Miami Dolphins’ fortunes revolve around Ryan Tannehill’s knee, putting heat on ‘new person’ Laremy Tunsil

Laremy Tunsil ‘played like a rookie’ in his first season at left tackle, one Dolphins coach said. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Note: This continues a series in Daily Dolphin spotlighting members of the team individually. In addition to reliving highlights and lowlights of the past season for each, we’ll provide analysis and criticism, plus take a look at how each player fits — or doesn’t fit — into the team’s plans for 2018.)

OT Laremy Tunsil

Height, weight: 6-5, 318

College: Ole Miss

Age: Will be 24 this season

Experience: Third season, all with Dolphins

Acquired: First-round pick in 2016

Contract: In third year of his four-year, $12.4 million rookie deal

Pro Football Focus rank: 47th out of 81

In 2017

Stats: Started 15 games

Straight talk: Long after last season ended, coach Adam Gase was still counting up all the curveballs thrown the Dolphins’ way.

You can include Tunsil’s first season at left tackle among them.

The Dolphins thought they had a steal when Tunsil fell to them in the 2016 draft, and if they thought they could just plug him in at his natural position, left tackle, after a rookie season at guard, both the team and the player learned that wasn’t the case.

L.T. the LT still has some growing to do.

“There’s probably a lot of us sitting here that thought it would be an easy transition for him,” Gase said.

One of them isn’t Tunsil.

“I never assumed it was going to be easy,” Tunsil said. “Playing left tackle at the highest level of football, I never thought it would be easy.”

It wasn’t until the offseason workouts were ending that Tunsil truly opened up on his performance in 2017.

“It was a bad taste — a horrible taste,” he said. ” … I knew I could have been better. Now I’m here, a new season, a new person. Let’s get it.”

As last season wore on, Gase said he saw “a different side” of Tunsil, one in which he developed a better sense of professionalism. Tunsil knew things had to change to cut down on sacks allowed and penalties, including avoidable pre-snap infractions.

“At times I think he would tell you that he’s felt like a rookie and he’s played like a rookie,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said in December.

Tunsil didn’t offer a dissenting opinion. Asked what he took from his 2017 performance, he said, “It was a bad taste — a horrible taste.”

Even in the memorable Monday night win over the Patriots, things weren’t as they needed to be. Gase described Tunsil’s inconsistent play as “four good, one bad,” which won’t cut it going against elite pass rushers.

Despite an affable personality, there were stretches last year in which Tunsil kept to himself, declining interview requests in what could be seen as a sign of frustration. One exception was in early December, when he was asked how he could better deal with speed off the edge.

“Continue to get better with my practice habits and just work,” he said. “It’s that simple.”

Prospects for 2018

The Dolphins remain optimistic Tunsil will be the player they expected him to be when he was drafted, so there’s a good chance he’ll be Miami’s left tackle for years to come. Improvement must come immediately, because he’ll be the main bodyguard for Ryan Tannehill and Tannehill’s surgically repaired knee.

One positive development this offseason was the acquisition of former Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton from the Bears and Packers, who should give Tunsil a Branden Albert-like veteran who can offer advice and support.

“That was something that I brought up myself,” Sitton said, referring to when he was negotiating to sign with the Dolphins. “I’ve always been that type of player, to give my knowledge or whatever to anybody that is younger than me, and especially going into Year 11 now, I’ve learned a lot, a lot thing. I think it’s your duty as an older guy to bring those young guys along with you.”

Tunsil says he’s ready to go.

“A new season, a new person,” he said. “Let’s get it.”


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Dolphins coach Adam Gase more confident than ever that he’s got a winning roster

Kenny Stills and the Dolphins’ offense are looking to snap back from a low-scoring 2017 season. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — Dolphins coach Adam Gase emerged from free agency defiant amid widespread criticism of the team’s offseason and claimed he had a winning roster.

Miami had just finished unloading Mike Pouncey, Ndamukong Suh and Jarvis Landry, as well as their massive salaries, and didn’t make any flashy signings to replace them. Still, particularly on offense, this group of personnel was closest to what Gase envisioned when he took the job in January 2016.

