Off the Snap: Shaky Hall of Fame Game showing adds to Miami’s O-line concerns
Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web…
• The Miami Dolphins had some questions about their left tackle play heading into Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game. It’s fair to say that they now have some serious concerns.
Jonathan Martin struggled in a brief showing during Miami’s 24-20 loss to the Cowboys, and rookie backup Dallas Thomas was abused by Dallas’ defensive ends. Thomas’ rough night came mostly at the hands of George Selvie, who’s on his fourth team in four years. He proved way too much for Thomas to handle, at one point simply driving Thomas several yards into the backfield to register a sack.
The Dolphins still seem to believe that Martin can do the job on Ryan Tannehill’s blindside. Martin played on the left in college, so the hope is that a move back there can erase the nightmares from Martin’s rocky rookie year playing on the right.
Any struggles by Martin (and possibly Thomas, should Martin suffer an injury or bomb) would become a major talking point in Miami, given the franchise’s decision to let Jake Long walk this offseason. Miami later snatched up Tyson Clabo to play on the right side, but shaky early returns from Martin could have the Dolphins second-guessing their gameplan.
• The Rams find themselves in a rather enviable position this August, with strong competition at the skill positions. The addition of several rookies — wide receivers, and former West Virginia teammates, Tavon Austin and Stedman Baily and running back Zac Stacy — has ratcheted up the team’s talent level.
The next step: figuring out how to dole out playing time at those key spots.
Jim Thompson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the roster is taking shape, with the preseason approaching. Some of the intriguing revelations: Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead are “clearly at the head of the pack” at RB, ahead of Stacy; and that Bailey has not been able to ascend above No. 5 on the receiver depth chart.
• Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson “would love to be on Hard Knocks”, HBO’s annual documentary series, which this year will follow the Bengals around camp. But Burleson believes that the Lions have not yet earned the right to be in the spotlight in such a way, reports Justin Rogers of MLive.com.
“We haven’t accomplished enough, in my mind, to be parading around on camera before the season starts,” said Burleson, a fixture on NFL Network programming during the offseason. “From my perspective, being one of the leaders on this team, we need to accomplish something before we’re smiling in front of the cameras for five weeks.”
• When the Jets traded for Chris Ivory, they expected that the former New Orleans Saint would step in and roll as the starting running back. With Ivory sidelined by a hamstring injury right now, though, the Jets have turned back to Bilal Powell.
“It was good to see Bilal, and he made a couple of great plays,” Rex Ryan told the New York Daily News. “He made an unbelievable play on a screen pass, also, but he did run the ball hard. We know the kind of back he is, but I think now, obviously with the opportunity he’s been given, he’s really taking the reins.”
Powell had a strong camp last year, too, which enabled him to carve out a role behind Shonn Greene in the Jets’ backfield. He finished the year with 437 yards rushing and four TDs.
• We probably will not know exactly how rookie Bjoern Werner’s transformation from a defense end to a rush linebacker is going until the Colts show him off in some games. All indications out of Indianapolis, however, are that Werner’s taking to the move.
“I love being in that position, it’s a lot of fun. And I have Robert Mathis there, I can learn a lot,” Werner told the Colts’ website. “He always tells me, ‘I was there last year,’ and he was a 10-year veteran last year, so he had to make that big jump too. It’s not easy, but you just want to do it and keep working. You’re going to improve every day if you want to. And never look back, just look forward even if you have bad days.”
Werner’s length reportedly has paid dividends already in practice, with several pass break-ups out of the nickel defense. Indianapolis should be able to pick and choose its spots for Werner, at least early, with Mathis and free-agent pickup Erik Walden in the OLB spots on first and second downs.