2012 training camp preview: Miami Dolphins

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

More AFC East training camp previews: Bills | Jets | Patriots

Training camp goals

1. Settle the quarterback conundrum. The Dolphins have been stuck in a quarterback abyss ever since Dan Marino retired in 1999. While there are some decent arms on the roster, there is no guarantee relief comes in 2012.

David Garrard, a 34-year-old veteran, appears to be the front-runner based on his seamless fit into the West Coast offense. But incumbent starter Matt Moore showed promise last season, and is younger. And Ryan Tannehill represents the future of the franchise, but considering he's only had 19 college starts at Texas A&M, it is likely that the Dolphins' first-round pick will need time to adjust to the speed of the NFL game.

Whichever veteran does end up starting the season opener will need to produce wins to keep Miami from investing playing time in Tannehill late in the season.

2. Get comfortable with the new systems. The Dolphins have spent all offseason breaking in a new coaching staff, and trying to effectively and efficiently change the offensive and defensive schemes, and the team's approach.

New coach Joe Philbin is implementing a West Coast offense similar to the one he orchestrated in Green Bay, and the Dolphins intend on pushing the pace.

From a defensive standpoint, the Dolphins are switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 base, and new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle intends on creating more confusion by changing up how he utilizes the Dolphins' safeties and linebackers. The Dolphins intend on featuring a defense with more interchangeable parts, and one that ideally keeps offenses on their toes.

The Dolphins have had a forceful defensive front for the past two years, holding opponents to a 3.6 yards-per-carry average in 2010, and 3.7 yards-per-carry in 2011. But Coyle intends to provide more pass rushing pressure with the goal of producing more than the 41 quarterback sacks the team generated last season.
Player to watch
Reshad Jones has a long standing reputation as an aggressive, instinctive safety from his days at the University of Georgia. He's flashed from time to time in his first two seasons with the Dolphins, but in 2011 he lost more battles than he won when gambling. Jones started 14 games in his first two seasons, contributing 88 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions, which is decent. But it appears spending a full season as a starter, and the instruction Miami's new coaches have provided has helped this 2010 fifth-round pick take his game to the next level.

On the hot seat

John Jerry doesn't fit the athletic mold the Dolphins want for their zone blocking offensive line. Jerry, a 2010 third-round pick who lost his starting spot last year, is at least 25 pounds heavier than his desired weight (320), and his lackluster practices during the team's offseason program allowed Artis Hicks to replace him as the front-runner to serve as Miami's starting right guard. If Jerry doesn't get his act and weight together, he might not even make the 53-man roster. Last year, Jerry's draft status saved him when it came time for the Dolphins to make cuts. This year Jerry likely won't be afforded the same luxury because these coaches weren't involved in drafting him.

Strategy and personnel

Jonathan Martin's performance in his second week of OTAs was a little concerning. The Dolphins' second-round pick is struggling to anchor on running plays, and his area is being compromised by speed rushers. In fairness to Martin, this is the first time since high school he's playing right tackle considering he had been a left tackle at Stanford for the past three years. But Martin clearly needs time to get use to the new spot.

[Around the NFL: 2012 training camp schedules, fantasy advice and more]

Cameron Wake, the Dolphins' Pro Bowl pass rusher, has been borderline abusive to the rookie. But coach Joe Philbin made it clear the offensive lineman, who missed all but one week of OTAs because of Stanford's quarter system, needs the beating to get better. "That's great stuff," Philbin said. "Coach [Jim] Turner can sit in a meeting room and talk about how you pass set and I can tell you to time up your punch and that it's a six-inch punch and act real smart, but until you get out there and do it, it's a different animal going up against that type of athlete. It's great experience for him."

Good thing for Miami, Lydon Murtha isn't chopped liver, and remains in the mix to serve as the starting right tackle.

Medical watch

– CB Richard Marshall, who was sidelined by leg injury for two weeks, participated in all of Miami's minicamp.

– CB Vontae Davis, who has been sidelined by an undisclosed injury during the OTA sessions, participated in minicamp.

– WR Brian Hartline, who has sat out most of the team's OTA practices, missed minicamp because of a medical issue. But it was not related to a leg injury.

– CB Nolan Carroll sat out the last day of minicamp because of an undisclosed leg issue.

– RB Jonas Gray continues to be sidelined by an ACL injury he suffered in November.

Full Dolphins team report

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Take Megatron over me in fantasy … he's got the QB
Meeting RGIII halfway will be key to Redskins' early success
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel defends Joe Paterno as 'a good man'
Y! Real Estate: The 10 most expensive celebrity estates on the market

What to Read Next