Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jerome Baker are ascending talents on defense.
Mike Gesicki continues to improve, if not in obvious ways.
The Dolphins’ draft class is playing well, even if many of their older teammates are not.
So if you want to daydream about Miami’s future since the team’s present is not very much fun at the moment, there’s plenty of hope to go around.
And here’s another player to watch:
Kalen Ballage, who has improved enough on special teams that he has earned playing time — even on offense.
Ballage, the fourth-rounder out of Arizona State, has been active the last two weeks after being a healthy scratch the season’s first three.
What’s more: He’s even gotten a couple of carries, which is a bit surprising, considering the Dolphins’ scarcity of offensive snaps and the talent ahead of him.
This has had the feel of a redshirt year for Ballage ever since the Dolphins drafted him. It’s hard enough to figure out ways to maximize both Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore without adding a third back to the rotation.
Plus Senorise Perry and Brandon Bolden are excellent special teams players, so there just did not seem a place on Sunday’s for a fifth running back on the 46-man roster.
But Balllage has forced his way onto the field by showing up Monday through Saturday.
“We’re taking it one week at a time,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said of the team’s vision for Ballage. “He’s doing a good job. Whatever he’s asked to do, he does it full speed. That’s a big man running. I’ve enjoyed seeing him develop on special teams as well. He’s taken a lot of pride in it. Because of the way that room is designed, where all those guys has done special teams or plays special teams right now except for Frank [Gore], you better bring it in that area because all those guys are watching. He’s done a good job of impressing both [Darren] Rizzi and ‘Mouf’ (Marwan Maalouf) as far as what he can bring to special teams. If we have to play him, he knows what to do and he plays fast.”
Gase weighed in on the Dolphins’ other top rookie contributors this week:
▪ On Gesicki’s progress: “Route running has been good. He’s made a lot of strides in the blocking. [Wednesday] especially it was very noticeable some of the techniques that they’ve been working on have really been improving. Just kind of seeing how much pride he’s taking and trying to do everything right, that’s all you can ask for. He’s really been working on it and he wants to be a guy that can be effective in it.”
▪ On the common trait shared by Fitzpatrick and Baker: “Football instincts. They both just have a natural feel for the game, which is something that’s a great addition for us.”