A six-pack of Dolphins notes as we approach the first exhibition game at 7 p.m Thursday against Tampa Bay:
▪ There are a bunch of on-the-bubble players who will be under the proverbial microscope in these four games, with Leonte Carroo among the more notable.
The Dolphins traded their 2016 sixth round pick (186th overall), their 2017 third round pick and their 2017 fourth round pick in order to be able to draft Carroo 86th overall in 2016.
But Miami is prepared to move on if he doesn’t win a job in camp.
And Carroo admitted this week that what’s happened to him has been eye-opening.
“I would say it’s a humbling experience,” Carroo said, “going from being a starter in high school, Pop Warner and college, to coming here.”
He has 10 catches for 98 yards in two years.
There have been several issues for Carroo here: He wasn’t in prime condition initially. Consistently creating separation from cornerbacks has been a challenge. And he hasn’t had a lot of opportunities in games because of Miami’s commitment to veterans Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker and the past two years, Jarvis Landry.
Isaiah Ford would be clearly leading in the battle for the sixth receiver spot – should Miami keep that many - if he hadn’t been limited somewhat this past week with a shoulder injury. Rashawn Scott has made a move in the past week. But Carroo responded this week, catching two touchdowns in Tuesday’s practice.
Perhaps they’re competing for a job – sixth receiver – that might not get any offensive snaps this year barring injuries. But it beats unemployment.
▪ Frank Gore had an unexpected Jay Ajayi reference in discussing Kenyan Drake this week.
“My first time seeing him was when they played Denver before we played Denver. I watched his film and I was like ‘man, I kind of see why they traded Jay Ajayi,’” Gore said, recalling last year’s Colts-Broncos game. “He’s very talented. Jay Ajayi was a great back too but Kenyan is a very talented guy. He can do everything.”
Drake’s ability to bounce outside on runs that are bottled up has been on full display in camp. It will be fascinating to watch his growth this year.
“This is my third year in the offense so I’m very confident,” Drake said. “So when I’m playing faster, I feel like I can change speeds, change paces and keep the defense off balance.”
▪ The Dolphins are eager to see the debut of Robert Quinn, who has had multiple sacks in camp and says he’s very comfortable playing end in a 4-3 defense (going against the left tackle) instead of the linebacker position where the Rams used him.
“I think this defense is really what he was raised in,” Adam Gase said. “I guess that’s the best way to put it. When he came in the league and this is what he did, it’s what he did in college and when you switch to a 3-4 defense, there’s some more mechanics that go along with that when all of a sudden now you’re standing up. I do think he’s comfortable having his hand in the dirt. He did a good job last year. I just don’t think he was comfortable doing that.
“Sometimes guys have a certain ability to get off the ball a certain way. Cam (Wake’s) stance might be a little different than his, but they’re successful doing it. I think he doesn’t have to worry about coverage and dropping and things like that. That’s a different role for him if he has to do that, and he was asked to do that a little bit last year.”
▪ One position with potential for a starting-caliber acquisition in the next month would be cornerback, if Cordrea Tankersley and Torry McTyer aren’t good in preseason. The Dolphins considered cornerback Sam Beal in the supplemental but didn’t have him rated as highly as the Giants, who used a third round pick on him and then watched him sustain a likely season-ending shoulder injury.
So what would the Dolphins deal for a corner? They’re reluctant to trade future high draft picks, but they do have depth at defensive end (Andre Branch) and receiver. Just a thought, but if DeVante Parker is outplayed by Albert Wilson in preseason, does Miami consider making Parker available for a starting-caliber corner?
There is no longterm internal certainty about Parker in Miami, with his exercised $9.5 million fifth-year option for 2019 becoming guaranteed before next March only if he sustains a serious injury this season.
Parker’s willingness or ability to fight for contested catches remains hit and miss - some days he does it, some days he doesn’t -and if he can be flipped for a reliable corner, Miami would still be OK at receiver. But all that about Parker is just speculative, merely a hypothetical. The Dolphins first want to see game snaps for Tankersley and McTyer.
▪ In addition to Thursday’s game being televised live on CBS-4 in South Florida, the Dolphins for the first time will be streaming the local CBS broadcast of all of our pre-season games on http://dolphins.com
It will be available in Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Ft. Myers-Naples, West Palm Beach and Ft. Pierce.
And those outside those areas can watch the game live on NFL.com/gamepass for $99.99. NFL Network will air Dolphins-Buccaneers on tape at 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
▪ If you’re part of a fantasy football league, we recommend K.C. Joyner’s Football Scientist: 2018 Fantasy Football Draft Guide available at www.thefootballscientist.com.
Here’s how he breaks down Parker:
Fantasy pros: The return of Ryan Tannehill could result in Miami throwing the ball a lot this season. Parker is still the lead candidate to land the flanker role and thus could see a triple-digit target volume. Parker posted double-digit YPA totals in the vertical and stretch vertical categories in 2016, so he and Tannehill worked together much better than Parker and Jay Cutler did.
Fantasy cons: Parker’s dreadful metrics last year led Miami to acquire Albert Wilson to compete for this job. Parker can get open better than his strong red ratings in good coverage rate would indicate, yet his light red ratings in good coverage rate in 2016 suggest that Parker isn’t a route running expert. Head coach Adam Gase has been run-heavy in his playcalling in two of his five years in charge of an NFL offense, so the pass-heavy approach could easily be altered. Parker has never posted more than 57 receptions in a season in either his pro or college careers and has never tallied 100 or more targets in an NFL campaign.
Bottom line: Fantasy coaches never do themselves favors when they overvalue potential over production. Parker could end up taking a leap forward this season, but his historical limitations suggest taking a WR6 approach to him.
▪ The last word to Ryan Tannehill, on Mike Gesicki cracking that he would walk Tannehill’s dog if he asked him because he wants to please the quarterback: “I don’t know about my dog, but my lawn probably needs to be mowed, so we’ll see if he can take care of that this off day.” (Yes, he was kidding.)
Here’s my piece with behind-the-scenes background information on why the Dolphins continued pursuing older veterans this offseason.
Here’s my piece today on Marlins players still in play with potential trades and other Marlins tidbits.
And please check back later for a UM column.
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