Dolphins looking for Tunsil to anchor line at left tackle
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Laremy Tunsil’s old position is his new position, and the switch back to left tackle allows the Miami Dolphins’ second-year pro to better show his skills.
That’s the case even off the field.
“He was real quiet last year,” coach Adam Gase says. “He was trying to find his niche in the locker room. Now you can see he’s got some ability to talk a little trash every once in a while.
“So you can tell he’s having fun. I think he really enjoys playing left tackle again.”
Tunsil played that position so well at Ole Miss he was the Dolphins’ top draft pick in 2016. But with veteran Branden Albert entrenched at left tackle, they moved Tunsil to left guard, where he started 14 games as a rookie and earned good reviews.
Albert was traded in March to the Jacksonville Jaguars before retiring this summer. His departure allowed the Dolphins to move Tunsil back to his natural position, and they anticipate he’ll be there for years to come.
“He has all the tools to be a really, really, really good player,” offensive line coach Chris Foerster says.
He’s not there yet. During the preseason, when almost everyone is described as terrific, coaches’ reviews have been lukewarm. Tunsil allowed a sack of Jay Cutler in last week’s game at Philadelphia.
“Laremy has been good in practice,” Gase says. “I know he was really frustrated last week; it’s rare for him to get beat in a game. I just want him to keep getting better and keep getting comfortable with Jay back there.”
It’s uncertain how much Tunsil or the other starters will play in Thursday’s exhibition finale at Minnesota.
Tunsil has excellent footwork given his 6-foot-5, 318-pound frame. Gase says tackle is a better fit for the young lineman because it’s hard to get around him, and he redirects pass rushers well.
Plus, Tunsil’s just more comfortable there.
“When he plays tackle, that’s his thing,” Gase says. “He’s playing the position that really he has been playing his whole life.”
The Dolphins will count on Tunsil to help solidify a line that has been a problem for years. Mike Pouncey is back at center after playing in only five games last season, but right tackle Ja’Wuan James is coming off a disappointing 2016. The guard positions are the biggest question marks on offense.
Miami will miss Albert’s veteran leadership, too, which was especially valuable at such an important position. Last year he described as “a badge of honor” the job of protecting the quarterback’s blind side.
“I could also say it’s a badge of honor,” Tunsil says. “Branden Albert taught me a lot of things and how to play left tackle, how to play guard and just understanding the game of football.”
Another mentor of sorts is Tyron Smith, even though Tunsil has never met him. Tunsil spent time during the offseason studying videotape of the Dallas Cowboys’ two-time All-Pro tackle
“Tyron Smith — that’s a monster,” Tunsil says. “If you want to be the best, you’ve got to look at the best.”
To Tunsil, that means excelling in the running game as well as pass protection.
“I want to be great at both, not just one,” he says. “I don’t want to be one-dimensional and good at pass and horrible at run.”
He has a ways to go to greatness. But the Dolphins believe he’s headed there, now that he’s back at tackle.