[RELATED: Don’t miss our exclusive photos from Dolphins OTAs in Davie]

He’s had a while, including the last four weeks of offseason practices, to reevaluate whether he was right about that and he’s now more confident than ever. Watching Ryan Tannehill work behind a remodeled offensive line with several new skill players confirmed for Gase that his offense is on track for a big comeback this season.

“I think so,” he said. “I see a lot of the guys doing things the way we need them done. I like the way that we’re handling the mental game of it as well. Things are moving fast. We’re reacting very quickly.

“Really, it’s going to come down to how we handle training camp when it starts to get hot (and) the preseason games. You’re always going to have an injury. Who’s going to step up and fill those voids? We’ve still got a long ways to go. The season is a long ways away. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us and we’ll just keep grinding.”

Tannehill is the biggest difference, taking command and making plays that were simply beyond the capacity of Jay Cutler and Matt Moore. Nothing makes Gase more confident than that.

While those outside the building have always had doubts about Tannehill, who has yet to produce an above-average season since being picked No. 8 overall in 2012, Gase has been unwavering in his belief that this is a winning quarterback.

He immediately bought into Tannehill’s ability as a dual-threat playmaker and thought all he needed was to be emboldened by a coach who pushed him into being more of a leader. He appears to have adopted some of Gase’s personality, and his past year and a half on the sideline made him fully fluent in Gase’s system as well.

Watching him operate that offense over the last four weeks heightened Gase’s optimism about the upcoming season.

“He’s gotten better,” he said of Tannehill. “We’ve been working (on) a lot of pocket movement things and getting him comfortable in that aspect. It doesn’t seem like he’s really changed much as far as worrying about bodies around him. He’s out there playing. He’s throwing the ball well. You can tell he’s spent a lot of time with these skill guys in the offseason.”

Almost everyone Tannehill will be throwing to is new to him. Among the main pass-catchers, only receivers Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker were playing a significant role in the offense when Tannehill went down in 2016.

He worked frequently with Albert Wilson, Danny Amendola, A.J. Derby and rookie tight end Mike Gesicki in player-run passing sessions this offseason.

“I feel right now that we legitimately have two groups of receivers that can play at a high level for us,” Tannehill said. “So if we want to sub somebody out and keep fresh legs in there, or if someone goes down, I don’t feel like there’s really going to be much of a drop off.”

Amendola and Wilson were both as good in Organized Team Activities as Gase anticipated, and Gesicki was a breath of fresh air at a position that’s hurt Miami for a long time. That said, there’s no certainty they’ll be able to perform like that against live defenses.

Is Wilson prepared to be used all over the field? Is Amendola going to be another overpriced, past-his-prime signing like Julius Thomas, Lawrence Timmons and Mario Williams? Are there ever any certainties when it comes to rookies?

Kenyan Drake has to prove himself as a versatile, every-down running back, something hasn’t done as a collegian or pro. Even if Drake thrives in that role, the Dolphins still need something out of 35-year-old Frank Gore or fourth-round pick Kalen Ballage (preferably both of them).

On the o-line, San Francisco castoff Daniel Kilgore takes over for Pouncey, Jesse Davis is a new starter at right guard and Laremy Tunsil looks to rebound from a frustrating season in which he was beaten or blocked the wrong man too many times.

And that’s just the offense.

With more than a month between now and training camp, and another month-plus until the season begins, Gase isn’t fretting over any of those things. For now, he likes what he sees.

“We’re gelling pretty good,” he said. “They like to practice against each other, they like playing together. You can tell there’s a lot of energy out there. I think that’s really one of the things that’s going to be improvement for us. We kind of lost that a little bit last year. This year we’re looking like we’re headed in the right direction.”

[Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil moves past ‘horrible taste’ of last season, poised for comeback]

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Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil ready to move on from ‘horrible taste’ of 2017 season

Laremy Tunsil is ready for a comeback . (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — Nobody needs to tell Laremy Tunsil last season didn’t go well for him. It’s been on his mind for months.

