A squeaky wheel, Jordan Cameron is not.
But that’s not to say the versatile tight end would mind a little more grease.
At the midway point of his first season in Miami, Cameron has been largely a forgotten man in the Dolphins’ offense.
He is tied for 24th among NFL tight ends in catches (20) and ranks 19th in receiving yards (263).
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Here’s why: Cameron is tied for 16th in targets (43).
“Being a competitor, I want the ball,” Cameron said. “I want to help the team.”
And when the team’s losing and he isn’t producing? That’s a tough 1-2 punch.
Yet the 2013 Pro Bowler isn’t pulling a Keyshawn Johnson and demanding the damn ball. He’s saying all the right things publicly, and by all appearances, behind the scenes, too.
Bill Lazor dealt with bruised egos when receivers didn’t get the ball enough in 2014.
Not so in 2015, Lazor insisted recently; Cameron seems to be part of the improved culture.
At the weekly Touchdown Club luncheon Tuesday, Cameron said his role has been as “more of a blocking tight end” in Miami — which is remarkable, considering he had 80 receptions for the Browns in 2013.
But when asked if he has gone to Lazor and demanded a greater role, Cameron responded:
“All I know is, not that I do what I’m told, but in football, you’re asked to do different things and your role may change,” Cameron said. “Some weeks they throw you the ball. Some weeks they don’t. It’s one of those things that you’ve got to be mentally prepared for. It’s a tough adjustment, but I’ve been in the NFL long enough. It’s about being a pro and being professional about the role you’re given.”
Cameron is under contract through 2016, but like many Dolphins, his contract has a ballooning salary cap figure. His cap number jumps from $4.6 million this year to $9.5 million next, and the Dolphins would be on the hook for just $2 million of that if they cut him.
Still, Cameron seems more concerned about his head coach’s job security than his own.
Cameron knows Dan Campbell better than most; Campbell was the Dolphins’ tight ends coach before replacing Joe Philbin on an interim basis last month.
Dolphins decision-makers are open to giving him the job permanently, but only if the next eight games are appreciably better than the past two. Campbell’s mystique has faded after the Patriots and Bills outscored Miami by a combined margin of 69-24.
The analytics website Football Outsiders gives the Dolphins a 2 percent chance to make the playoffs.
And yet ...
“A lot of people can say we’re tanking, or we’re throwing in the towel, but nobody’s mind-set is like this on this team,” Cameron said. “We believe in the direction this organization is going. Everybody has tremendous faith in Dan Campbell. ... There’s not one bad thing I can say about Dan Campbell. I want him to be the head coach. Things take time. You’ve got to have some patience.”
Cameron added that players, not coaches, determine wins and losses. And he knows that, in a strange way, they have more control over Campbell’s future than he does.
“It kind of puts pressure on the whole thing,” Cameron said. “We want him here. Everyone loves him. We’d all run through a wall for this guy. We want to win for him. We just have to make it happen.”
▪ Jay Ajayi’s strong debut made Jonas Gray a luxury the Dolphins don’t believe they need. The Dolphins cut Gray on Tuesday, who was clearly fourth on the team’s four-running back depth chart in Sunday’s game.
Ajayi carried the ball five times for 41 yards against the Bills; Gray didn’t have an offensive snap.
The Dolphins used the roster space to bring back center Sam Brenner, who was cut by the team Saturday.
▪ The organization announced five more names to their 50th anniversary team Sunday: Glenn Blackwood, Vern Den Herder, Keith Jackson, Jim Jensen and John Offerdahl.