This is it ladies and gentleman. The last training camp preview means the 2010 season officially kicks off tomorrow for the Dolphins. And good thing I waited until the last minute to preview the defensive ends, with all of the acquisitions that have gone down since Phillip Merling was sidelined for the season.
Since then, the Dolphins have added Marques Douglas, Montavious Stanely, who has prototypical defensive end size, but will reportedly work at nose tackle, and Charles Grant, who should officially sign the deal that has been agreed upon today.
That figures to induce a nice, healthy competition starting tomorrow. The Dolphins are set on one side with Kendall Langford, but the other remains up for grabs. Eventually, the team has to hope first-round pick Jared Odrick takes over, but he's going to have to beat out a couple proven veterans who have a combined 256 games of starting experience under their belts.
Kendall Langford: Perhaps, the most underrated player on the entire defense, Langford has been solid and reliable for two years now. As a 3-4 defensive end, you typically don't get the credit the 4-3 pass rushing types do. But die-hard Dolphin fans know how valuable Langford is to the run defense.
His stats don't jump off the page at you (43 tackles, 2.5 sacks in 09'), but Pro Football Focus does a nice job of discovering how good he was a year ago. The site ranks his 09' performance 7th among all 3-4 defensive ends in the league. Not quite Pro Bowl caliber, but very solid work, nonetheless.
Jared Odrick: The 28th overall pick has yet to sign a contract, but you would think they are close. The team reportedly tried to hammer out a deal yesterday, but haven't quite come to terms yet. The signing of Devin McCourty, who was selected one slot ahead of Odrick at 27th, surely makes things easier for the two parties, as Odrick's deal figures to be worth slightly less.
Once business is taken care of, Odrick is going to have his hands full trying to earn a starting job. The Dolphins do like to rotate their DE's frequently, however, which means Odrick is going to get his snaps regardless.
Marques Douglas: Douglas may only have one or two years left, but at 33 years old, he's fresh off a 64 tackle season for the Jets, where he was as solid as ever against the run. If he shows no signs of slowing down in camp, he could be the favorite to snag the vacant starting defensive end job.
Even though, he would likely concede time to Odrick frequently in order to stay fresh, and would undoubtedly sub out on passing situations, as he's a non-factor rushing the quarterback.
The ideal situation is still Odrick having a fantastic camp and starting form day one, but in the likely event there is a bit of a learning curve as he adjust to the scheme and the speed of the league, Douglas would provide much needed stability as Odrick develops.