In his move from left guard back to his natural spot at left tackle, he struggled with missed assignments, inconsistency and just straight-up getting beat by defensive ends. The Dolphins’ coaching staff thought it’d be an easy transition for him, but that’s one of the toughest positions in the game regardless of how familiar a player is with it.

Tunsil’s not hiding from how poorly he played, but he’s not going to stay stuck on it, either.

“It was a bad taste, a horrible taste,” he said today when Miami wrapped up its offseason practices. “I just wanted to improve my game. That’s the main thing I was dwelling on. I know I could’ve been better.

“Now I’m here and it’s a new season, new person. Let’s get it.”

[RELATED: Don’t miss our exclusive photos from Dolphins OTAs in Davie]

Burying the past is probably for the best, and Tunsil’s right to think of this as a fresh start.

He spent a lot of time analyzing film of his mistakes in the offseason, zeroing in on his worst games and thinking through the corrections. New offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn has been an uplifting influence on him after a chaotic year for that unit last season and he’s intent on keeping everything positive for Tunsil. He’s also got a new wingman at left guard in Josh Sitton, a four-time Pro Bowler with a decade of experience.

All of those elements are working together to set Tunsil up for a bounce-back year.

“I just wanted to work on my overall game: pass, set, run game — anything,” he said. “I just wanted to be a complete player.”

Sitton’s presence, both as a mentor and as a better player than anyone Miami had at left guard, is gives the Dolphins good cause for optimism with Tunsil. If he stays healthy, he’ll make Tunsil’s job easier and steady the line.

Sitton said last month he’s eager to help Tunsil and their relationship is already off to a good start. They’ve spoken extensively throughout the offseason, and Sitton is setting the example the Dolphins want Tunsil to follow.

“The guy you’re playing next to, you see how he operates,” coach Adam Gase said. “You see how he works in meeting rooms and then comes on the field and works individually. That’s the thing I’ve been most impressed with.

“I think (Tunsil) being able to talk to him every day, as far as, ‘Hey, what do we want to do here?’ or ‘How do we want to set on these pass rushes?’ — those two guys working in tandem is going to be a big thing for us.”

The Dolphins’ overhaul of their offensive hinges largely on whether Tunsil is able to establish himself as the top-quality left tackle they envisioned when they drafted him 13th overall in 2016.

They started him at left guard because Branden Albert was at left tackle, then offloaded Albert to Jacksonville to make room for Tunsil’s triumphant return to the position last season. It didn’t go as planned.

“I never assumed it was going to be easy,” said Tunsil, who was a left tackle his entire career prior to his rookie season. “Playing left tackle at the highest level of football, I never thought it’d be easy.

“It’s very natural, but it’s the highest point of the game. You get what I’m saying? You’re going against some of the best athletes in the game. It’s always going to be a competition every week.”

Now they’ll line him and Sitton up on the left side next to new center Daniel Kilgore, a much more affordable option than three-time Pro Bowl pick Mike Pouncey. Jesse Davis is done jumping around and has settled in at right guard next to tackle Ja’Wuan James. Those moves won’t matter much, though, unless Tunsil turns it around.

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Laremy Tunsil, Josh Sitton cohesive on left side of Miami Dolphins’ o-line

The Dolphins need Laremy Tunsil to be one of the top left tackles in the league. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — The Dolphins’ philosophy on signing left guard Josh Sitton was twofold. Not only did they need to bulk up the interior of their offensive, but they believed he would instantly make left tackle Laremy Tunsil better.

Tunsil struggled last season after playing at left guard as a rookie, which surprised him and the team because he’s been a left tackle all his life. Adding an 11th-year veteran of Sitton’s caliber alongside him is bound to make things easier.

“I try to help out young guys, whether it’s the guy right next to me or the guy at the 3-spot, or whatever it is,” Sitton said this week. “I have guys that I’ve played next to when I was young — specifically Mark Tauscher, Scott Wells, Chad Clifton and guys like that — that kind of took me under their wing and taught me a few things.

