Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top Training Camp Battles #8: Starting Center

Looking to replace Samson Satele with a tougher, stronger center, the Miami Dolphins signed center Jake Grove to a five-year, $29 million contract last offseason.

Despite playing in just 12 games, Grove was the second-most productive run-blocking center in the National Football League in 2009, trailing only the New York Jets' Nick Mangold.

Nevertheless, the Dolphins have said that Grove won't be handed the starting job in 2010, due in large part to the great play of backup Joe Berger.

A former Dolphin and Dallas Cowboys, Berger was brought in last year as a versatile backup interior lineman. Despite starting just six of 16 games, Berger ranked as the 12th best center in the NFL.

While both players were highly productive in 2009, I don't consider this much of a battle in all honesty.

The important thing is that Grove played well, and he's given no reason for the Dolphins to take away his job.

The Dolphins have equally no reason to remove Grove from the starting lineup, given his high productivity and the large amount of money invested in him.

Grove's durability has always been a concern and was again in his first season with the Dolphins, but he's the team's best option and is getting paid serious starter money.

Meanwhile Berger, while a pleasant surprise in 2009, is still better suited for a top backup role.

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