The Miami Dolphins' 2015 training camp is two days old, with the team completing their second practice this morning. The Dolphins entered training camp this year with several potential position battles to be decided, and, after two days, we have a slightly better picture of how the battles stand. This morning, we will take a look at some of the key battles.
The two starting guards will continue to be a question mark for the Dolphins throughout training camp. The team started training camp with Dallas Thomas at left guard and Billy Turner at right guard, but rotated rookie Jamil Douglas and Jeff Linkenbach into the respective spots as well. The rotation has happened both days so far, and the team seems to realize this has to be a completely open compteition, giving the best players the chance to start when the season opens. Various media reports have all indicated the Dolphins are not yet discussing free agent Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, instead wanting to see what the younger players (Thomas, Turner, Douglas) do with the opportunity. Miami based agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Mathis, was at the Dolphins' workout today, so it will not be difficult to start Mathis talks if/when the team gets to that point. Whatever the final solution, it appears the Dolphins are giving Thomas and Turner the slight advantage at the start of training camp, and waiting to see if they can hold on to the jobs.
Miami has a hole at stong-side linebacker this preseason, and they seem to have two options in how to fill it. The first option is to keep Koa Misi at middle linebacker and have Chris McCain take the strong-side position. The other lineup we have seen already is for Misi to move back to the strong-side position he played prior to last year, then Kelvin Sheppard takes over the middle spot. It essentially comes down to a battle between McCain and Sheppard at two different spot to decide the Dolphins' starting linebackers group (Jelani Jenkins is entrenched at weak-side linebacker). The Dolphins worked McCain at defensive end in the second day of training camp, clearly showing the team is looking to make sure McCain continues to get on the field, whichever way the linebacker battle falls.
This appears to be more of a position battle than may have been expected. The Dolphins brought Andrew Franks into the offseason training program for, what everyone assumed, was a camp leg to keep incumbent kicker Caleb Sturgis from having to do all the kicking. After two days of training camp, Franks may be able to make this into a position battle. Sturgis was 9-for-11 on Day 1, so he did not have a bad day, but Franks clearly has a big leg and he was using it on Friday. Sturgis has had accuracy issues since being drafted by the Dolphins, and Franks comes to the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent having had the same issue in college. Whichever can prove they can be consistent and not lead to wasted offensive possessions in the season could end up winning the job - and Stugis may have to start picking it up if he wants to hold on to his job. The team will likely rotate the kickers by day throughout the early part of training camp.
Brent Grimes has locked down the first cornerback position. The second starting spot is open for whomever wants to grab it. Jamar Taylor, who the coaches seem to like but has to prove he can stay healthy, has been given the first shot, and at times on Day 1, it was ugly. But, no one else is jumping up to challenge him either. While the linebackers and guards are still positions to be decided, there at least seems to be some clarity in how the battle will happen, and who is in the lead. At cornerback, it is a little more nebulous. Taylor has the lead, but it does not feel like a dominant lead, and there does not appear to be one solid competitor behind him to challenge for the spot. Someone will eventually step up, but it feels like the team is still mixing and matching to try to find the way forward.