NFL Nation: Dallas Thomas

Miami Dolphins inactives

December, 28, 2014
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins will host the rival New York Jets (3-12) at 1 p.m. ET at Sun Life Stadium.

Here are the Dolphins players you will not see in Sunday's game: Analysis: There are not any major surprises for Miami. Thomas injured his foot and will miss his second straight game, despite practicing throughout the week. This will give backup Jason Fox his second start and another audition before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Receiver Percy Harvin and center Nick Mangold are the biggest inactives Sunday for the Jets.

Vikings vs. Dolphins preview

December, 18, 2014
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When: 1 p.m. ET Sunday. Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens. TV: Fox.

Two teams out of playoff contention will meet in South Florida on Sunday when the Miami Dolphins (7-7) host the Minnesota Vikings (6-8).

These are two clubs who represent the up-and-down middle class in the NFL. Despite good moments, neither team has been able to reach the consistency it takes to make the postseason.

Who will come out on top? ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker and NFL Nation columnist Kevin Seifert breakdown the matchups:

Walker: Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a South Florida native with plenty of interest out of Miami. How is his development in his rookie season?

Seifert: He has really come on, via a steady ascendance that makes him without question the best of the rookie quarterbacks in 2014. The Vikings' major goal for Bridgewater's first season was to keep him from getting beat up and beat down. Coach Mike Zimmer was especially cognizant about not ruining him behind a bad offensive line or on a bad team or putting him on the field before he was ready to succeed. That's why the Vikings began the season with Matt Cassel as the starter.

Bridgewater got on the field earlier than they expected because of Cassel's Week 3 injury, and after some expected early struggles -- most notably on deep accuracy -- Bridgewater has gotten on a nice little run. The Vikings are 4-3 in his past seven starts, he has completed at least 70 percent of his passes in his past three starts and thrown for at least 300 yards in his past two. Most recently, the Vikings trusted him in a pass-first game plan against the Detroit Lions' stout defense. He completed 31 of 41 passes for 315 yards, the highest completion percentage for a rookie in a game when throwing at least 40 passes in NFL history. People in South Florida know Bridgewater has a calm personality that allows him to navigate pressure situations well. The early returns are that the Vikings have found their starter for a long time to come.

The Vikings are protecting Bridgewater with three backups on their offensive line, at right tackle, right guard and left guard. Are the Dolphins still as strong up front defensively as they were earlier this season?

Walker: It's an interesting question, because a month ago I would have pegged this as a huge advantage for Miami. However, its defensive line has mostly disappeared the past several games. It has been a mystery here in Miami, because that was the strength of the team in the first half of the season. The Dolphins got zero sacks on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady last week and he put up 41 points. Before that, Miami allowed 661 rushing yards in a three-game stretch from Weeks 12-14. Teams have pretty much done what they wanted against Miami's defense, which at one point was ranked as high as No. 2 in the NFL. The Dolphins are running on fumes, and it is most evident on the defensive line. On paper, it's still an advantage for Miami, but the group must prove it on the field.

Although it doesn't always show in the standings, the Vikings are playing solid football in the past month. What's led to their recent surge?

Seifert: A few things, with Bridgewater's development being the most significant. When you're getting production from that position, everything else is a little easier. It took some time for the Vikings to recover schematically from the suspension of tailback Adrian Peterson. They've used a backfield-by-committee system, getting 538 yards from rookie Jerick McKinnon, who is now on injured reserve, and 421 yards (and seven touchdowns) from Matt Asiata. Dolphins fans can expect to see a mix of Asiata, veteran Ben Tate -- claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Browns -- and Joe Banyard. Bridgewater has benefited from the emergence of receiver Charles Johnson, who was signed off the Browns' practice squad earlier this season. Johnson has replaced the disappointing Cordarrelle Patterson in the starting lineup and has 19 receptions for 355 yards in his past five games. Finally, the Vikings' defense has begun taking the form Zimmer wanted to see when he took over the team this year. Zimmer still calls the defensive signals, and he has helped mold a pair of youngsters -- defensive end Everson Griffen (12 sacks) and cornerback Xavier Rhodes -- into frontline players. The Vikings' three losses over the past two months have all been by one score or less. Even after losing Peterson and Cassel in the first month of the season, they've got a chance to finish .500.

