With left tackle Terron Armstead trending in the right direction, it’s likely that Miami’s offensive line will look a bit different than last week. The Dolphins have featured a starting five of Connor Williams, Greg Little, Liam Eichenberg, Robert Hunt and Brandon Shell since Armstead’s injury.
When coach Mike McDaniel met with the media on Friday, he noted that starting roles are being won at practice on a weekly basis.
“We challenge the lineup each and every week because that’s a principle of really how I want to run a team,” McDaniel said, “Where you’re not gifted anything and guys are able to either earn or keep their jobs on the field.
“So we’ve been letting guys compete all week. And what you’ll see in the starting lineup is the guys that won that weekly competition. But in that, we’ve got a lot more versatility because we have more guys ready to play than we probably did at the start of the season.”
Brandon Shell has played 59 snaps at left tackle in the absence of Armstead, a position he played just 85 of his previous 3,909 snaps at. Shell spent most of his six years at right tackle, has played 78 snaps at the position for Miami this season, and could now be competing for the starting job if Armstead returns at left tackle.
“Shell has done a very good job since he’s been here,” McDaniel said, “It’s been admirable to see how he’s immersed himself into the system in such a short period of time, which is to his credit. But what we have been – we’d be fools if we didn’t prepare our offensive line to be versatile considering what has gone on during the season.
“I think they all had a good week of practice. I think that – you’re not going to hustle me there and I’m not going to reveal who’s starting, but I do think that we’re prepared for all those guys to play. They had a good week of practice and I think those guys – whoever is starting at right tackle – will do a good job. And if they can’t finish because of injury, then another guy will step up. That’s what we’re building and preparing to do.”
McDaniel noted that he won’t share who he expects to start on the offensive line on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but right tackle and left guard, a position Eichenberg has held through six weeks, have been the weakest links on the unit roughly a third of the season.