“My approach is my door is always open and Laremy has been good about talking to me. I think we’ve already gotten off on the right foot with the communication and that relationship.”

Miami coach Adam Gase has already noticed the impact early in Organized Team Activities and said, “It’s really a great thing to see how he works, him and Laremy, and how they talk through things and the amount of time they spend with each other.”

The Dolphins drafted Tunsil No. 13 overall in 2016 and played him at left guard because they had left tackle Branden Albert coming off a Pro Bowl season. They unloaded Albert to the Jaguars at the end of the year with the belief that Tunsil would ease back into his natural position, but their o-line issues continued.

Tunsil seemed disappointed almost anytime he discussed his play during the season, and Pro Football focus ranked him No. 47 in the league among all offensive tackles.

“There’s probably a lot of us sitting here that thought it would be an easy transition for him,” Gase said two months ago. “It’s still left tackle in the NFL. I think it was tougher for him than what all of us anticipated.”

Toward the end of the season, however, Tunsil started to settle in at the position.

“I saw a guy that started to notice that it’s not that easy,” Gase continued. “He went to work and he practiced hard and he was great in meetings. The way he was watching film and his development as a professional improved last year. I think he’s excited moving forward, getting Josh in there and working with him, and to really be the guy that he’s wanted to be since he came out.”

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Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Miami Dolphins announce 2018 season jersey numbers for new players

New jersey, same number for Danny Amendola. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins shook up their roster in a big way this offseason, and that creates some work for their equipment people. With Organized Team Activities coming up in two weeks, the team announced new uniform numbers for its newcomers.

When the team officially takes the field for the first time May 22, a few returning players will do so with different uniforms. Most notably, left tackle Laremy Tunsil is switching from No. 67 to 78 so new center Daniel Kilgore can keep 67. Punter Matt Haack will wear No. 2 instead of 16, and receiver Isaiah ford will go from No. 15 to 84.

Tunsil wore 78 at Ole Miss, and it is Richmond Webb’s former number. Webb, who is in the Dolphins’ Ring of Honor but does not have his number retired, was a seven-time Pro Bowl pick while playing for Miami from 1990 through 2000.

Among the big-name arrivals in free agency, receiver Albert Wilson moves from his usual No. 12 to 15 (made possible by Ford’s change), receiver Danny Amendola will wear the No. 80 as he did in New England and running back Frank Gore will have No. 21.

Defensive end Robert Quinn will hang on to No. 94, and recently acquired defensive tackle Akeem Spence will take Ndamukong Suh’s old No. 93.

Offensive guard Josh Sitton has worn No. 71 throughout his decade in the league and will hang on to it this season. Tight end Gavin Escobar will go with No. 89 for now.

The two new quarterbacks, Brock Osweiler and Bryce Petty, will also make their Dolphins debuts this month. Osweiler will wear No. 8, and the team has not specified a number for Petty yet. David Fales has No. .9, which Petty wore for the Jets.

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Grading Miami Dolphins drafts under Adam Gase, Chris Grier, Mike Tannenbaum

Minkah Fitzpatrick will look like a great pick if he’s a starter this year, and if the Dolphins can figure out a good role for T.J. McDonald. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins have had three runs through the NFL Draft with Adam Gase, Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier in charge, and it’s already reasonably clear they’ve got some hits and misses.

Of the 20 players those three have selected, led by Grier as the team’s draft czar, eight have a good shot at being in the starting lineup this season. That includes this year’s No. 11 pick, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who will have to beat out T.J. McDonald for a spot.

Whether that’s good or bad depends on how those players play. Seeing the draft picks materialize into starters isn’t inherently a positive unless those guys help the Dolphins win.

They’ve selected 10 in the first three rounds, highlighted by top picks Fitzpatrick, defensive end Charles Harris and left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Harris and Tunsil are off to promising starts, though both are under pressure to show big improvement this season.

