Here, in chronological order, are three snapshots from Wednesday’s practice that explain why the Dolphins believe Mike Gesicki is going to be a good one:
1. He got one-on-one attention from Ryan Tannehill during a full period perfecting red-zone routes.
2. That work translated into a spectacular play a short time later , with Gesicki out-leaping a Dolphins defender, cradling the ball with his hands and helmet and getting two feet in for the touchdown.
3. When most of his teammates had already left for the locker room, he was still out there, drilling down on what is his biggest (and perhaps only) weakness: blocking.
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And, most encouraging, he did it well.
Gesicki deftly knocked aside linebacker Cayson Collins on a pass-rush drill, to the delight of his coaches who hooted in approval.
“It’s going to be an everyday process,” Gesicki said later. “Whether it’s running routes or whether it’s making plays in the pass game, whether it’s pass protecting, run block, whatever it is, it’s not going to happen overnight. I’m just going to keep coming in here and growing, developing, getting better in this scheme and doing everything I can to help this offense.”
It’s pretty clear how he can help this offense:
Be the most dynamic red-zone weapon the Dolphins have had at the tight end position in a generation.
And if all pans out, as good as one the league’s best of the past decade.
That’s according to Kenny Stills, who despite his best efforts not to, kind of compared Gesicki to Jimmy Graham, Stills’ ex-teammate with the Saints.
“I talked to Mike a lot about my time in New Orleans playing with a guy like Jimmy Graham, and just seeing when Jimmy had success, how it opened up the field for the rest of the guys,” Stills said. “Obviously, they’re two different type of players, two different guys, but Gesicki can go up and get the ball. We know that if we can start to have success in the red zone and he can start to have success, it’s going to open the field for the rest of us. I’m proud to see the way he’s progressed in his blocking and his route-running and I definitely think he can help us this year.”
A quick reality check.
Graham has 69 touchdown catches since leaving the University of Miami in 2010.
Gesicki has zero catches of any kind on two targets this preseason.
But the Dolphins have not made getting him the ball a priority — yet. Dolphins coach Adam Gase said the catches will come in time; the plan has been to get him comfortable with everything else asked of an NFL tight end.
Still, as the coaches have reminded him bluntly at times, the Dolphins drafted him to catch — touchdowns, specifically.
“That’s obviously the goal, that’s why you’re out here working,” Gesicki said. “You’re out here practicing so that way when you get out on the field at game time, it’s time to make plays; but you have to be patient with everything.”
The Dolphins have shown patience too, based on Gesicki’s account of his film review sessions. Tight ends coach Shane Day has been “extremely positive” in his assessment of the rookie’s play.
“They knew that this was going to be a process and that we were going to have to develop some aspects of my game,” Gesicki said.
That means logging extra time on the practice field, either with his quarterback or against pass-rushers looking to embarrass him.
The toughest part of being a pro?
“Honestly, probably just the mental aspect of everything,” Gesicki said. “Now it’s coming a lot quicker, a lot faster; but yesterday I come in, there’s a bunch of new plays and all of this new stuff going in for the weekend and all of that. So, just kind of being able to comprehend that real quick and then being able to take that out to the field.
“Honestly, this is a little bit different than college. You’re not getting a ton of reps out here in practice, so when you get those opportunities, you have to make the most of them.”
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