Dolphins Defense: Can NT Paul Soliai Step Up?
The Miami Dolphins found a way to play adequate defense against the run in 2009 as they were eighteenth overall. With a young secondary, it will be vitally important that the Dolphins play good up front this season but that will be a challenge without nose tackle Jason Ferguson.
The 35-year old veteran Ferguson has been suspended for the first eight games of next season for violating NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. Because of this unfortunate news, young nose tackle Paul Saliai will be asked to fill the veterans’ shoes and hold up through the first half of the season.
Seeing that the Dolphins run a three-four style defense it will be imperative that Saliai plays well as he is the back bone of the front line. Because of this coach Tony Sparano challenged his fourth year veteran and commented that he is one of the players that needs to take the next step in order for the team to succeed this season.
Saliai does have the size to be a good nose tackle as he stands in at 6-4 and 355 pounds. Just his weight alone out weighs veteran Ferguson by 45 pounds and that is a nice extra load of man in the middle for the Dolphins.
Still, weight alone doesn’t guarantee a lineman will have success, and we don’t know is Saliai will break down in the early season Miami weather. At least Saliai did get five starts under his belt last season, filling in for Ferguson so hopefully this will help him.
Even if Saliai has a good year this season it wouldn’t hurt the Dolphins to draft a nose tackle in the middle to later part of the draft as depth.
NFL fantasy football player rankings writer Sean E. Douglas: fantasy-info.com