On a team coached by Tony Sparano and an organization overseen by Bill Parcells, you better believe that there is a definite focus on the play of both the offensive and defensive lines. As we continue our pre-season preview of the Dolphins roster, we move into the 60’s, which means more attention on those trench players so beloved by the coach…
#68 Richie Incognito: One of the newcomers fighting for a spot at guard, Incognito is anything but incognito on the field, and is probably known by casual fans as much for his history of post-whistle fouls as he is his actual play. This does him a disservice, though, because in reality, Incognito is a very good offensive lineman. Originally a third round choice of the Rams in the 2005 draft, Incognito was signed as a free agent by the Dolphins this off-season after finishing last year as a member of the Bills. Keep an eye on #68 during camp as he battles for a starting job the only way he knows how.
#67 Joe Berger: My favorite Joe Berger fact is that he went to Michigan Tech. That’s right, not Michigan or Michigan State or Eastern Michigan or Western Michigan or Central Michigan, but Michigan Tech. In case you’re curious…and I know you are…Michigan Tech–home of the Huskies–is located in Hougton, Michigan. If you can’t think of any other Michigan Techers in the League, don’t feel bad. The only other players to ever go from that school to the NFL are QB Dave Walter (Giants, 1987) and RB Jim VanWagner (49ers, 1977). Anyway, Berger, a center, has a chance to unseat expected starter Jake Grove (he started each of the last six games in ’09) though it won’t be easy. Still, though, Michigan Tech. Awesome.
#66 Donald Thomas: Back to the guards, which if you haven’t noticed by now, is shaping up to be a really intense battle during camp. Thomas played in all 16 games last season and made 12 starts at right guard. Again, though, the competition is fierce here, with guys like Incognito, Cory Procter, Nate Garner, and John Jerry all going after two jobs. Thomas, by the way, never played football until he got to UConn. In high school, he was a basketball and baseball star. Dude is 6’4″ and 310lbs. He was a pitcher. Would love to have stepped into the box against him. Not really.
#64 Jake Grove: As mentioned, Grove is the expected starter at center after the Fins signed him to a free agent contract last off-season. In 2009, Grove started each of the first 10 games before an ankle injury sidelined him and allowed Berger to pick up some significant playing time. Originally a second round pick by the Raiders in 2004, Canes fans may remember him playing at Virginia Tech. Grove was the first center taken in that 2004 draft.
#63 Andrew Gardner: A second year tackle out of Georgia Tech, Gardner was selected by the Dolphins in the sixth round of the 2009 draft and made just one appearance as a rookie, seeing some action as a backup against the Bills in late November. A four-year starter in college, the 6’6 Gardner is a guy to keep in mind as time goes on, though he is expected to once again be in a reserve role here in 2010.
#62 Travis Ivey: A rookie free agent pick up this summer, Ivey is one big dude. Listed at 6’4 and 325lbs., he has the size to play at the nose in the Dolphins 3-4 scheme. During his college career at Maryland, Ivey broke his foot as a sophomore but fought back to start the final 16 games of his collegiate career. Should be fun to watch him during training camp as he competes for time as a backup at nose tackle.
#61 Cory Procter: Without a doubt, one of the most interesting guys on this team. Sure, he’s part of the big pileup competing for the two open guard spots on the offensive line, but Procter is also a definite character. Why is he so interesting? Start with the fact that he’s a drummer in the band Free Reign. That’s right, one of the newest Dolphins lineman is a heavy metal drummer in a band that includes a couple of other NFLers, including Cowboys tackle Marc Colombo. If I have my way, expect him to be a regular guest on the radio show. Check the video below to get your Free Reign on:
#60 Andrew Hartline: Let’s answer your first question first: Andrew is not Brian’s brother. A 6’5, 300lb. offensive lineman, the larger Hartline was a standout at Central Michigan, where he started 52 straight games–the second longest streak in NCAA history. After being activated from the practice squad last November, Hartline appeared in two games for the Fins.
So there’s a look at the 60’s and some offensive and defensive linemen. Tomorrow, on the first day of training camp, we get to know the 50’s, which means we’ll be taking a good look at one of the most pivotal positions on this team, the linebackers. There’s newcomer Karlos Dansby to get excited about, but the team must also replace the departed Jason Taylor and Joey Porter.
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