Perhaps second-round rookie Mike Gesicki will become the elite pass-catching tight end the Dolphins have been craving.
But this is going to take time, apparently.
Through one quarter of the season, Gesicki has five receptions for 51 yards.
“We’re four games in; people outside this building don’t understand you’ve got to be patient with it,” Gesicki said. “Everyone wants it right now. Everyone thinks this happens overnight but that’s not how it is. This is the NFL. It’s the defense’s job to make plays too. I’m going to continue to be patient.”
What’s notable is that he has only seven targets, even though he’s now starting at tight end amid injuries to others.
But there are two caveats. For starters, the Dolphins have had unusually low snap counts.
And offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains revealed Thursday that “multiple” plays for Gesicki have been called but the ball ultimately never went to him because of looks they’ve had in defensive coverages.
Miami has tried to isolate Gesicki on the boundary at times but the Dolphins haven’t had many one-on-one opportunities in that formation and “so the ball has gone other places,” Loggains said.
The Jets double-teamed him at times. Last week, he was blanketed by Patriots safety Patrick Chung.
“He’s a veteran guy, really good player,” Gesicki said. “He obviously had his wins. I had a couple as well. I need to continue to beat man coverage and continue to get better and continue to work on releases.”
How successful has Gesicki been in creating separation from defenders in pass patterns? “He’s done what we’ve asked him at this point,” Loggains said.
Gesicki said he has been jammed some at the line of scrimmage. How has he done beating jams?
“I’m getting some good releases and I’m getting some ones I need to work on,” he said. “It’s only going to continue to improve.”
Gesicki has fewer receptions than several other rookie tight ends, including Philadelphia’s Dallas Goedert and Baltimore’s Mark Andrews, who have 10 receptions apiece.
“I am not really concerned with getting the ball right now,” he said. “Whenever the play is called, alignment, assignment, communication, technique is all I’m focused on.”
As a blocker, the Dolphins knew he needed to improve considerably when they drafted him out of Penn State. Pro Football Focus rates Gesicki 81st among tight ends in run blocking and 84th in pass blocking, both near the bottom of the league.
THIS AND THAT
Defensive end Cam Wake missed practice for the second day in a row with a knee injury, and coach Adam Gase was non-committal about his status for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati.
“We’re taking it day to day,” Gase said. “We just want to make sure that he’s right. I know he gave us everything he had last Sunday. It wasn’t easy for him. We’ll go through the week and see where we end up. He takes probably more reps than what we want [in practice], but that’s him. I think finally getting him to kind of sit down here the last couple of days was good.”
Meanwhile, defensive end Andre Branch practiced for the first time since sustaining a knee injury in the third game against Oakland, although he was limited. “He’s ahead of schedule,” Gase said.
▪ Receiver DeVante Parker was limited Thursday with a quadriceps injury that sidelined him against New England, and Gase said: “Sometimes he feels really good and sometimes it’s not as good as he wants. When running is your entire profession and you’ve got any kind of soft tissue [injury], it’s not that easy to deal with.” He’s iffy for Sunday.
▪ Burke, who has the option of having cornerback Xavien Howard shadow Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green on Sunday, said Howard wants to shadow the top receiver “every game, every play. And even if you do it, he gets mad if you give him help. Like literally, he’s like, ‘leave me alone.’ So he lobbies all the time for it, which I love. Now, that’s not always the best strategy, so he doesn’t always get what he wants.”
▪ Rookie Jerome Baker’s snaps have risen dramatically the past two weeks; he played 65 of 81 against New England.
Burke said the advantages create by Baker’s speed offset any issues created by his lack of girth. “We like Baker’s speed,” Burke said, noting that the 225-pound linebacker’s playing time rose partly because the Dolphins faced skilled pass-catching backs the past two weeks and “we like that matchup in the passing game.”