Tunsil began at left guard because the team had Branden Albert, then shifted into his natural position last season. He was up and down, and inconsistency at left tackle can unravel the whole offense. With 29 career starts and a full season of playing left tackle in the NFL behind him, this is the year for Tunsil to prove he was worth the No. 13 pick.

Harris seemed like a pick for the future when Miami, coming off a 10-6 playoff season, chose him No. 22 overall a year ago.

He was obviously going to sit behind Cameron Wake and Andre Branch as a rookie, and his prospects for playing in the upcoming season aren’t much better given that Wake is still a force and the team traded for Robert Quinn. It also won’t be easy to beat out Branch, whose 2017 dropoff was attributable largely to injury trouble.

Harris played every game last year and graded out well internally, but managed just two sacks despite being on the field for almost 500 snaps.

Xavien Howard (second round, 2016) and Cordrea Tankersley (third, 2017) are viable starters at cornerback and could be an excellent tandem for Miami if play at the top end of what they’ve shown so far.

Raekwon McMillan, the second-round pick last year, earned the starting middle linebacker job last summer before tearing his ACL in the first preseason game. He’ll resume that spot this season, and the Dolphins are already counting on him to anchor their defense.

Then there’s Kenyan Drake, who already looks like a jackpot find by Grier at pick No. 73 overall in the third round in 2016. Drake, an Alabama product who is one of 17 Miami picks from Power 5 schools, could prove to be the team’s biggest value of draftee in this three-year span.

He’s got the opportunity this year to become the focal point of the offense, and there’s good cause to be optimistic. He led the NFL in rushing over the final five games of last season with 444 (88.8 per game and 4.9 per carry), plus two touchdowns and 150 yards receiving.

The Dolphins are hoping current fourth-rounder Kalen Ballage will develop into a similar threat and form a dynamic long-term backfield with Drake.

This year’s Day 2 picks, tight end Mike Gesicki out of the second round and linebacker Jerome Baker from the third, are also expected to vie for starting role. Gesicki already is the clear favorite to take over at tight end, where the roster is light on proven production.

The only big letdown for Miami out of players chosen in the first three rounds is receiver Leonte Carroo, who goes into his third season with 10 catches, 98 yards and one touchdown in 28 games. That’s not exactly “a much faster Anquan Boldin,” as he described himself on draft day in 2016.

If Carroo was a draft error by the Dolphins, it’s compounded by the fact that they packaged three picks in a deal with Minnesota to be able to take him. He has two years left on his rookie contract, and the Dolphins can afford to be patient since his salary cap hit is under $1 million both seasons.

Of their Day 3 picks, the biggest hit by far out of the 2016 and ’17 classes was LSU defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. He might be the best at his position on this team now that Ndamukong Suh is gone.

Jakeem Grant (sixth round, 2016) has also been a good find, particularly in the return game, and the team might have its new kicker in recent seventh-rounder Jason Sanders.

The only one of the 20 draft picks that’s no longer on the team is 2016 seventh-rounder Brandon Doughty, who was unable to break onto the depth chart at quarterback and was granted his release last month.

Free agency has monumental implications, and certainly Gase is responsible to work with the roster holdovers from the previous regime, but smart drafting is the route to competing regularly. If the Dolphins can keep finding two or three quality starters in every draft, they’ll keep getting better.

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Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Adam Gase: Miami Dolphins’ housecleaning triggered by loafing in Buffalo

Adam Gase says, ‘We just did not have enough guys’ giving all they had in Buffalo last season. (Getty Images)

It’s one thing to criticize poor play in the NFL, quite another to rip a team for effort.

Thursday morning, coach Adam Gase went after effort, blasting some of his players for going through the motions in a 24-16 loss at Buffalo that essentially ended the slim hopes this team had of turning around its season.

The Dolphins were coming off a resounding 27-20 upset of New England when they traveled to upstate New York and were flattened by the Bills, triggering a three-game losing streak as a 6-10 season ground to a halt.

