Miami Dolphins

Miami's top corner in 2017 looked the part Wednesday - you might be surprised who it is

Bobby McCain, shown in action last December, has quietly become one of Miami's most valuable defenders.
Bobby McCain, shown in action last December, has quietly become one of Miami's most valuable defenders. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

If Bobby McCain plays all summer like he did Wednesday, he could force the Dolphins to rethink their whole philosophy on tall corners.

By and large, bigger is better when it comes to defending the boundary.

The two corners expected to compete for the starting spot opposite Xavien Howard are Tony Lippett (6-3) and Cordrea Tankersley (6-1). McCain, now in his fourth NFL season, stands just 5-11.

But the team seems open to having McCain play some on the boundary, where he lined up for less than 10 percent of his 662 snaps from scrimmage last year. He graded out as the Dolphins' top corner in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus, and McCain might make it hard for his coaches to take him off the field.

McCain nearly picked off Ryan Tannehill on an out route thrown to the sideline and was strong in coverage throughout the team's open OTA practice.

"I have confidence," Gase said of playing McCain outside. "If Bobby goes out there, I feel good about it because he covers his guys, he can make plays on the ball when he’s outside. I’ve seen him do it in practice. We haven’t done it a whole bunch in games unless he absolutely has to.

"The spot that he plays, there’s so much nickel personnel that’s being played, he probably played 600-plus snaps last year," Gase added. "That’s the way the game is. If he had to play outside and then slide inside and do things like that, that’s a lot of plays. That’s a lot on his plate. That nickel spot is a tough position. You have to know a lot of things, know a lot of adjustments."

Miami Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain talks to the media about his interception late in the fourth quarter to help Miami defeat the New York Jets on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017.

The Dolphins' second cornerback job is one of relatively few position battles; Miami seems set at most spots.

Some other McCain stats from a year ago, all according to PFF: McCain had 402 snaps in coverage and allowed 44 receptions on 65 targets. Those 44 catches went for 431 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. When McCain was on the boundary, quarterbacks completed just 6 of 11 attempts for 64 yards.

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