OXNARD, Calif.–The Dolphins have had about two months to really get everything in place for their season opener against the Chargers. Are they set? Not necessarily.
Miami came into the week with a few positions still open for competition, which isn’t ideal. But those aren’t the only uncertainties. Here are three position groups worth keeping an eye on Sunday:
There have been some telling shifts in Miami’s depth chart lately. The most notable one is that newcomer Alterraun Verner has pulled even with Byron Maxwell. An offshoot of that: Xavien Howard’s starting spot remains unquestioned. That signals that he’s now considered the No. 1 corner. Maxwell and Verner’s competition has gone into overdrive, and coach Adam Gase said he won’t clarify who’s starting until Sunday. The best case outcome would’ve been Maxwell or Verner winning the job decisively weeks ago. Instead, things look a little shaky as the secondary gets ready to face Philip Rivers.
This group’s got a big challenge on its hands with Los Angeles’ Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil’s making his first since moving over from guard. The left guard spot was a decision between journeymen Anthony Steen and Jesse Davis. Mike Pouncey’s health is always a worry. Right guard Jermon Bushrod considered retirement in the offseason. Right tackle Ju’Wuan James was inconsistent last season. Those are the five guys Miami is counting on to protect Jay Cutler and clear the way for Jay Ajayi.
The Dolphins go into the season with a new punter and kicker; Cody Parkey replaces Andrew Franks, and Matt Haack steps in for Matt Darr. Haack is an undrafted rookie about to make his NFL debut. Then there’s Jakeem Grant, who is out to prove he’s past the hands issue that hurt him occasionally last season. He looked good in the preseason games and practices, but he’s gotta do it in the game to fully convince himself and the staff that he’s dependable.
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