“That game at Buffalo just seemed like a 20-hour game,” Gase said on Joe Rose’s show on WQAM-560AM. “I was just waiting for us to turn the corner and really get going and nothing was working for us. There was no swagger, no attitude, and it was disappointing to see. It wasn’t everybody. You turn on that tape, there are guys that stand out noticeably as far as their effort and their play that was extremely high, and they were giving everything they had. We just did not have enough guys doing that.

“That’s why we felt like we needed to change some things around.”

It was a stinging swipe by Gase, the likes of which we hadn’t heard since he blasted players’ study habits following the 40-0 shellacking at Baltimore in October.

Since Gase did not mention names, it’s natural to wonder whom he was criticizing.

The ironic part? Several of the departed were the team’s statistical leaders that day.

‘There was no swagger, no attitude, and it was disappointing to see.’ — Adam Gase, on some of his players’ lack of effort in Buffalo last season

Jarvis Landry, for example, was targeted 13 times and made 10 catches for a season-high 99 yards. Cody Parkey kicked field goals of 28, 41 and 26 yards and accounted for 10 of the 16 points. Ndamukong Suh had seven total tackles, including three for loss.

Other performances of note: Jay Cutler was 28 of 49 for 274 yards, was sacked three times, threw three interceptions, fumbled four times and had a passer rating of 47.5.

Among players still on the Dolphins, Kenyan Drake had 16 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, DeVante Parker was targeted 12 times and had six receptions for 89 yards and Kenny Stills was targeted six times, finishing with one catch for 8 yards. Jakeem Grant had a 16.5 average on two punt returns. The other top tacklers were Kiko Alonso (10) and Reshad Jones (seven).

The game got away from the Dolphins immediately, which ought to sound familiar. Buffalo drove 81 yards in 10 plays to open the game, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy. By halftime, it was 21-6, Bills.

In the grades I issue after every game, I ripped quarterback play (Grade: F) and manufactured the phrase “confoundingly erratic” to describe Cutler. I also took it out on linebackers, giving them a D, which, coincidentally, was the same grade I gave the coaching staff, saying it was “short on answers” after Buffalo took the lead. I said coaches exercised poor clock management late.

Pro Football Focus gave highest marks to Dolphins scheduled to return: T Sam Young (85.3), T Laremy Tunsil (81.9), DE Charles Harris (78.5), Parker (77.7), Drake (76.6) and LB Chase Allen (75.9). All are 25 or younger except Young, who is 30.

For amateur sleuths trying to sort culprits from innocents, there are scores of players no longer with the Dolphins who can’t be blamed because they were out injured that day, including Damien Williams, Jermon Bushrod, Michael Thomas and Nate Allen.

Mike Pouncey and Julius Thomas (two catches, 15 yards) started the game, Terrence Fede (two tackles) saw limited duty and Neville Hewitt saw spot duty. Matt Moore was inactive. Lawrence Timmons was in on 44 plays, 70 percent of the time, and finished with four tackles.

“We had a lot of good guys in that locker room that gave it everything they had and no matter what happened they never wavered and they just kept plugging away and we feel like we added good pieces to that group,” Gase said.

Here’s the bottom line: Next year at this time, neither Gase nor GM Chris Grier nor football operations chief Mike Tannenbaum will have any excuses. No one will care about “yeah, but” narratives. They’ve reshaped the roster as they wish. They’ve jettisoned some, put stock in others. Ditto for Gase’s assistants.

No, nobody should expect miracles following a 6-10 season, given the amount of talent lost. But if there aren’t tangible reasons for optimism on April 5, 2019, that’s a problem.

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Who is the massive offensive tackle the Miami Dolphins just signed?

Adam Gase has another big body to add to the offensive line. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

It’s never a bad idea to bring in gigantic offensive linemen, even on a trial basis, and the Dolphins picked one up today in Roubbens Joseph.

Joseph is a 23-year-old project who was with the Ravens last offseason but failed to make their roster. He originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University at Buffalo and stuck with Baltimore through training camp.

Joseph, now 6-foot-4, 312 pounds, started every game for the Bulls at left tackle as a senior.

