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Deiter Focused on Details, Not Roster Moves

The Miami Dolphins may or may not add another center to their roster, but either way 2021 starter Michael Deiter is looking to improve

Center was viewed by many as a position of need for the Miami Dolphins heading into the offseason, but the team passed on selecting an interior offensive lineman in the 2022 NFL draft and have not added a veteran center in free agency as of Mother's Day.

Although some might view Miami not adding depth at center as a show of faith in Michael Deiter, he isn’t letting it get to his head.

“I’m excited that I have a chance to come out here and compete to play for the Dolphins another year,” Deiter said. “That’s really all I can focus on. Obviously, (signing another center) didn’t happen, but it’s not something that I’m really worried about. I just need to get ready to compete again this year.”

Regardless of how Deiter feels about Miami’s center situation, he’s the front-runner to be the starter when Week 1 rolls around. If that is the case, he’ll have to continue to improve if the Dolphins wants to vault themselves from the bottom of the NFL’s rushing rankings to near the top.

Deiter believes he’s better than he was at this time last year before he made his first nine NFL starts at center after starting 15 games at guard as a rookie in 2019.

“A lot better,” Deiter said. “I’m just taking a lot more reps (and have) a little more experience. Obviously I’m not where I need to be. I can be a lot better still. There’s a lot more growth to have. But I’m definitely more confident this offseason than I was a year ago. Not that it was my first time doing it but it had been a little while. It’s going good.”

Right now, Deiter’s competition at the position includes the likes of Arkansas undrafted rookie free agent Ty Clary, and potentially former Dallas Cowboys starting guard Connor Williams, who got a brief look at center in the preseason last summer.

New Year, New System, New Approach for Dolphins

Deiter has played in a different offensive system every season since entering the league in 2019, and the 2022 season will be no different. Despite a lack of consistency, Deiter is focused on one thing — cutting it loose.

“It’s the same in the respect that the center has to get everyone on the same page, got to get the IDs, get the whole O-line ready to just cut it loose and be right assignment-wise,” Deiter said. “But then the whole O-line, it’s a system where we can just play with confidence and cut it loose and really not worry — worry about winning and not worry about losing. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be a ton of fun because we can play with confidence.”

Miami moved Dieter from guard to center in 2020 following his rookie season hoping it would boost his play and provide depth at the position behind Ted Karras.

After Karras left via free agency last offseason, Deiter took over as the starting center. He finished with a 60.6 PFF grade in 2021, which was easily the highest of his career. In 546 snaps last season, he allowed only one quarterback sack and committed just three penalties.

Deiter is looking to build on his performance from last season while also adapting to learning from new offensive line coach Matt Applebaum, who was hired from Boston College this offseason.

“So far he’s been really cool,” Deiter said about Applebaum. “He’s a detailed guy, an intense guy, but we’re having a lot of fun. He’s doing a really good job of keeping everything fun. He’s been a great teacher so far. We’re learning a ton. It’s going to be a lot of fun working with him. So far it’s been a lot of fun. He’s definitely a cool dude. He’s fun to be around but intense and a heck of a teacher.”

Deiter said he was excited to work with new head coach Mike McDaniel and offensive coordinator Frank Smith because they have led successful rushing attacks in the past.

Last season under McDaniel, the 49ers finished seventh in the NFL in total rushing yards, while the Dolphins finished 30th in that category.

“You can just tell talking with them that running the ball is something that is important to all three of them and it’s cool,” Deiter said, referencing Applebaum along with McDaniel and Smith. “As an O-lineman, that’s always pretty refreshing to hear. The way I think they’re so successful is the detail, the way they break it down to make it almost simple and how you can be effective, and how you can run the ball effectively. It’s cool to have three guys who are smart and care about the run and want to get it going no matter what.”