How should we expect the Dolphins to respond emotionally in this game? They're all but eliminated from the playoffs. Do you think they'll pack it in? Will they fight for Joe Philbin's job? Or has the decision already been made?

Walker: I will start with the last question. The decision has not been made officially on Philbin, but the gears are beginning to click in motion. The past two weeks were an eye-opener for the decision-makers in the organization. The team didn't show up in two huge games against the Baltimore Ravens and Patriots. Philbin now has a three-year record of 22-24 and hasn't made the playoffs. His teams play their worst football when it matters most, in key games late in the season. That's not good enough for Miami owner Stephen Ross.

The best Philbin can do is prove he can motivate the Dolphins to play well in these final two games when nothing is at stake. That will be a challenge in itself. A 9-7 season at least gives Philbin a leg to stand on, although I'm not sure that will be enough without making the playoffs. I expect Miami to play for Philbin because he is well-liked in the locker room. But if things get really difficult in this game -- like it has the past two weeks against the Patriots and Ravens -- I'm curious to see how the players respond.

I would be remiss if I didn't ask about the Peterson controversy. Has that worn off on the team, even with new details emerging?

Seifert: I think it did hang over the locker room and the coaching staff for a long time, mostly because there were several stops along the way when it seemed as if Peterson's return was imminent. There were some genuinely shocked players and coaches when the final ruling came down that Peterson would not return this year. Now, I think everyone is past it. The appeals, accusations and lawsuits are all essentially irrelevant to the Vikings' 2014 season. Peterson isn't going to be on the field this season, and he might never be in a Vikings uniform again. My perception is that most of the players and coaches who will decide the outcome of this game Sunday are well beyond worrying about it.

The Vikings are tied for sixth in the NFL with 38 sacks but Ryan Tannehill has taken the sixth-fewest sacks in the league. What has been the key for the Dolphins' pass protection, and do you think it'll hold up against the Vikings?

Walker: The numbers are a bit skewed due to a stellar first half of the season. The Dolphins' pass protection was very good when Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert was healthy and guarding Tannehill's blindside. A strong case can be made that Albert was Miami's first-half MVP. However, a season-ending knee injury to Albert exposed some holes on Miami's offensive line. Rookie Ja'Wuan James moved from right tackle to left tackle and the struggling Dallas Thomas was put at right tackle. Since Albert went down in Week 10, Miami has allowed 21 quarterback sacks in five games. That's a little more than four sacks per game. The Patriots and Ravens registered 10 combined sacks. I do expect the Vikings to get pressure on Tannehill.

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The mood in the Miami Dolphins' locker room was as sullen as it has been all season after Sunday's 28-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle took a couple of strolls through the room with a clenched jaw and a grimace on his face. Usually talkative receiver Mike Wallace was mostly at a loss for words. Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake called Sunday's poor performance in a huge game "mind-blowing."

The relative silence sent a loud message: A once-promising season is heading toward another disappointing finish.

This year is playoffs-or-bust for the Dolphins (7-6). They began Sunday in possession of the final wild-card spot in a crowded AFC race. Now they sit behind Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Houston, and there is no reason to believe Miami has what it takes to make the postseason -- not after jumping out to a 10-0 lead over the Ravens at home only to be outscored 28-3 the rest of way.

Next week Miami will travel to face the AFC East-leading New England Patriots. Another loss would drop the Dolphins to .500.

"We knew what it was," Wallace said of the importance of Sunday's game. "We had it in our hands again, controlling our own destiny. Now we have to leave it up to other people and try to win out."

