Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top Training Camp Battles #10: Starting Cornerback

In nearly a dozen articles over the next week, I'll be outlining what I believe are the top training camp battles for the Miami Dolphins in 2010.

Starting at No. 10 is the starting cornerback/third cornerback battle, between Will Allen, Vontae Davis, and Sean Smith.

Before a torn ACL ended his season prematurely, Allen was the Dolphins' No. 1 shutdown corner and totaled 21 tackles, two interceptions, and six pass deflections in six games.

The Dolphins' first-round pick in 2009, Davis stepped into Allen's starting role and opened nine of 16 contests, recording 51 tackles, 11 pass deflections, and a team-high four interceptions.

Smith started every game for the Dolphins as a second-round rookie in 2009, amassing 38 tackles and 12 pass deflections.

With Allen coming back healthy, it'll be interesting to see where the 31-year-old veteran fits in with the two promising young corners in Davis and Smith.

While Allen has been exceptional since he arrived in Miami and is obviously the team's most seasoned and sound cornerback, it seems unlikely the team will play him so much that it impedes the progress of the younger players.

And that is the way it should be. The team doesn't have any proven depth behind their top three corners, so Allen is obviously going to play significantly regardless of his specific title.

However, the Dolphins would also be best served in the long-term by starting Davis and Smith and letting them continue to grow into the elite cornerback tandem they have the potential to be.

In the end, I expect all three to play extensively. But I do believe that Allen won't get such significant playing time that it impedes the progress of the team's future starting cornerbacks.

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