time due to food poisoning. Now, he could find himself starting for the first portion of the year, as Pouncey rehabs a torn labrum in his hip.
"I'll play wherever they want to put me," Garner said of the move. "That's my comfort level wherever they put me. I'll be as comfortable as I can be."
The Smith-Garner swap is not the only change that happened on Wednesday. Rookie Billy Turner moved into the starting lineup during the day, while Dallas Thomas moved from right guard to right tackle. While Ja'Wuan James, the Dolphins first round draft choice this past May, is not likely to be pulled from the starting lineup when the season rolls around, the club clearly wants to give Turner a chance to unseat Thomas at right guard, as well as see how Thomas performs as the backup right tackle.
Smith could also be in the mix for one of the starting guard positions, having been slotted into the lineup at right guard prior to the Pouncey injury. Unfortunately, after six botched snaps in five practices, the experiment of Smith at center seems to have been a bust.
The Dolphins are looking for the right player to replace Pouncey, especially now that backup center Sam Brenner is sidelined as well, dealing with a right leg injury. The team could look to the free agent pool as well, having spoken to former Dolphin Samson Satele already once this offseason.
Other than the offensive line shake-up, the practice was highlighted by a 70-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill to wide receiver Brian Hartline. The receiver beat cornerback Jamar Taylor, catching a ball in stride from Tannehill 50-yards down the field and finishing the play in the endzone 20-yards later.
Taylor would respond with an interception on Tannehill on another deep pass attempt to Hartline.
Multiple players throughout the day dropped passes, as the Dolphins offense looked to increase the tempo. That increase seems to have thrown the offense out of synch, with the line struggling and the quarterbacks all missing on throws during the practice.
The Dolphins had several players sit out the workout, including the Physically Unable to Perform listed Pouncey and running back Knowshon Moreno. Joining them were Brenner and wide receiver Mike Wallace, who has a hamstring issue.
Miami returns to the practice field tomorrow morning at 8am. The practice is closed to the public.