Camp Preview: The Five Biggest Questions

G John Jerry

Dolphins players began reporting for training camp on Saturday morning, with the first practice scheduled for Sunday at 8 a.m. When they begin working on the field, the Dolphins will be looking to get ready for the regular season as well as answer some of the question marks that surround this team.

We count down the five biggest questions facing the Dolphins at the start of training camp?

5. How will the Dolphins sort out all their cornerbacks?

This most definitely is a big change from last year when the issue centered more around whether the team had enough depth at the position. GM Jeff Ireland made sure to address the position in the offseason and, as a result, brought in former Pro Bowl selection Brent Grimes via free agency, and Jamar Taylor and Will Davis via the draft.

They join a group that already included Nolan Carroll, Dimitri Patterson and Richard Marshall, who is back after missing the last 12 games in 2012 because of a back injury.

So the Dolphins now have four cornerbacks with at least 14 career starts, plus two promising rookies. It's going to make for quite a training camp competition.

One would expect Grimes to start at one spot, with Marshall the favorite to start at the other. One way the Dolphins could loosen up the logjam is by trading one of the cornerbacks. Also keep in mind that Patterson is due $4.5 million in base salary in 2013, and it's unlikely he would be kept at that price if he's relegated to a backup role.

4. Where should the most heated battle for a starting job be?

This is one training camp where the starting jobs appear pretty set for the most part. At first glance, the only two spots that should feature heated competition at right guard and left defensive end.

At right guard, John Jerry is back after starting last season, but he should face a strong challenge from free agent pick-up Lance Louis. The wild card in this battle is the health of Louis, who was limited to conditioning work in the spring as he continued to recover from a torn ACL sustained last November.

At left defensive end, the only question is whether the Dolphins decide to move 2012 starter Jared Odrick inside to tackle permanently.

If that happens — remember, Odrick practiced all spring at defensive tackle — then Olivier Vernon should be considered the favorite to start at left end, particularly because Dion Jordan didn't practice all spring, is coming off shoulder surgery, and hadn't signed his rookie contract as of Saturday morning.

3. Which of the young tight ends can emerge and become a factor on offense?

The Dolphins took care of the starting spot in the offseason by signing Dustin Keller in free agency, but there are a lot of question marks behind him.

There also are a lot of intriguing possibilities, too, starting with rookie fourth-round pick Dion Sims, who certainly looks the part. The roster also includes 2012 third-round pick Michael Egnew, who needs to take a big step after a forgettable rookie season; Kyle Miller, who was inactive for the last six games last year after being claimed off waivers but looks like a gifted pass catcher; and Charles Clay, who is entering his third season having shown flashes but also battled inconsistency.

Keller's health also bears watching after he sat out the June minicamp with an undisclosed injury.

2. Should the Dolphins be worried about their running game?

The Dolphins have high hopes for Lamar Miller, who is slated to take over for Reggie Bush as the starting running back, and there appear to be plenty of reasons to feel confident.

First off, Miller has tons of natural ability and he displayed it at times during his rookie season. It also was great to hear Miller spending a lot of time this past month working with fellow University of Miami alum Frank Gore, a guy who clearly knows how to do it.

All that said, the Dolphins won't know the answer to this question until the regular season starts.

1. Can Ryan Tannehill take a step forward in his second season?

Did you really expect anything else? This is the NFL, and it always comes down to the quarterback.

The Dolphins have positioned themselves — after a strong offseason — to be able to make a big move in 2013 and the most important thing they did was give Tannehill a lot of weapons in the passing game.

With the Jets and Bills in rebuilding mode, and the Patriots more vulnerable than they have been in a while — that's so obvious, it shouldn't be asked of anybody, including Dolphins players! — the door is open for the Dolphins to make a big run at the playoffs.

But it's not going to happen without a big season from Tannehill, and he needs to set the stage in training camp.

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