Dolphins RB and former Cane Mark Walton talks about his troubled off season
After the first day of rookie minicamp, Miami Dolphins coaches saw an amazing player who stood out on every play and clearly showed he was a star in the making. Someone was heard to exclaim, “Wow!”
“No,” coach Brian Flores said Saturday. “No, that didn’t happen.”
No. It didn’t.
It’s May. It’s a rookie minicamp. And these coaches aren’t likely to jump to conclusions about one practice. But there were some interesting issues Flores talked about Saturday that merit your attention.
The new coach explained why the Dolphins brought former University of Miami running back Mark Walton to this camp on a tryout basis after Walton was cut recently by the Cincinnati Bengals following his third arrest in the past three months.
“Obviously, talented player,” Flores said. “We wanted to definitely take a look at him, see if he was a fit for us, you know, on the field, off the field. And I think he’s done a good job in the one day he’s been here.”
Walton has three cases pending in the judicial system and also faces NFL discipline under the league’s personal conduct policy.
“It was discussed,” Flores said. “Obviously [general manager] Chris [Grier], myself, [vice president] Brandon [Shore], our staff. Definitely it’s something we discussed. But again, it’s a tryout. That’s kind of part of the process, getting to know him and getting to see him both on and off the field.”
Walton declined to address his arrests.
“There’s a lot of things that’s happened this offseason but right now my focus is on the task and right now that’s the Miami Dolphins and that’s all I can talk about,” Walton said.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity. Trying to leave a good impression on the coaches. Trying to leave a lasting mark with them. I know what I got to do while I’m here so that’s all I can talk about right now.”
Walton, a second-year player, said he tried to help the rookies. That could improve his chances because it might “show what he’s all about,” he said.
Flores said the Dolphins would like to take “five, six backs” into training camp. Kenyan Drake, Kalen Ballage, draft pick Myles Gaskin, third-year player Kenneth Farrow, and rookie undrafted signee Patrick Laird are on the roster.
Walton will learn in the next couple of days if the Dolphins think he should be one of those.
“I’d say, I think, you know, I think people deserve a second chance,” Flores said. “I believe that. I think that’s the case and I don’t want to judge people on one incident, two incidents. It’s a case-by-case situation for a player and people in general. That’s kind of my stance.”
The Dolphins are trying out a number of former Miami Hurricanes -- including tight end Darrell Langham, defensive tackle Kendrick Norton, and quarterback Malik Rosier.
“For me, it’s a lot of new information,” Rosier said after Saturday’s practice. “It’s a totally different playbook. I’m trying to compete every day. Trying to learn the playbook. Trying to show these guys that I can earn a spot.”
The Dolphins rookie minicamp is closed to reporters and the public so it’s not known how Rosier practied Saturday. But Flores was pleased with what he saw the day before.
“He’s an assertive, I like his assertiveness at the quarterback position,” Flores said. “He clearly has some leadership ability in getting these guys in and out of the huddle. He gets his Mike points. He gets everybody lined up. I thought that was good.
“I thought he had a good day yesterday, we’ll see how it goes today. But I think he’s off to a good start as well.”
Rosier, who was not drafted or signed as a priority free agent, is hopeful he can continue his football career.
“I get on my knees every night and pray to God [for a chance],” Rosier said. “I’m lucky for this whole coaching staff for giving me this opportunity. My [mindset] is come in here every day and compete for this job.”
Fullback Chandler Cox worked with the tight ends as well as running back during this minicamp.
“I think he’s a versatile player,” Flores said. “I think he’s someone who could move around in the backfield and some tight end positions -- split him out a little bit.
“He’s going to work with the tight ends. He’s going to work with the backs. He’s going to move around. He’s somebody who’s got that ability. He’s going to work in the kicking game as well. He’s throwing the football. He’s a former quarterback so we’ll see what he can do there.”