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Dolphins Left Guard Competition Opens With Larsen As Starter

Dolphins Left Guard Competition Opens With Larsen As Starter

The Miami Dolphins opened camp with Ted Larsen as the starter at Left Guard

The Miami Dolphins opened camp with Ted Larsen as the starter at Left Guard

Quality of play at Left Guard will be a huge determiner in this season’s success

Front and center to the Miami Dolphins success in 2017 will be the play of interior Offensive Line–right that check on that and take it to the bank.

Mike Pouncey‘s ability to work the second level is crucial in the Zone Stretch, and there’s no one on the team that can duplicate his skill set. So the news that he is as healthy as can be expected was damn good for the organization and fans alike.

But just behind Pouncey’s health, as a crucial win to the Fins success in 2017, is the quality of play at Left Guard.

Laremy Tunsil did an excellent job in pass protect in 2016, but his run blocking left much to be desired. This isn’t a knock on Tunsil. You can’t blame a Porsche for not winning a demolition derby. But, the reality is, the last complete LG Miami has had was Richie Incognito… and it’s been a while since then.

This year’s contenders for starter at LG are Ted Larsen, Kraig Urbik, Issiac Asiata, and Anthony Steen.

Adam Gase decided to open up this year’s camp with Larsen as the starter at LG. It doesn’t mean that he’ll be the starter Week 1, but he does get the first crack.

Looking over his body of work, I’m not sure he will stick as lead dog.

Can Larsen win the Left Guard battle?

But two things are an absolute truth: Gase knows a whole lot more than me, and I get it wrong on occasion.

Yet, despite my wife’s love of validating the latter, Gase did miss on Turner and Dallas, and I–and many others–didn’t… so, snowballs sometimes do have a shot in hell every now and then.

I did a film study on Larsen (check it here if interested), and I couldn’t find a good reason for him to be the best case scenario to start at LG.

At 6’2” he has limiting factors in measurables of reach and physical tools. Yes, Zach Thomas is an ever present reminder that measurables aren’t and end-all be-all, but Larsen is a late biter for a reason. He’s a solid technician and a good fit at Right Guard–but LG… hmmm, that gives me a bit of concern, unless he’s a real late bloomer.

But like I said, Gase knows more than me, so it will be a very interesting and critical position battle.

Although, to tip the hat in Larsen’s direction, the best pay per head services know pass protection was his strong suit in 2016 with the Bears.

Urbik looks the part of a prototypical Left Guard

I’m still in the camp of Urbik being the best candidate at LG (here is his film study).

Urbik has the measurables at 6’5” 330lbs and a higher plateau of a career. His 2013 campaign was supposed to be the launch pad for an excellent career as per PPF.

I’m his personal cheerleader… so I’ll be rooting for him to win: ‘Go Urbik, Go!’

Then there is Asiata, the wildcard. If somehow he can seize the spot, it would put a big feather in the cap of the 2017 Draft. But I’m just not sold on a rookie protecting Ryan Tannenhill‘s blindside–especially given he is coming off a serious knee injury.

But Asiata certainly will have his chance to prove me wrong.

Gase has set the Left Guard position up to be a Rumble Royal. Right Guard seems to have Jermon Bushrod engraved on it–then again, maybe not. But LG is certainly totally up for grabs and is one of the key battles for this camp. This regime went light on acquiring players to help the interior Offensive Line in the off season, so they have signed their names on this one in bold… whatever happens they own it lock, stock, and barrel. We fans have our fingers crossed and eyes wide open. Go Fins!!!


 

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4 comments

  • Samson

    Nobody has proven to be more than a backup on the interior other than Pouncey. Even our tackles haven’t proven anything. James has been up and down, Tunsil I believe will be a stud but he has to prove it and stay healthy. Pouncey goes down and we could be in worse shape than last year. Tunsil wasn’t very good run blocking from the LG spot but was very good pass blocking. If Tunsil is what most expect and IF Pouncey stays healthy they can possibly mask the guard play. But there is that word again…. IF IF IF

    • admin

      Sorry for the late reply… Jimmy has been gone for a month (he’s back today, thank God) and I got jammed up with life and Phinsnews. Yeah, I agree… mostly. Bushrod had a nice stretch at Tackle where he was a Pro Bowl player… but that was years ago and at Tackle. I do have my man crush on Urbik, but he isn’t a stud. Larsen is def a journeymen. Steen might get cut because he is now backing up Jake Brendal. Asiata has talent, but is it enough on the NFL level? And will it be enough early? So yeah, I’m concerned. But the scrimmage showed more life from the OL than years past… still not good at this point and will Pouncey last more than a few games? So yeah, all eyes must be on the OL, but a thing to is that you can scheme up better protection and Miami has the talent at the skills to do it. Patriots do it every year. Those guys aren’t all studs, but the scheme and gameplan helps them… yeah, we are a long way from the Patriots. And that IF lurks like a predator!!! We will find out quickly Samson. I hope the staff is a smart as we hope they are.

  • Lemmus

    …I’ll be happy with anyone who proves competent at either guard position …neither Bushrod nor Urbik did so last season per the stats …and Larsen has traveled too much to deserve anything more than an opportunity to “prove it” here …if that

    …I remain frustrated by the FO draft, they had an opportunity to take a certain starter at G and went with Harris instead who won’t start and Madden has ranked as the worst draft value in the 1st round …yes, we needed a DE, but we also needed a starting G and we got neither …so far, I like Gase as a coach but his (and T-bum’s FO) OL results are an open sore.

    • admin

      Agree, this a critical year as far as reviewing and judging their eval skills. But, I disagree on Urbik, and to a lesser degree Bushrod. With Urbik, he started at LG and C, and filled in at RG. He played pretty well given he was bouncing around and started during one of the 200 yard games. Of course , I’m his cheer leader, so there’s that. And as far as Bushrod, he started a new spot on a new side and was injured early on in the season. Not saying he was a star, but I think this season we’ll see how wise it was to bring him on. It was Gase’s decision and it will point directly to his eval skills. I was with you and wanted to get some studs inside. They went this direction, and it falls directly on their shoulders. If this ends up like 2015… then I’m bringing torches.

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