The Ravens exposed many of the Dolphins' flaws. Baltimore, first and foremost, won the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had little time to throw and was sacked a season-high six times. Three of those sacks were allowed by inexperienced right tackle Dallas Thomas, a recent replacement following the season-ending knee injury to Pro Bowl veteran Branden Albert. Baltimore rotated outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil (3.5 sacks) and Terrell Suggs (1.5 sacks) to wear out Thomas.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Tannehill was sacked or under duress on 12 of his 33 dropbacks (36.3 percent). That helped Baltimore hold the Dolphins to just three points in the final three quarters.

The Ravens also rushed for 183 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. Miami's defense was consistently pushed off the ball for the third straight week and has allowed 661 rushing yards in that span.

Miami is being dominated physically at the most crucial point of the season. That is not how you win big games in December.

"I guess the most frustrating thing is it's not inability," Wake said. "You've watched us play for 10 games or the first half [of the season]. We can get the job done. Whatever inconsistency there is, we have to put a stop to it really fast."

The reality is it's too late. Including last year's two-game collapse to end the season, Miami now is 1-3 in its past four December games. This is the time of year the Dolphins fizzle.

I asked Ravens veteran receiver Steve Smith, who has played in one Super Bowl and two NFC Championship Games, what it takes to win these big games late in the season.

"You got to play harder than the other guy," Smith said. "Your will and your desire in what you want to do has to be better than what that guy has."

The Dolphins have talent, but they lack the extra gear it takes to get over the hump late in the season. They most likely will watch the playoffs from home in January for the sixth straight season.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- It was a rough day for Miami Dolphins' second-year right tackle Dallas Thomas. He gave up three of the team's six sacks in a 28-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Thomas
Baltimore rotated sides with stud outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, who combined for five sacks total. The pair wore out the inexperienced Thomas, who allowed three total sacks to Suggs and Dumervil.

“Personally, it’s bad,” Thomas said of his performance at right tackle. “But as a team we just have to look at the film and see what went wrong.”

Baltimore (8-5) recorded six sacks total, which was the most allowed by Miami (7-6) all season. As expected, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill struggled with little protection. He threw for 227 yards and one touchdown.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, he was sacked or pressured on 12 of his 33 dropbacks (36.3 percent). It was reminiscent of the 2013 season when Miami allowed a franchise-record 58 quarterback sacks.

Thomas was inserted into the starting lineup three weeks ago following the season-ending knee injury to Branden Albert. Thomas held his own the first two games. But the Ravens had the talent on the defensive line to exploit the matchup.

“You have to give credit to their guys,” Tannehill said. “They did a good job of getting around the edge. They were sinking underneath the deeper throws that would be first or second in my progression. They were doing a good job of getting to me.”

Dolphins' Mike Pouncey proud of O-line

November, 14, 2014
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 22-9 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Pouncey
Proud Pouncey: It wasn't the cleanest performance, but Dolphins guard Mike Pouncey said in the locker room that he was proud of their makeshift offensive line that included three players in new positions. Rookie Ja'Wuan James moved to left tackle to replace the injured Branden Albert, while Dallas Thomas played right tackle and Shelley Smith started at left guard. Miami allowed five quarterback sacks and has a lot of work to do to improve. But it was a win against Buffalo and not the disaster some expected. "They did a really good job ... put in roles they're really not comfortable with," Pouncey said. "I'm very proud of those guys."

Davis on crutches: Miami backup cornerback Will Davis was on crutches and had his left knee wrapped in a brace after suffering a second-half injury. He did not return. Davis will have further tests on his knee Monday to determine if the injury is long-term.

Rest ahead: After playing two games in five days, several Dolphins players said they were looking forward to some rest. Miami head coach Joe Philbin said he will give his team the weekend off to heal before returning to the practice field in preparation for its next game against the Denver Broncos.

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins lost Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert, arguably their most consistent offensive player, on Sunday. Miami will put Albert on season-ending injured reserve; according to a source, he has dual ACL and MCL tears in his right knee.

Albert's recovery time is expected to be nine to 12 months. But the Dolphins (5-4), who are battling for a playoff spot in the AFC, cannot afford to sulk. They have the Buffalo Bills (5-4) visiting Sun Life Stadium on Thursday in a big game for both teams.

