Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 8/6/12

Although the NFL has transformed itself into the ultimate reality show, the actual reality show based on NFL training camp, HBO’s Hard Knocks, kicks off Tuesday.

The show might not have as compelling of a focal point as it did with the Jets’ Rex Ryan, he who hyperbolized even the act of going to get a snack.

Newly rechristened Chad Johnson will do his best to reprise his enthralling comedic performance from HBO’s series featuring the Bengals.

That series produced highlights like “kiss da baby,” “child please,” “what’s up with the what’s up?” and a revelation that Johnson is actually an adequate field goal kicker if needed.

Although it remains to see what compelling tales that the crew uncovers on the fringes of the roster, a closer look at a few front-burner camp storylines might give an indication of what to expect in the first year of the Joe Philbin regime.

Philbin has stated that his newly-released depth chart is a “fluid situation,” but which way will these waters flow?

 
Quarterback Battle

The Dolphins selected quarterback Ryan Tannehill with their first round pick, reuniting him with his head coach at Texas A&M, current offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. In minicamp Tannehill threw a few passes to the wrong colored jerseys, but reports during the first week of camp have been far more favorable.

By all indications, David Garrard has outperformed every contestant in this position battle and received the top spot on the initial depth chart. Matt Moore has accuracy issues, which make him ill-suited for the Philbin/Sherman West Coast scheme.

While Tannehill has instructed his position-mates on the nuances of the offense he ran in college, he was initially listed as the third-team quarterback.

Is Tannehill’s position on the depth merely a formality, a way of making a rookie earn his way into the starting lineup?

Or did Philbin learn from his time with Aaron Rodgers that an unpolished signal-caller learns more on the sideline than under center?

Garrard has been a savvy, high-percentage passer which, with a less-than-stellar receiving corps, could be the best option for a team in a state of flux.


Running Back Depth Chart

Another rookie buried at the bottom of the depth chart is running back Lamar Miller. With the installation of the zone-blocking scheme that Philbin used during his time with the Packers, a speedy, one-cut, pass-catching back like Miller has the perfect skill-set for this offense.

He currently resides behind Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Steve Slaton. Thomas had an abysmal rookie season last year, and his tentative running style clashes with what is required in the Dolphins’ offense.

After beginning his career with a bang, Slaton’s performance fell off until he was given the boot while in Houston. He was an effective runner in Houston's zone scheme, but lacks Miller’s speed.

Is Miller’s position on the depth chart a similar motivational ploy as being used with Tannehill, or an indication that he is not ready for a timeshare with Bush?


Transition to a 4-3 Defense

The defense in Miami has long played solidly, if not spectacularly. With the new coaching staff brings a new coordinator, Kevin Coyle, Cincinnati’s long-time defensive backs coach. He now begins the transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 base defense.

The defense had already shown a few 4-3 looks in passing downs, how does this defense play to their strengths?

The most natural transition will be Paul Soliai as his duties will remain similar as they were as a 3-4 nose tackle. Randy Starks will fit in well as a penetrating 3-technique tackle with pocket-collapsing ability.

Formerly an outside linebacker, Koa Misi has enough speed that he could be used in a linebacking role in early downs and on the line as a pass rusher.

Will Jared Odrick make his mark moving to out as a 4-3 defensive end after an unproductive stint in the 5-technique? Coyle could take advantage of his size-speed combination at 6-5 and 303 pounds by moving him inside on pass-rushing downs.

Speaking of size, Cameron Wake excels as a pass rusher from a three-point stance. Does he have the size to hold up playing the run on the line?

Watching middle linebacker Karlos Dansby play in his new scheme will be a treat. The playmaking linebacker is better suited as a “Mike” in the 4-3, and should be creating highlights left and right.

Between position battles and  Johnson’s mouth, there HBO will have no problem finding plenty of realitly-show-worthy material for this season’s Hard Knocks.
 
 



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