DAVIE, Fla. -- All eyes were on the center position as the Miami Dolphins opened their 2014 training camp Friday. The Dolphins revealed the player they initially think can replace injured Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey -- and it's starting right guard Shelley Smith.
In fact, Miami reshuffled three positions on its first-team offensive line Friday compared to organized team activities and minicamp. Smith moved from right guard to center, Dallas Thomas moved from left guard to right guard and recent free-agent pickup Daryn Colledge was plugged in at left guard.
Although nothing is set in stone in July, it's an interesting starting five for the Dolphins, who will have five new offensive linemen play in Week 1 of the regular season against the New England Patriots.
"I think we have a lot of potential and we've got a good group of guys in the room," Smith said of the offensive line. "We have a good coaching staff and I feel like we're working our butts off to fulfill our potential."
Pouncey could miss as many as eight weeks of the regular season. Therefore, Miami's coaching staff must get this decision right if the Dolphins plan to improve last year's shaky performance on offense. Miami was ranked No. 27th in total offense and set a franchise record with 58 sacks allowed.
The good news is Miami has about six weeks and four preseason games before the start of the regular season to figure out this quandary on the offensive line.
"We're always attempting to get the five best players that we possibly can out on the field at one time," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. "I will tell you that we will be looking at a number of different combinations. This is practice No. 1. This is the way we want to look at it today."
The Dolphins invested a lot of many and resources to improve their offensive line. Miami spent $47 million to solidify the left tackle spot with Albert, used a first-round pick on starting right tackle Ja'Waun James and signed Smith in free agency to a two-year, $5.5 million contract.
The offense was shaky Friday. For example, the first two plays involved a timeout and fumbled snap. In fact, Smith and Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill had two fumbled exchanges during team drills. That must be fixed if Smith aims to replace Pouncey long term.
"I put it on me, that's always my responsibility," Smith said of the poor snaps. "That's something we have to keep working on and getting better. Turnovers and ball security are big emphasis."