Top-pick Tunsil still trying to make Dolphins' first team
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Miami first-round draft pick Laremy Tunsil has yet to make the first team at guard in training camp, which suggests the Dolphins have an established offensive line.
But they don't. The Dolphins ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing and 26th in sacks last year, and this summer they've shuffled personnel at guard trying to find the best combination.
Tunsil is widely expected to be part of that group, but so far he has lined up mostly with the second team while adjusting to the transition from left tackle - his position at Ole Miss - to left guard.
''Every day I'm going to keep getting better,'' Tunsil said Wednesday. ''It's up to the coaches - at the end of the day - what they're going to do. I'm not concerned about it.''
For Tunsil, the relative obscurity of being a second-team guard on the depth chart is a big change from April, when he became the biggest story of the draft. Once touted as a potential No. 1 overall choice, Tunsil fell to Miami with the 13th pick after a bizarre video was posted on his Twitter account showing him smoking from a gas mask connected to a bong.
Now he has gone off the grid celebrity-wise, which isn't easy in football-crazed South Florida.
''I really don't get noticed that much,'' Tunsil said. ''But I don't go out much. I'm a low-key guy. I stay to myself. I stay home and cook. I don't consider myself a celebrity. I consider myself a regular person.''
Reviews from the Dolphins about Tunsil's work ethic, attitude and ability have been uniformly favorable.
''Laremy is an extremely athletic guy - he flashes at times,'' quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. ''He is playing a position he hasn't played a lot, so he's learning, but he's learning fast. If we can keep him on that track, he's going to be a force for us.''
Also in the mix at the guard spots are veterans Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner, who struggled as starters last year, and Jermon Bushrod, a converted left tackle.
First-year coach Adam Gase has begun to bristle at daily questions regarding Tunsil's status.
''This is a league where confidence does matter,'' Gase said. ''And I've seen rookies before where you throw them in because you're like, `Well, he's got to play,' and then two years later everybody's calling for his head. So right now we're going through the process that we need to go through.
''I like what he's doing. I like the fact that he's coming out there and giving everything he has.''
Tunsil said the transition to guard hasn't required major adjustments.
''There are different techniques you've got to learn,'' he said. ''But you've got your hand in the ground. It's football.''
Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said this week he doesn't know who will start at the guards in the season opener Sept. 11. Gase declined to say even who will start in Friday's exhibition game at Dallas.
''If I do get that start against Dallas, it would be nice,'' Tunsil said.
The offensive line has been a chronic problem during Miami's seven-year playoff drought. This year the line could include four former first-round picks - Tunsil, center Mike Pouncey and tackles Branden Albert and Ja'Wuan James - which raises expectations the blocking might finally be better.
''I have an idea what direction we're heading,'' Gase said. ''Now it's about finding the right five. We're still in that process.''
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