Miami Dolphins

Concerns about Gesicki, the challenge of replacing Suh and old questions 'return'

Dolphins rookie tight end Mike Gesicki needs to show much more to move up Miami's depth chart.
Dolphins rookie tight end Mike Gesicki needs to show much more to move up Miami's depth chart.

Mike Gesicki had one heck of a catch.

You should have seen it.

Unfortunately, no one outside of the Dolphins organization did.

Gesicki flashed some of the talent that convinced the Dolphins he was a better option in Round 2 than Dallas Goedert. But it came in a session closed to reporters.

In the four practices open to reporters this spring, the rookie out of Penn State has been a non-factor. He has even looked lost at times.

As a result, his reps have largely come with the backups this spring, behind returning veterans A.J. Derby and MarQueis Gray.

Now, if the calendar read early September instead of early June, this would be a flashing red light. Instead, it's one of countless unresolved story lines as the Dolphins near their summer break.

"Everything in this league is earned," Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. "You’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to go out there and do it. Coach [Adam] Gase is a believer in working. You guys know him. He’s a grinder. He came up a unique, hard, long way and he believes that everyone should go that route."

Loggains continued: ". Mike is a little bit unique. Durham [Smythe, the Dolphins' other rookie tight end] is a ‘Y’ and Mike G is more of a … We’ve got to find out exactly what he can and can’t do and what he can and can’t handle early. As the season goes and the offseason goes and training camp, his package will expand and his routes will expand as we found out what he can and can’t do."

Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier talks about their selection of Penn State's Mike Gesicki with the 42nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Suh-persized shoes to fill

The Dolphins need to figure out a way to replace not just Ndamukong Suh's tackles and sacks, but also his 877 snaps from scrimmage. He was on the field for 84 percent of the Dolphins' defensive plays last year.

The Dolphins' plan: A by-committee approach.

And that committee could include Vincent Taylor, a third-day draft pick in the 2017 draft who had 11 tackles as a rookie.

"It’s hard losing a guy like Suh just knowing what he’s capable of doing; but at the end of the day, it’s a business decision," Taylor said. "I know all of the things when I was coming in, what he taught me, so I learned some of the things that he taught me."

Taylor will likely be competing with Akeem Spence and probably William Hayes for snaps behind Jordan Phillips and Davno Godchaux. None of those players have Suh's pedigree. But together, this might be a better defensive front.

"[It] allows guys to play faster and give it all they’ve got since we’ll be rotating a lot," Taylor said. "I think guys can go out there and [defensive line] coach Kris [Kocurek] has us running to the ball. If you do that every play, you just know another guy is coming in to pick up where you left off at, so it’ll only help us out as a unit."

Kick-starting a competition

Nothing has ever been given to Jakeem Grant, and so why would the Dolphins' return job be any different?

Grant returned the majority of the Dolphins' kickoffs and all but 12 of their punts last year. Their only other punt returner, Jarvis Landry, is gone.

And yet, Dolphins special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi will not simply hand the job to Grant this year. In fact, it might be more of group effort than in years past.

Grant's biggest competition seems to be Danny Amendola, who was the Patriots' featured guy a year ago.

"We’re trying to really get more of a stable of returners and see who those are going to be," Rizzi said. "I think if you look back yesterday during our punt period, we had some guys back there. Obviously Amendola is back there, [Albert] Wilson is back there, Drew Morgan is back there. Those are guys that can really field punts. Kenyan Drake is a guy that can do it throughout his career."

Rizzi added: "I like to have as many options as possible. .... I think here would probably be a little bit more of a situational thing. I don’t think he’s going to be back there every time, for sure; but again, it’s great to have as many guys on the roster that can do it, the better we are."