Lining up: Dolphins agree with Carey

Originally Published: July 30, 2004
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

There will be some mixed emotions for Vernon Carey when the Miami Dolphins first-round draft choice reports for the team's first practice Saturday morning.

On one hand, the former University of Miami offensive lineman is thrilled his first NFL contract is completed, with ESPN.com learning the Dolphins reached an agreement late Friday night. Details of the contract, which should be signed Saturday, were not immediately available.

The flip side: One of the reasons Carey was so thrilled to have been selected by the Dolphins was that it would provide him the opportunity to carve out holes for running back Ricky Williams, with whom he had developed a friendship.

Sources close to Carey said he was shaken by last week's news that Williams had decided to retire. He can't dwell too long, however, on things that he can't control, especially since Miami is counting on him to quickly move into the lineup.

The Dolphins are undergoing a wholesale shakeup on the line, with second-year left tackle Wade Smith likely to be the lone returning starter. With the departure of Williams, the unit will come under even closer scrutiny. Carey figures to earn a starting spot, perhaps at right tackle.

A powerful in-line blocker, and a potentially dominant force, the 363-pound Carey was projected by many NFL scouts to be a better guard prospect. But he was worked this spring at tackle, the position at which he primarily lined up for the Hurricanes, and will compete with little-used veteran John St. Clair at right tackle.

Even if he does not win the tackle job, there is a chance Carey will slide inside and start at right guard.

In 23 college games, Carey, who possesses great natural strength and explosiveness, participated in 1,529 snaps. The coaches credited him with 122 knockdown blocks and 16 touchdown blocks.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.