James
The spotlight now is on first-round pick Ja'Wuan James. He thrived at right tackle in the first nine games and developed into one of the NFL's top rookies. But James' responsibility becomes even greater as he protects Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill's blind side for the remainder of the season.

James must make some important adjustments while going from right tackle to left tackle. For starters, he will face most opponents' best pass-rushers on the left side. There are also subtle things mechanically that James must adjust to on a short week.

James' playing style fits at left tackle, although he played mostly on the right side in college at Tennessee. James' pass protection is ahead of his run blocking at this stage in his career. Coach Joe Philbin also described James on Monday as a "good athlete" and "smart guy." Miami will need all those traits to show in the final seven games.

Miami's entire offensive line will be remade with Albert sidelined for the season. In addition to James moving to left tackle, Dallas Thomas moved to right tackle and Shelley Smith moved to left guard. Philbin said that is the lineup you will likely see Thursday against Buffalo, with perhaps a wild card being the health of Daryn Colledge, who missed the past two games with a back injury.

But the most important piece on Miami's offensive line is James, who must rise to the occasion if the Dolphins expect to make a playoff push in the season's second half.

W2W4: Miami Dolphins

August, 23, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins (1-1) will host the Dallas Cowboys (0-2) on Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.


1. Offensive production: The Dolphins' offense under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has shown a mixed bag during the first two weeks of the preseason. The passing game and tempo have been upgrades from what we've seen last season. However, the running game is virtually non-existent thus far. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has completed 75 percent (15-for-20) of his passes and is playing faster and more decisive football. The passing game under Lazor has been sharp. But the offensive line is getting little push in the running game. The Dolphins had minus-5 yards in the first half last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and must improve their production on the ground.

2. Healthy returns: Running back Knowshon Moreno (knee) and tight end Charles Clay (knee) have practiced all week for the Dolphins. There is a good chance one or both will make their 2014 debut Saturday against Dallas. Moreno and Clay are expected to play major roles in Miami's offense this season. Clay was a steady force over the middle last year with 69 receptions. Moreno also is coming off his first 1,000-yard rushing season in 2013 with the Denver Broncos. Clay, in particular, said he feels ready to play against Dallas. But the final call Saturday will be up to the medical staff.

3. Change at right guard: Free-agent signing Shelley Smith will get his first start in a Dolphins uniform Saturday at right guard. Smith replaces the struggling Dallas Thomas, who was manhandled last week by Tampa Bay Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Right guard is the final spot on the offensive line that is still up for grabs. Smith, who signed a $5.5 million contract in March, has a chance to solidify that spot with a strong performance against the Cowboys.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins will produce a rarity in the NFL when they take the field Sept. 7 for their regular-season opener against the reigning AFC East champion New England Patriots. Miami will boast five new starters on the offensive line, which has raised some concerns in South Florida.

[+] EnlargeDallas Thomas
Alan Diaz/AP PhotoThe Dolphins will be counting on second-year guard Dallas Thomas to bolster the offensive line.
Granted, last year’s offensive line struggled mightily and set a franchise record for quarterback sacks allowed in 2013 with 58. But wholesale changes at every position present new concerns about continuity.

Although things could change due to injuries and competition, Miami’s new starting five is rookie right tackle Ja'Wuan James, right guard Dallas Thomas, center Shelley Smith, left guard Daryn Colledge and left tackle Branden Albert.

After three days of practices, Miami’s new offensive line has struggled against its veteran defensive line in team drills. There have been multiple sacks allowed. Sometimes the running game is inconsistent. On the first day, there were two fumbled snaps between Smith and starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The Dolphins have about five weeks and four exhibition games to iron things out before the regular season.

“We’re always attempting to get the five best players that we possibly can out on the field at one time,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said over the weekend. “I will tell you that we’re going to be looking at a number of combinations.”

The Dolphins are without Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, thanks to hip surgery this summer. He's expected to miss anywhere between four-to-eight games. Pouncey was the only holdover from last season’s starting lineup.

