The Dolphins were the only NFL team to put in a waiver claim on Taco Charlton, the third-year defensive end who produced just four sacks in 27 games before being released by Dallas this week.
But coach Brian Flores couldn’t have sounded more enthusiastic about adding a player selected 28th in the 2017 NFL Draft, six spots after Miami drafted Charles Harris.
“He’s big. He’s long. He’s strong. He’s got good pass rush potential,” Flores said Friday. “We’ve had him for a few hours. What I saw today I was happy with. But like any other player the goal for him is to improve, learn the defense and get better on a daily basis. If you do that the results will come.”
So is there a possibility he could play against his former team on Sunday in Dallas?
“There is a possibility,” Flores said. “It will be a tough thing to do, obviously. He wants to play. Kid loves football. Hopefully we can get him up to speed then maybe, but it’s a tough thing to do. No promises on that. He knows that. He’s been in our meetings. He’s asking questions. He’s very eager to get in there, whether it’s scout team or defensively. With that type of attitude he’ll be in there sooner than later.”
Flores’ other observations from being around Charlton for a few hours?
“He’s a smart kid, just spending some time with him. He understand fronts, rush technique, games and stunts. They do a good job of coaching in Dallas. They have some good coaches there, especially [defensive coordinator] Rod Marinelli. He’s been well coached, and there is some carryover from what they did and some of the things we do. I’m excited within the first few hours with the possibilities and potential, but he’s got to take advantage of that.
“The first thing I told him is he’s got to be ready to compete. We’re not giving away any jobs here. He’s going to have to fight for his opportunities on the field. He understands that. A lot of ways he relishes it, and I’m excited about that. This will take some time, but hopefully we can get him going.”
Charlton, due $2.5 million over this season and next, will join a young group of edge rushers that also includes Harris, third-year player Avery Moss, second-year player Trent Harris and undrafted rookie Jonathan Ledbetter (who’s on injured reserve). Tank Carradine is the one long-term veteran in that group.
CHANGES IN SECONDARY
The Dolphins already have been giving a long look to several unproven young defensive backs, players who would be household names only in their only households, and those of NFL draft evaluators.
And expect more of that after Minkah Fitzpatrick’s trade to Pittsburgh on Monday night. Among the players whose roles likely will increase in the aftermath:
▪ Safety Steven Parker: When the Rams cut him on Labor Day weekend after a year on their practice squad, the Dolphins quickly snapped up an undrafted player who was second-team All Big 10 as a senior at Nebraska before going undrafted.
Miami gave him 16 snaps Sunday, and he likely will play a lot — along with veteran Walt Aikens — on Sunday because Reshad Jones remains out with an ankle injury. Parker could start Sunday.
NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein questioned his speed before the draft but noted “when playing near the line of scrimmage,” he can be effective. Hence, the goal-line work Sunday.
The skill that stands out about him?
“I would say the mental part,” defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. “He’s a smart guy, has some football IQ to him. Physical player,... has some range.”
▪ Cornerback Jomal Wiltz: The former Patriots practice squad player has had a rough first two weeks, allowing TD passes each of the first two games, though Antonio Brown appeared to push off on Sunday’s score.
He’s now the top option to play slot cornerback, the position where Fitzpatrick was best in the league last season, according to metrics websites.
But he will need to improve to keep the job. Through two weeks, five of the six passes thrown against the undrafted former Iowa State player have been caught for 112 yards and two touchdowns. His 39 snaps Sunday were third most among cornerbacks.
▪ Cornerback Chris Lammons: The Dolphins have loved his special teams work since the new staff arrived and gave him 13 defensive snaps in the opener and five against the Patriots.
Undrafted out of South Carolina via Plantation High, Lammons already has been cut by three teams in 18 months (Saints, Falcons, Dolphins), but has a chance to become a core special teams player here for the next few years. He allowed both passes thrown against him to be caught Sunday, for 11 yards.
▪ Cornerback Ken Webster. The Patriots cut their rookie seventh-round pick after preseason, and Miami quickly scooped up a player who had 30 tackles and two interceptions as a senior and part-time starter at Ole Miss. He played five snaps Sunday and allowed an 8-yard completion to Julian Edelman in the one throw against him.
Zierlein says he’s a “part-time outside cornerback who failed to live up to expectations after a fast start at Ole Miss. Webster shows some talent as a run defender, but he lacks juice as man cover corner.”
Graham said of Lammons and Webster: “Josh Boyer, our corners coach, is looking for tough guys that can tackle. On top of that, if you can run, those are some of the things that we’re looking for, and they’ve shown that.”
Both figure to get defensive snaps Sunday at Dallas.
Receiver Albert Wilson (calf/hip) was ruled out for Sunday’s game at Dallas. Wilson and Jones were the only players listed as out.
Three were listed as questionable: Charles Harris, Trent Harris and McCain. Charles Harris was a full practice participant Friday; Trent Harris and McCain were limited.