Some football narratives never die.
And some fade away quickly, as evidence makes them obsolete.
How are the Dolphins going to be able to get targets for all of their quality receivers?
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The rejoinder, of course, is these things often work themselves out. The brutal nature of football has a way of thinning the herd.
And that happened in the past week, as DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills suffered injuries of varying severity that seem all but certain to keep them out of Friday’s preseason game No. 2 against the Panthers.
Based on training camp substitution patterns (and common sense), that means Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant will start and get a ton of snaps.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said of the switch. “The benefit is they’re really talented guys. We have had throwing sessions in the summer. I was working with those guys out here. We’ve been trying to work them in. But it is an adjustment having different guys, different bodies, different body types.”
Tannehill is being polite. Parker is nearly a full foot taller than Grant, his Friday replacement.
But that did not seem to much matter in 2017, when the Dolphins realized that Grant should play on the outside and not the slot, even though he stands just 5-foot-7.
Once they did, Grant popped, catching 10 balls for 188 yards and two touchdowns over the season’s final four games.
And besides, he’s discovered a way to hit a late-stage growth spurt (at least on paper).
“What I do is wear probably like six pairs of socks,” Grant said, jokingly (we think). “So people think like, ‘Man, Jakeem, you’ve got on high heels?’ Nah, man, I’m growing an inch every day. My goal when the season starts, I should be 5-foot-8.”
Then he would almost look eye-to-eye with Wilson, who also is under 5-10.
But what they might lack in size here Friday, the Dolphins will more than make up for in speed (both run sub-4.4 in the 40) and guile.
Grant had some doubts after a fumbling issue as a rookie, but in 2018, that is a distant memory. And as a result, he’s playing with gusto.
When asked what makes him more ready to take on an increased role in the offense, Grant responded:
“I would say confidence and also just knowing everything, every position on the field and knowing exactly what everybody is doing, from the running back to the receivers to the tight ends, and just knowing exactly what everybody is doing. … I feel like my rookie year, I didn’t know it that much and I feel like I was kind of shaky. The confidence level wasn’t always there and now this year, the confidence is through the roof and I’m just ready to go out there and make plays.”
With Parker out for weeks with a broken finger, he might not find his starting job waiting for him when he eventually returns.
And Wilson — based on salary (he signed a three-year, $24 million contract in March) and pedigree — seems the leading candidate to take it.
He was effective in the preseason opener, catching both balls thrown his way for 31 yards. But that was from David Fales with the backups. On Friday, it will be Tannehill under center when he’s on the field.
Expect the Dolphins to target him early and often.
“They’re both really talented guys and can play the position in a way that we need them to play,” Tannehill said. “So, yes, it’s just a matter of getting the reps and getting comfortable with how each guy moves under duress, when he’s getting pushed and how he’s going to recover and little things like that. If you’re throwing and it’s free access then it’s like nothing, but it’s little things of ‘All right, he’s getting pushed and one guy recovers a different way than another guy, but you have to throw it at the same time. Just knowing how each guy recovers a little differently is the adjustment.”
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