Some people inside the Dolphins wouldn’t mind conserving a roster spot by having Jarvis Landry replace Marcus Thigpen as the punt returner. Thigpen was 18th in kickoff returns, 19th in punt returns last season.
But offensive coordinator Bill Lazor likes Thigpen and the Dolphins will need to find a spot for him if he proves to be their best returner. Though Landry says he can return kicks and Lamar Miller can, too, none of the other players who fielded kickoffs last week besides Thigpen (Damian Williams, Matt Hazel and Rantavious Wooten) might even make the team.
### The Dolphins have been making preliminary inquiries about some available centers, though it remains to be seen whether Miami will bring in anyone for a visit or sign any of them.
Here’s how the remaining unsigned starting centers finished in the Pro Football Focus rankings last season, among 35 centers: Cincinnati’s Kyle Cook was 24th, Pittsburgh’s Fernando Velasquez 25th, Jacksonville’s Brad Meester 30th, and the Colts’ Samson Satele 31st.
Mike Pouncey, who is expected to miss two to six regular-season games, was 13th.Among the subplots we’ll be watching in training camp (first practice is July 25) are battles for backup positions on defense, several of which have become very competitive.
At cornerback, Jalil Brown has made a strong case so far to make this team and perhaps even play ahead of Will Davis. But do you keep six corners, which seems excessive considering safety Jimmy Wilson plays in the nickel: Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan, Jamar Taylor (who are clearly your top three), Davis, Brown and rookie Walt Aikens?
Impressive LSU rookie Anthony Johnson has a legitimate chance to beat out A.J. Francis and Isaako Aaitui for the No. 4 tackle spot. And undrafted rookies Garrison Smith (Georgia) and Kamal Johnson (Temple) also have earned consideration.
At safety, three things are set: Reshad Jones and Louis Delmas as starters and Wilson as the nickel back. The fourth safety job is very close among Jordan Kovacs (the new management likes him), Don Jones (upside on special teams) and Michael Thomas (the end-of-game star against New England).
### Early reviews of defensive tackle Earl Mitchell have been encouraging.
“They got a real good player,” Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson, his former Texans teammate, told me. “He’s not a real big dude [by behemoth defensive tackle standards] but he plays like a big dude.”
Jason Taylor, who has been serving as a volunteer assistant at times during the Dolphins' offseason program, addressed a couple of issues on 790 The Ticket's morning show,
1) On his Dolphins role from here: "I did a little bit in OTAs and mini camp and I will probably do some in training camp. I hope they have me back. It's good to be around the guys again and do football and share some of the knowledge you were able to gain. We'll see if I can do a little bit more in training camp and take it from there."
2) On whether it makes sense for Dion Jordan to play special teams: "The thing about Dion is he is so athletic he gives you an advantage on [special teams]. The problem is taking a little bit of gas out of the tank [on defense]. I played on the punt and punt return team my first three years."
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