Sports

Dolphins explain their decision on Eichenberg

A six-pack of Miami Dolphins notes on a Wednesday:

In six games since moving to left tackle, Liam Eichenberg has allowed six sacks and 32 quarterback pressures.

So why do the Dolphins want to continue playing Eichenberg at that position? And what skills do the Dolphins believe give him a chance to be a good left tackle, a position he played well at Notre Dame?

“We know this kid,” offensive line coach Lemuel Jeanpierre said answered. “He’s tough. He works at it. We believe he’s going to get right.

“His skill set allows him to be a good player. Liam has the tools and technique, the quickness, the fundamentals, the smarts, all those tools. Right now, [any mistake] seems glaring because as all you guys have pointed it out. We’ll keep working to make sure [mistakes are] minimized.”

Lack of appealing options could be an unstated reason. The Dolphins didn’t believe Greg Little — who hasn’t played a snap this season — was any better than Eichenberg, and he’s now on injured reserve. after being injured in practice.

The Dolphins believe Austin Jackson — who they thought would be their left tackle of the future — is better at guard.

Robert Hunt can play right guard or right tackle, but the Dolphins haven’t shown an inclination to try him at left tackle.

Starting right tackle Jesse Davis has played left tackle before, but that’s not his strongest position. And rookie seventh-round pick Larnel Coleman is out for the season with a knee injury.

Jeanpierre was asked why the Dolphins have resisted flipping right tackle Davis and right guard Hunt, considering they played better last December when Davis played guard and Hunt played tackle.

Is it because you see such great potential as Hunt at guard? Is it wanting continuity?

“Those are factors that play a part,” Jeanpierre said. “It’s important to have guys play together for a while. There’s a certain chemistry you develop. You could flip them. I couldn’t disagree with that thought process .They’ve done it before; last year they played those spots before. The reason why we’re doing it is always going to stay in-house.

“Everything is still on table, like coach [Brian Flores] said. We still move guys around in practice in case a guy gets a shoe [knocked off].”

Hunt said after Wednesday’s practice that he remains at guard. He declined to say if coaches have asked his preference.

As a way to combat the speed of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Dolphins played Jerome Baker on the edge around 15 plays last week, with Duke Riley and Elandon Roberts at inside linebacker.

“I thought it worked out well,” inside linebackers coach Anthony Campanile said. “Duke has done a very good job throughout the season when he’s been in there.”

Could Baker — who had seven sacks last season — be a good edge player if he did it more?

“It’s fun for me where I can be inside linebacker one week and line up outside another week, and the offense would be surprised,” he said. “They do a good job putting me in different spots.”

Eric Rowe said transitioning from an every-down starting safety to a backup who still plays a lot but not as much was “difficult… the beginning. But I understand the nature of the business. It took me awhile to come [to peace] with that. I’m still looking to help the team. When I’m out there, I’ve tried to make the best of it.”

Rowe has helped by forcing fumbles the past two games. “It’s always been an emphasis,” he said.

Rowe has played 56 percent of Miami’s snaps, compared with 89 percent last year.

The Dolphins protected these four practice squad players from poaching this week: new defensive tackle Andrew Billings (the former Bengals starter), former Dolphins part-time starting guard/center Evan Boehm, defensive back Jamal Perry and running back Gerrid Doaks (who keeps being protected but hasn’t appeared in a game).

Billings could be needed if Christian Wilkins misses time; he missed practice Wednesday.

Quick stuff Part 1: Tua Tagoavailoa said his injured finger “feels good” and he’s no longer limited…

Quarterbacks coach Charlie Frye disputed any notion that Tagovailoa’s arm is limited when he’s healthy. “Tua has the arm to make all the throws,” Frye said…

Jets coach Robert Saleh said he’s starting Joe Flacco over Mike White this week because Flacco’s experience is valuable against a blitz-heavy team like Miami, which made Flacco look bad in a 24-0 Dolphins win last October. Rookie Zach Wilson is limited with a knee injury.

Quick stuff Part 2: Jaylen Waddle is sixth in the league in receptions with 60. He said he wasn’t aware of that but said that’s “pretty nice.” Tagovailoa says “everyone knows who we’re going to on third down.”

CBS is sending Sunday’s Dolphins-Jets game to 9 percent of the country, including South Florida, New York City and Naples/Fort Myers….

Hunt said he spent time swimming in the Everglades over the weekend, saw an alligator 30 feet away and jumped out of the water. His girlfriend, curiously, jumped back in.

Here’s my Wednesday piece with news from Brian Flores’ news conference.

Barry Jackson has written for the Miami Herald since 1986 and has written the Florida Sports Buzz column since 2002.





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