But perhaps the biggest concern is the inexperienced right side of the offensive line with Thomas and James. They are former college teammates at the University of Tennessee, but neither player has started an NFL game. Opponents certainly will attack this area to see if they can rattle Miami's offense.

"No concern," Albert said bluntly of the right side of the line. "We’re professionals. I don’t care how young you are, we’re professional athletes. Each and every day they’re getting better, we’re getting better, and that’s all we need to worry about."

Leftover notes from Dolphins OTAs

June, 13, 2014
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DAVIE, Fla. -- The 2014 organized team activities (OTAs) are coming to a conclusion this week for the Miami Dolphins. There will be mandatory minicamp next week. Then, the Dolphins will take more than a month off before training camp.

ESPN.com’s Dolphins page has attended every OTA open to the media. Here are some takeaways from the past three weeks:
  • Thomas
    The surprise player from spring practices has been second-year offensive lineman Dallas Thomas. The former third-round pick didn’t contribute anything during his rookie season. Not much was expected of Thomas, especially after the Dolphins drafted a similar player in 2014 third-round pick Billy Turner. But Thomas showed up for offseason workouts in good shape and is flashing good athleticism. He’s done enough to earn the inside track on the starting left guard position next to Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert. Thomas’ next task is to hold off Turner when the pads come on in training camp and the preseason.
  • Speaking of Turner, early impressions are he still has a lot to learn. Turner played left tackle last season at North Dakota State and is still working on improving leverage. From what I’ve seen, Turner still stands a little high at times and looks like a left tackle playing guard. Turner also needs to work on his punch. These are things that should improve with experience. But Turner is running out of time if he wants to be a Week 1 starter.
  • Thigpen
    The more practices that go by, the more I think Dolphins return specialist Marcus Thigpen won’t make the 53-man roster. Thigpen has been Miami’s primary kick returner the past two seasons. But with rule changes and less emphasis on kick returns, Thigpen’s value has decreased and he doesn’t offer much in other areas. The Dolphins have moved Thigpen from running back to wide receiver this offseason, but Thigpen isn’t making plays. If Miami can find a decent alternative to return kicks this preseason, Thigpen could be on the outs. Other possibilities include receivers Damian Williams and rookie Jarvis Landry.
  • Bill Lazor’s new offense is getting rave reviews in Miami. Many of the concepts the Dolphins’ first-year offensive coordinator is implementing make sense and are an improvement over last season’s offense under Mike Sherman. But one thing I noticed that could be risky is the amount of pressure Lazor’s scheme puts on the offensive line. There are a multitude of passing plays that involves four and five options. More eligible receivers mean less protection for the quarterback. Lazor is relying on his quarterback to make quick reads and get rid of the football, which is an area Ryan Tannehill must improve.
  • Finnegan
    Cortland Finnegan is starting to establish his role on the defense. He currently has the inside track to start at cornerback opposite Pro Bowler Brent Grimes. But Finnegan also is getting a look inside as the nickel cornerback on obvious passing downs. Finnegan is a physical cornerback, and the Dolphins believe those traits can help get the defense off the field on third down. Other possibilities for the nickel corner include versatile defensive backs Jimmy Wilson and Michael Thomas.

The Dolphins will wrap up their offseason program with mandatory minicamp June 17-19.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins second-year cornerback Jamar Taylor looks quicker and more explosive than he did a year ago. For the first time in his NFL career, he enters offseason workouts 100 percent healthy.

The Dolphins drafted Taylor in the second round last year despite a pre-draft kidney ailment and subsequent sports hernia that kept him out for most of the offseason. Taylor spent the regular season fighting off injuries and trying to earn playing time. He finished with just 40 snaps on defense.

[+] EnlargeJamar Taylor
Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SportsJamar Taylor is looking to bounce back from an injury-marred rookie season.
But Taylor enters his second year with the Dolphins a more confident player. Taylor has a chance to earn a role on the defense and is out to prove he can live up to his pre-draft billing.

