Fins WR Carroo speaks with reporters
Perhaps they’ve got truth serum in the water bottles at Dolphins camp this spring.
Because most every player who had a bad 2016 season has discussed their failings in unflinching detail with reporters.
First it was defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. Then Jakeem Grant had his turn on the shrink’s couch.
On Wednesday, Leonte Carroo bared his soul.
“Last year, [I] just didn't have as [good] of a year as I wanted to,” said Carroo, the Dolphins’ second year receiver. “Kind of took being drafted for granted. Kinda wasn't doing the little things right I was doing right in college. Was more excited about the whole draft process and didn't really focus on being an NFL player. I realize that this is my job and I'm taking NFL life more serious and becoming a better student of the game and a better player.”
The Dolphins gave up three draft picks to take Carroo in the third round last year. He caught all of three passes as a rookie, and had fallen so far out of favor, the Dolphins benched him for the last two weeks of the regular season and their playoff game. Undrafted Rashawn Scott played ahead of him, which Carroo acknowledged Wednesday was a blow.
“It definitely made me upset,” Carroo said. “It had nothing to do with the coaches or any of the players. I was just upset with myself because it was totally on me. I was playing bad on special teams, I was performing poorly in practice, I wasn't doing enough. I wasn't asking my coaches to watch extra film or anything like that. Just not really focused on being a better player last year.”
While he made no excuses for his behavior, Carroo tried to explain it Wednesday. He had been a starter ever since Pop Warner, he said, but that wasn’t going to happen in his first year with the Dolphins. Not with Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker ahead of him. And it got to him.
That dynamic hasn’t changed in Year 2. Stills signed a big contract to remain in Miami with Landry and Parker. Those three are again expected to get the bulk of the snaps this season, assuming they stay healthy.
And yet, Carroo insists that his “whole mindset and philosophy is different.”
“I'm attacking practice every single day to get better because I want to prove to these coaches that I'm going to be a better special teams player and I'm going to be a better receiver,” Carroo said. “When we went on that winning streak last year, just to see how guys were doing, it just made me upset that I wasn't doing anything to contribute as a third-round draft pick. This year I want to focus on just having that respect for my team and my coaches. Just to go out there and make plays and contribute to the winning that we're going to have this year."
Carroo knows he’ll need to make special teams his No. 1 priority, and has spent the offseason conditioning his body to contribute. He’s lost 10 pounds and Stills has gotten him hooked on Pilates, which Carroo insists has improved his flexibility and mobility.
“Carroo is moving a lot better,” special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said. “He has actually looked like he has really taken the offseason seriously in terms of movement and moving around.”
Teams often give high draft picks a redshirt year to figure out the NFL. But they don’t usually give players two redshirt years. Carroo will need to beat out a bunch of talented young receivers, including perhaps Scott, to keep his job.
“Last year, the coaches and my teammates had a lot of expectations for me,” Carroo said. “I did a poor job fulfilling those expectations. You last, last year is totally behind me. I'm a new guy this year. I'm a new person. I'm just excited for these OTA's, these next couple of practices and then training camp. And just controlling what I can control. And that's just getting better on the field every single day and proving to these coaches that I'm not the same Carroo from last year. I'm a different player. And I'm ready for the new year.”