Omar Kelly, Staff writerhttp://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miam ... ?track=rss
6:22 p.m. EDT, July 30, 2014
During his NFL career, Nate Garner has played at every position on the Miami Dolphins' offensive line in a game, ...
And that's where Garner, who started two games at center last season, enters the equations. Garner finished Wednesday's practice working with the starting offensive line as Smith's replacement.
"I'll play wherever they put me," Garner said. "Every year I come out here I'm trying to push for a starting spot. It is no different this year. I'm working my butt off, and have been working my butt off this whole offseason." ...
Garner wasn't the only offensive linemen getting a tryout with the starting unit. Rookie Billy Turner, the team's third-round pick, replaced Dallas Thomas as the starting right guard for the final 11-on-11 series. ...
Coach Joe Philbin said he's instructed his coaching staff to mix things up and experiment a little during this week's practices.
"I want to see some guys in some different spots. I want to see how they respond. I want to let them know that they've got to produce and perform," Philbin said. "We've got to find the exact right spots for these guys."
Philbin said the Dolphins intend to start the best five offensive linemen. Branden Albert, a 2013 Pro Bowl pick, and JaWuan James, the team's first-round pick, are locked in as the starting tackles as long as they remain healthy. Daryn Colledge has been solid as the starting left guard, but the Dolphins need to solve the center and right-guard riddle. ...
Smith, who has never played center in an NFL game, has mishandled at least six snaps in five training-camp practices. He lost his spot with the first team Wednesday after a low snap resulted in a fumble that was recovered by Isaaka Aaitui.
Smith said he wasn’t surprised he was replaced by Garner, who started two games at center last season and 19 games at various positions in his five seasons. Smith had been Miami’s first-team right guard during offseason practices before Pouncey’s injury.
The Dolphins’ depth at center remains limited. Sam Brenner, who filled in for Pouncey at center during a practice in late June, missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury. The Dolphins hope he can return in a few days. Free agent Samson Satele, who auditioned for the Dolphins on June 30, remains on Miami’s radar.
As for Thomas, coach Joe Philbin said in March that it was important to determine his best position and leave him there. That still hasn’t happened. “We’ll see if he looks that much more comfortable [at tackle],” Philbin said. “I doubt that will be the case but it could be. I told the staff I want to see some guys in some different spots.”
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