“It's getting there. He's definitely coming back out,” Taylor said recently during organized team activities (OTAs). “That person ya'll seen talk a lot, it's getting there. But I got to learn. I got to crawl before I can walk. I'm out here trying to pick these older guys' brain.”

Taylor is surrounded by veterans in the secondary such as safety Louis Delmas and cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan. Finnegan happens to be Taylor's biggest competition for a starting job this summer. The Dolphins are having a three-way battle between Taylor, Finnegan and Will Davis for the right to start at cornerback opposite Grimes.

If Taylor can win a starting job -- or even the nickel cornerback role -- it will be a sizable turnaround from last season.

“I think it's more motivation for myself. I have high expectations of myself,” Taylor said. “I can't really worry about what everyone else thinks, as long as I get the respect of my teammates, my coaches and myself.”

Last year wasn't just a poor start for Taylor. The entire 2013 Dolphins draft class had little production. Miami had the third-fewest snaps (1,126) by a rookie class in the NFL last year. Only the AFC champion Denver Broncos (1,066 snaps) and Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (1,111 snaps) had less production from their rookies.

The Dolphins are hoping players such as Taylor, Davis, defensive end Dion Jordan and guard Dallas Thomas all can make the jump in Year 2 and find significant roles on the team this season.

“I think it was a learning experience for all of us,” Taylor said. “We all came here on our high horse and we got humbled real quick. I think we got to keep working. I expect all of us to do good, keep learning, play fast and compete.”
DAVIE, Fla. – The mammoth size was apparent on the first day of Miami Dolphins rookie camp. So was the youthful exuberance.

First-year offensive linemen Ja'Wuan James and Billy Turner looked the part of two major building blocks in Miami's 2014 draft class. The Dolphins invested first- and third-round picks, respectively, in hopes that James and Turner can fix Miami's struggling offensive line.

[+] EnlargeJa'Wuan James, Billy Turner
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeRookies Ja'Wuan James, left, and Billy Turner are aiming to be immediate contributors on Miami's rebuilt offensive line.
James and Turner have the potential to become Miami's dynamic rookie duo in the trenches. Both were in shape and ready to begin competing for starting jobs when the veterans returned for organized team activities next week.

“It felt good to get back out here,” James said after Friday's practice. “I haven’t played football in a long time. We've been practicing to be track stars through this whole draft process. So it’s good going out there and competing."

Dolphins first-year general manager Dennis Hickey was left with an empty cupboard on the offensive line when he joined the team in January. On the field, Miami’s offensive line allowed a franchise-record 58 quarterbacks sacks and had an inconsistent running game that was ranked 26th in the NFL. There also was a bullying scandal off the field involving three starters: center Mike Pouncey and former guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry.

A major overhaul of the offensive line was needed, and Miami could have as many as four new starters this season. Hickey and the Dolphins are hoping James and Turner are NFL-ready rookies. Both are former team captains and four-year starters with 105 combined collegiate starts.

“Well, I know those guys are talented players, and through our research we felt like they had the makeup that could contribute and help our team,” Hickey said. “So, obviously, that’s why we drafted them. They played a lot of football. They’re both smart and they’re both tough and we’re excited to have them. They’ve done an outstanding job so far.”

Turner will have the hardest time of the two rookies to win a starting job. Miami has an opening at one guard position, but there are a lot of competitors with more NFL experience. Holdovers Nate Garner, Sam Brenner and Dallas Thomas are all potential competitors for Turner this summer, and the coaching staff will not play favorites.

We will know more about Turner's game once he puts the pads on in training camp. At North Dakota State, Turner was known for his mean streak and dominant play against small-school competition. He will try to translate that style to the NFL level.

“I like to hit people. That’s why I play the game, that’s why I play offensive line,” Turner said. “I’m an aggressive guy. ... Coming off the ball being as aggressive as I can is how I play.”
DAVIE, Fla. -- The NFL draft's first round is in the books for the Miami Dolphins. They selected former University of Tennessee right tackle Ja'Wuan James at No. 19 overall to boost their offensive line.

