Laremy Tunsil not guaranteed starting spot on Dolphins’ offensive line

June 23, 2016

DolphinsrookieLaremy Tunsilmight have been the top offensive line prospect in the NFL draft, but he’s still working to earn respect from the team’s veterans.

Tunsil spentmost of last week’s Dolphins minicamp working as the second-team left guardbehind Miami’s oft-struggling lineman Dallas Thomas.

“That’s how we’re rolling. You have to earn your spot,” head coach Adam Gase said of Tunsil’s situation. “I don’t think you’ve really seen anybody get plugged in and get anointed anything. Everybody is battling. That’s what we want. We want competition and we want guys to earn their spots.”

And the 21-year-old Lake City native had no problem with the arrangement.

“The message (left tackle Branden Albert) has been giving me is ‘Go 100 percent, rook.’ He always says ‘rook,’ ‘youngster.’ That’s a good thing to hear from a vet. He’s always inspiring, someone I can look up to.”

Tunsil should be the Dolphins’ left tackle of the future and he’s been soaking in as much as he can from Albert.

“Everything he does from the meeting room to everything on the field to going 100 percent — he’s teaching me everything,” Tunsil said. “He’s a vet. He’s been here nine years. He’s doing something right.”

While Tunsil acknowledges he has a lot to learn about playing in the NFL, the former Ole Miss standout said the transition from tackle to guard hasn’t been difficult.

“I’m just adjusting to a new position, but there’s nothing hard about it,” he said. “I’ve got to get in the playbook, get everything down, get in shape.”

Gase said it would have been more of a challenge for Tunsil to go from left tackle to right tackle than left tackle to left guard.

“When you put a guy on the left side, he’s playing the two positions that really they’re making the calls together whether it be in the run game or the pass game,” Gase said. “So it’s not like he’s learning something completely different.

“Whether it’s left guard or left tackle, it’s easy for him to go back and forth. It’s a big difference when you go from the right to the left. It’s a completely different view.”

Gase said Tunsil, the 13th selection in the draft, has “a lot of room to get better.”

“Any position you can play as a rookie, it’s a different animal,” Gase said. “We’re talking with him and a couple of other guys, talking about training camp is going to be another speed. Preseason is going to feel like another speed. And when you hit the regular season, it’s a completely different speed.”

Gase even mentioned the playoffs. The Dolphins haven’t appeared in a playoff game since the 2008 season and haven’t won a postseason game in 16 years.

“And then when you get to the playoffs, you’re talking about guys playing really for one thing,” Gase said. “You’ll see a completely different speed there.”

While it’s tough to evaluate offensive linemen in minicamp practices without pads, Tunsil said you can still get a feel for a player’s athleticism.

“But putting pads on is a different thing,” he said. “Just wait till we get the pads on. Everything should be good.”

Yet, Tunsil knows there is room to grow as he prepares for his rookie season.

“Everything needs to get better,” he said. “I still have to work everyday at the position.”