He joins an offensive line that has left tackle Laremy Tunsil and right tackle Ja’Wuan James as clear starters. The Dolphins also have versatile lineman Jesse Davis available to play either tackle spot if needed, though he is expected to compete for the starting right guard spot.

In addition to those guys, Miami has ave backups Sam Young and Zach Sterup returning, as well as developmental projects Sean Hickey and Eric Smith.

The process of figuring out a depth chart starts with Organized Team Activities next month, following the draft. The Dolphins begin the first phase of the offseason program April 16, with OTAs opening May 22.

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2018 NFL free agents: Dolphins bring back offensive tackle Sam Young

Sam Young is back with the Miami Dolphins. (Getty Images)

Local man and former tater tot eating champion Sam Young has re-signed to play offensive tackle for the Dolphins, a source said. He returns on a one-year deal and is a key pickup as they try to establish depth up front.

Young, 30, played 10 games as a left and right tackle last season. He started the final six games at right tackle when Ja’Wuan James went on Injured Reserve.

The Dolphins now move into the upcoming season with Laremy Tunsil at left tackle, James at right and Young next in line at either spot.

They traded for 49ers center Daniel Kilgore after cutting Mike Pouncey and signed veteran left guard Josh Sitton to a two-year contract. The right guard spot will likely be filled by Jesse Davis or Ted Larsen.

The loser of that position battle can serve as a backup at guard and center, giving the Dolphins a clear top seven on the offensive line.

Beyond that group, they have second-year guard Isaac Asiata and center Jake Brendel. Offensive tackles Sean Hickey, Eric Smith and Zach Sterup are also under contract for 2018.

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Miami Dolphins RT Ja’Wuan James appears to be staying put

Ja’Wuan James (right) seems to be staying with the Dolphins. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

As the Dolphins shuffle their roster and look to solidify the offensive line, they’ll save themselves some work by keeping right tackle Ja’Wuan James.

Miami exercised a $9.3 million team option on James for the 2018 season, and it appears he will play on that contract this year. James and left tackle Laremy Tunsil both posted messages on Instagram hinting that they will continue to play together.

The Dolphins are able to rescind the option if James has recovered from the hamstring injury that ended his 2017 season in November, and coach Adam Gase indicated last month they were considering going that route.

“As far as medically, he’s healthy, and we’ve got to make a decision here coming up,” Gase said at the NFL Combine.

The team still has until Wednesday at 4 p.m. to rescind James’ contract, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. There would likely be a strong market for him.

The Dolphins drafted James, 25, No. 19 overall in 2014. He was healthy as a rookie and in 2016, starting all 16 games in both seasons, but played eight or fewer games in 2014 and ’17. Pro Football Focus ranked him the 17th-best tackle, left or right, in the league last season.

Gase seemed less impressed, saying he was inconsistent and hadn’t shown clear improvement in 2017.

“I think Ja’Wuan’s had some really good games, then he’s had some games where I’m sure he would say he wished he played a little better,” he said in November. “I think that’s been the story of the first half of our season: inconsistent across the board with everybody on offense. (Mike) Pouncey’s the only one I can say every game I’m seeing the same things that are good.”

By playing under the team option this year, his salary will eclipse the total of $8.4 million he earned over his first four seasons.

Keeping him gives Miami three starters locked in for the upcoming season. In addition to him and Tunsil, the Dolphins have Pouncey entrenched at center.

They have two guards in Jesse Davis and Ted Larsen, but the question now is whether they’re content to push ahead with this starting five. Larsen played left guard last season, but said he wanted to switch to right. Davis played both guard spots and right tackle for the Dolphins.

The team said one objective this offseason was to determine where Davis fits best, and hanging on to James rules out right tackle.

The Dolphins can still consider alternatives at guard in free agency, though one of the top targets is off the market. Former Carolina guard Andrew Norwell agreed to a five-year, $66.5 million deal with the Jaguars this morning.

Miami also has options in the draft, where it picks No. 11 in the first round and No. 42 overall in the second.

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