But what’s next for the Dolphins in Rounds 2 and 3?

Here is a preview of where the Dolphins stand:

Friday’s picks: No. 50 (second round) and No. 81 (third round)

Remaining needs: Guard, linebacker, safety

Analysis: The Dolphins filled a major need at right tackle by drafting James, but many question whether it was a good value pick. Either way, it’s time for Miami to move forward. The Dolphins still have several needs to address. There is still a hole at guard on the offensive line. Miami signed free agent Shelley Smith but the other spot is wide open. Currently Sam Brenner, Nate Garner and Dallas Thomas are all backups competing for that spot. The Dolphins also could use help at middle linebacker. Dannell Ellerbe played out of position last year and struggled. He could move outside if the Dolphins find a potential starting middle linebacker in the second or third round. Miami missed on former Alabama middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, who was taken by the Baltimore Ravens at No. 17. The Dolphins also could use depth at tight end, receiver and running back, although they have starters at those positions. The draft still have some good prospects in Day 2 available at those positions.

Potential targets: UCLA G Xavier Su'a-Filo, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Marqise Lee, RB Carlos Hyde, RB Tre Mason, LB Chris Borland
Jamar Taylor, Dion Jordan and Will Davis AP Photo, Getty ImagesJamar Taylor, Dion Jordan and Will Davis made a minimal impact as rookies.
Most of the attention over the next three weeks will be focused on the 2014 NFL draft, as each team tries to shape its present and future by identifying the right college players to fill needs.

But for the Miami Dolphins, success or failure this season will depend more on the development of the 2013 draft class. Few teams got less production from their rookies last year than Miami. Only the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks had fewer snaps from first-year players -- and those teams, which competed in Super Bowl XLVIII, were stacked with established veterans.

The Dolphins, who faltered down the stretch and finished 8-8, did not have that luxury.

It's time for Miami's second-year players to come of age during an important time for many within the organization. Head coach Joe Philbin is entering an important third year after going 15-17 his first two seasons, and there could be a lot of change next year if the Dolphins aren't successful.

Most of Miami's top picks -- including defensive end Dion Jordan, offensive lineman Dallas Thomas and cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis -- basically had red-shirt seasons in 2013, thanks to injuries, inconsistency and lack of confidence from the coaching staff. That lack of production was one reason why the Dolphins failed to get to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.

"They got less than anybody in the league out of their draft class, and they had high picks. That's a huge issue," ESPN.com NFL scout Matt Williamson said. "But if that group, the corners and especially Jordan, can play up to what Miami thought they were and what most people thought they were, the Dolphins could rebound."

"We have a lot of hope for the draft class from last year," Philbin said at the NFL owners meetings in late March. "A lot of them have been back early, working. You want to see development throughout the course of an individual player's career, but I think all of you guys would agree you usually see a significant jump between Year 1 and Year 2. These are guys we thought highly of a year ago when we drafted them.

"They had some injury issues that kind of curtailed their development in Year 1. So I'm excited about working with them, developing them and seeing them progress here this season."

The 2013 draft class was one point of contention last year between Miami's coaching staff and the front office. Philbin didn't feel his rookies were ready to take on larger roles. Jeff Ireland, then the Dolphins' general manager, believed in the talent of his draft picks and felt they were not being used properly. Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, was perhaps the biggest example.

Due to offseason shoulder surgery, Jordan missed time in training camp and the preseason. He never found his footing in the regular season and he fell behind veteran defensive ends Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby.

Williamson described Jordan as "a ridiculous athlete." He has immense potential but spent most of the season as the third or fourth defensive end and on special teams. He was involved in 321 snaps and had a disappointing 26 tackles and two sacks.

There have also been offseason trade rumors involving Jordan, which Philbin has denied. Miami's head coach expects Jordan to have a larger role in 2014.

