Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter has forged a successful post-playing career as a studio presence, initially on ESPN and now on Fox Sports 1’s First Things First morning show.
But Carter for the first time on Sunday gets a chance to be a game analyst, paired with play-by-play man Sam Rosen on Fox’s telecast of the Dolphins-Titans game — the first of several game assignments this year for the former All-Pro receiver.
And Carter is eager to see the Dolphins. From watching their personnel, he already has several opinions:
▪ On the receiver group: “They have a lot to prove. DeVante Parker [who is out Sunday with a broken finger] is going into his fourth year. We typically see receivers flash in year two or three. He hasn’t shown you that or gotten the type of separation I thought I would see out of Louisville. This is the year DeVante has to step it up — 50/50 balls, inside the red zone,
intermediate routes in the middle - that’s what you need to see.
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“Kenny Stills is a good pro, tough, been their most consistent receiver. We know Danny Amendola has been a dominant slot receiver. They are going to need him to move the chains. Albert Wilson is an undersized guy; is he going to be their speed guy?
“They need to come up with an identity. I need a guy who definitely will be the No. 1 guy. It can be a tight end, too. Is Mike Gesicki going to have an impact?”
▪ On Ryan Tannehill: “What we’ve seen is quarterbacks get better when they get older. The last three years [in which he was healthy] have been the greatest three years we’ve seen with him. It’s an important year for him, but I wouldn’t say this is a make or break year for him. If they put the right things around him, they can win games. Can Tannehill return to where he was in 2016? If they do, they have a chance of getting to .500.”
▪ On some other positives on Miami’s roster: “I like some of their leadership. Frank Gore, one day he will be wearing [a Hall of Fame] gold jacket. Kenyan Drake is an exciting player. If he doesn’t have 50 catches, there’s something wrong with that. I have loved watching [guard] Josh Sitton play for a number of years — tough guy, good leader in the locker room. If you are in a fight, you want him on your team.
“Cam Wake was always one of my favorite players. He’s still an elite rusher, takes care of his body. I believe they do have some good stories. ... [But] they lost some pretty good players. Did they do the right things to replace them?”
Carter, who has 130 career touchdown passes (fourth-most in NFL history), played in five games with the Dolphins in 2002, his final NFL season.
Fox is sending Sunday’s game to six percent of the country, but Miami-Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are the only Florida markets receiving the game barring any last-minute changes. The game was cross-flexed from CBS to Fox to balance the network schedules.
“I wanted to call games for a long time,” Carter said. “I’m very excited I can call a few games this year.”
THIS AND THAT
Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi, asked if he was tempted by former Cowboys Pro Bowler Dan Bailey or any other kickers that were released last weekend: “There’s always a couple of names you maybe weren’t certain would come available that come available. So, yes, we definitely had kind of a pulse on that. I was definitely looking at that. However, there was a point in camp where I felt like we have our kicker here in Miami.”
The Dolphins went with Jason Sanders over Greg Joseph because “of a consistency thing,” Rizzi said. “I’m very confident in the way he went through training camp. You saw what he did at the end of the Falcons game the other day. He kicked a long field goal with a lot of leg left on it.”
▪ Rizzi said cornerback Cornell Armstrong was the team’s most improved special teams player from spring to now. That assuredly contributed to him winning a competitive battle for the final defensive back job.
▪ Rizzi said the Dolphins have “more options than we’ve had in the past” for kickoff and punt returns.
“The punt returner group right now is Jakeem Grant, Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson, Kenyan Drake,” Rizzi said. “Our kick return pool — obviously Grant, Kalen Ballage is a guy that can do it, Torry McTyer is a guy that’s done it, Albert Wilson, Drake, if needed.”
▪ Here’s something new and creative: The Dolphins will allow 300 fans to have “sideline access,” during games, a perk being offered to longest-tenured season ticket holders, including some originals. They’ll be on the warning track on the field level, behind a wall. The cost is $1000 for the season, including complementary beer, wine, soda and water. The Dolphins tried this sideline-standing thing at El Clasico soccer matches and it was well received.
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