Barry Jackson

Here’s what’s in store next season for one of the Dolphins’ fastest players

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant (19) makes a reception against New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) during their Dec. 11 Monday Night Football game.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant (19) makes a reception against New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) during their Dec. 11 Monday Night Football game. adiaz@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Thursday:

▪ Last spring, then-offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen assured that wide receiver Jakeem Grant would be a bigger part of the offense. It didn’t happen until the 13th game of the season, when Grant scored a touchdown against the Patriots and followed that up with a nifty catch and run for a 65-yard scoring play in the 15th game against Kansas City.

This time around, figure on Grant being more involved in the offense from the start — whether Jarvis Landry is here or not.

Three reasons for that: 1. Grant has proved he can be a valuable weapon on offense in regular-season games, not merely in preseason. 2. Adam Gase, who will continue to call the plays, expressed regret late in the season that he didn’t use Grant more earlier in the season. 3. New offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is very much impressed by Grant.

Loggains, who is diminutive in stature, was asked if he has taken a liking to the 5-6 Grant because of his size.

“It wasn’t the size,” Loggains said. “It was when I watched that slip screen that he took to the house. His play strength for being a small guy, he plays very physical and very strong. I’m really excited about him. I’ll probably try to stand next to him as much as I can on TV games and pregame warmups. I’ll enjoy talking and being able to look eye-to-eye with him.”

After catching eight passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns in preseason, Grant was targeted sparingly and caught three passes for nine yards in Miami’s first 12 games.

But he caught 10 passes for 191 yards and the two touchdowns during the final four games, finishing the season averaging 15.6 yards per catch.

▪ Cornerback Tony Lippett, who missed last season with a torn Achilles tendon, is expected to be ready for the team’s offseason program this spring and will be ready long before training camp.

Don’t underestimate Lippett’s return. He had four interceptions in 2016, and though he struggled on some crossing routes (including in the Pittsburgh game), he was clearly an ascending player and a very good fifth-round pick.

Lippett’s return will give the Dolphins a quartet of solid young corners: Xavien Howard, Cordrea Tankersley, Lippett and Bobby McCain. Now the front seven must be augmented.

▪ The Dolphins have a bunch of free agents that they haven’t told if they want back. The team is discussing those decisions in the coming weeks and likely will inform agents around the time of the NFL Combine Feb. 27 through March 5 in Indianapolis.

▪ Tight end Anthony Fasano hasn’t decided if he wants to continue his career, his agent said this week.

The Dolphins, in the market for two tight ends, spent time with several of them at the Senior Bowl, including Adam Breneman, a 6-5 former Penn State player who posted monster numbers at Massachusetts the past two years: 70 catches for 808 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016; 64 for 704 and four touchdowns in 2017.

▪ While some early mock drafts have the Dolphins selecting Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith or Notre Dame offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey or Quenton Nelson 11th overall, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah projects Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen because “the Dolphins can’t continue to rely on Ryan Tannehill.”

▪ Though it would be surprising if the Dolphins take a quarterback at No. 11 because of the commitment to Tannehill, it cannot entirely be ruled out if they fill their pressing needs (starting linebacker, starting tight end, at least one starting offensive lineman) in free agency.

ESPN.com asked Mel Kiper and Todd McShay who they would take between Allen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield if they had a top 10 pick.

Kiper said Allen: “We know he has the big arm, but he got better every day in Mobile. Allen was overthrowing on Tuesday, trying to showcase his arm while alternating reps with Mayfield & Co. That’s when you could sense his timing was off with receivers he had just met. But he made dramatic progress throughout the week and was much better by Thursday. His ceiling is so high — he could make throws down there that no one else could make. People always ask me about comps — well, how about Matthew Stafford? He completed 57.1 percent of his passes in 39 games at Georgia. Stafford has been better in the NFL, and I think Allen will improve in the pros, too.”

McShay also picked Allen but said: “This is a tough one. We’re still a ways from the end of the process, but I’d lean [toward] Allen right now because of his frame and arm talent. A big part of it depends on what scheme I’m running as a head coach. But it’s a legitimate debate between these two right now.”

McShay said this about Mayfield: “A couple of things stood out to me this week for Mayfield. Off the top, we now know he’s 6-foot and has a 9.5-inch hand span, which is right at the five-year Combine average for quarterbacks. So the official measurements weren’t alarming. Second, Mayfield just has elite football instincts. By that I mean he knows when to slide in the pocket, how to read coverage and get the ball out on time and when to bail and extend a play with his feet. That part of his game especially came out during competitive portions — 7-on-7 and team drills — of practice. Finally, everything he does is twitchy — I think he’s a better athlete than people give him credit for. His decisions, movement in the pocket, feet are all quick.”

 

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