"We feel like with a full offseason, with more time devoted to his fundamentals, he will have a better grasp of the position he's playing," Philbin said. "We do want to do a better job with the numbers, rotating him in. ... We want to get him more snaps on first and second down. "

The Dolphins also are counting on young corners Taylor and Davis, who were drafted in the second and third round, respectively. Both had injury setbacks last season and played a combined 104 snaps.

Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes will occupy one starting job, and Taylor and Davis will compete with veteran free-agent acquisition Cortland Finnegan for the other spot. Finnegan, a former Pro Bowl corner, is the favorite to start due to experience. But Philbin is not going in with any preconceived notions.

"I want to see the best player, whoever can help us win football games," Philbin explained. "Whoever performs the best should be the starting corner."

Miami got most of its rookie production last year from unlikely sources. Fifth-round kicker Caleb Sturgis proved to be the Dolphins' best rookie acquisition last season. He beat out longtime Miami kicker Dan Carpenter in training camp and led the Dolphins with 111 points.

The Dolphins also had decent production from undrafted rookie guard Sam Brenner, who made four starts and played 274 snaps. Brenner stepped up following the suspension of guard Richie Incognito in Miami's high-profile bullying scandal.

Brenner's production highlighted the fact that Thomas, a 2013 third-round pick, was too green to step in and be productive. Thomas was rotated between guard and tackle in training camp and never got comfortable in either position. Thomas must find a home at this season in order to provide quality depth.

In fact, it will be vital for Miami's entire 2013 draft class to find roles and contribute next season. The Dolphins used nine draft picks last year, and most have yet to make an impact.

"The Dolphins have a young quarterback [Ryan Tannehill], so they need to build a real core for the long term," Williamson said. "They need last year's draft and this upcoming come to build around Tannehill. They don't need to live for today. A strong core is more important than winning it all this year, although that philosophy can get you fired in Miami if you're 6-10."
New Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jason Fox developed a reputation as being "injury prone" during his four-year stint with the Detroit Lions. It’s not the kind of title you want to have in the NFL.

Fox
But Fox, 25, said Wednesday during a conference call with the Miami media that his multiple injuries are behind him. The Dolphins signed Fox to a one-year contract to add depth on the offensive line.

“Obviously, that’s in the past,” Fox said of his injuries. “I mean, I started 47 straight games at [The University of] Miami. I had some bad luck early in my career, but that’s over. I feel 100 percent healthy.”

Fox will have a chance to compete at right tackle this season. It’s a thin position that currently includes career backup Nate Garner and unproven 2013 draft pick Dallas Thomas. The Dolphins also may add a top draft pick to the mix next month.

Injuries are what kept Fox out of the lineup in Detroit. He was on pace to win the starting right tackle job last year with the Lions before getting hurt last fall.

Fox returns to Miami, where he was a star player for the Hurricanes. He's another piece added to the mix of the Dolphins' makeover on the offensive line.

“I’m very comfortable with South Florida; I consider it a second home for me,” Fox explained. “Obviously the main reason was the Miami Dolphins. I’m just so excited to be here. The offensive line presents a great opportunity for me to compete.”

According to Fox, he’s comfortable playing in a zone-blocking scheme, which will be the foundation of Miami’s offensive line. The Dolphins are trying to build competition at right tackle, but Fox must stay healthy in order to make a difference.

Offseason Blueprint: Dolphins

March, 4, 2014
3/04/14
12:00
PM ET
MIAMI -- Roster development is a major topic in South Florida. The Miami Dolphins got little from their 2013 draft class, and that was one of several reasons the team missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

But who is to blame in Miami?

Was it the fault of former general manager Jeff Ireland, who picked the players? Or was it head coach Joe Philbin and his staff for failing to develop and get an immediate impact from 2013 draft picks such as Dion Jordan, cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis and offensive lineman Dallas Thomas? It’s debatable. But, clearly, Miami’s owner Stephen Ross made his choice by keeping Philbin and firing Ireland after an 8-8 season.

With Ireland out of the picture, the pressure is now on Philbin. He must develop and get the best out of his young players -- particularly a dynamic talent like Jordan. This is one issue within the bigger picture that could impact Philbin’s long-term job security.

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