After loosing Dusting Keller for the season to a gruesome knee injury in Saturdays pre-season loss to Houston where can the Miami Dolphins turn to fill the void left by last years “Dolphin Killer”? Do they go shopping for a veteran tight end or do they go with what they currently have on the roster?
They can do a combination of both, this is the NFL where the situation is always the next best man is up. The Dolphins can see if the rookie Dion Simms can step up or even Michael Egnew (A third round draft pick in 2012) provided he can mature faster. Kyle Miller can also be a possibility if he can get back from injury quickly enough. The Dolphins can also hold out and take a look at the waver wire and see who becomes available, but time is of the essence to bring somebody new into the fold and integrate them into the offense.
Lets look at what the Dolphins have and what is, or will be, available to them.
[dropcap][/dropcap]Sims may be listed as the third tight end still even after the injury to Keller. At 6-foot-5, 262-pounds Sims certainly has the size advantage on his competition to get more reps as camp moves along. Coach Philbin has shown praise for the rookie by stating
“I like [Sims] a lot. He’s doing a lot of good things. He has a chance to be a very good blocker in this league. He’s got soft hands. He’s had a very good camp. He’s going to be a good player.” If Sims can continue to improve his understanding of the Miami offense and create more of a chemistry with Ryan Tannehill he could become one of the primary tight end targets. But to expect that Sims will become anything more than a solid contributor this season is a bit of a reach.
[dropcap][/dropcap]Egnew has shown that he has some good hands catching 5 passes for 66 yards this pre-season. A third round draft pick in 2012, his drawbacks have always been in his blocking ability even though he has shown signs of stepping up and improving. He is still a big question mark come season start even if Philbin sees him as the most improved player on the roster thus far.
[dropcap][/dropcap]Clay has been used as a hybrid H-back and TE during his last two seasons with the Dolphins and has been serviceable at both. This training camp however, Clay has been working on being more of a full time H-back and has not really worked into the new offense as a tight end. If he is used as a TE option this coming season it will take some time for him to develop into the new offense so dont expect too much from him right from the start.
[dropcap][/dropcap]Millers career started as an undrafted free agent with the Jaguars, eventually being cut and landing with the Colts, who promptly cut him after his first start. The Dolphins picked him up off the waiver wire last season and slotted him as the fourth string option at the TE position. At 6′ 5″, 258 pounds, and experience as a long snapper ( Yes he was a long snapper at Mount Union), Miller could develop into a blocking tight end, which the Dolphins clearly want to find. He is still a developmental project and had a slim chance of making the 53 man roster with a healthy Dustin Keller. Now it is up to him to step up but his lack of experience will hold him back marking him as the very last in-team option.
Waiver-wire and Veteran Options:
The leading candidates include a familiar name in Randy McMichael and former Kansas City Chiefs player Kevin Boss. Other players could include Evan Moore or Todd Heap.
[dropcap][/dropcap]A fourth round draft pick for Miami in 2002, playing with the team through 2006, spent the last three seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He appeared in all 16 games, starting nine, last year, but only had nine receptions for 51 yards. He had a couple of tryouts in the offseason, but the 34 year old has yet to catch on with a team. The only upside is that he has played for the Dolphins in the past, but will he be able to keep up with Philbin’s quick plying style at 34?
[dropcap][/dropcap]Boss, who is best known for his four years with the New York Giants, played two games, starting both, with the Chiefs in 2012. He was released by the Chiefs in February, following a failed physical, after suffering the fourth known concussion of his career last year. A fifth-round draft pick by the Giants in 2007, Boss emerged onto the league’s stage in 2008, grabbing six touchdowns that year. He left New York having compiled 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns over four seasons. He signed with the Oakland Raiders in 2011, pulling in three touchdowns in his only season with the team before being cut and joining the Chiefs. Although a decent option for the Dolphins but he has yet to be medically cleared to play and if it doesn’t happen soon, his chances of joining the team are highly unikely.
The waiver wire promises to be slim pickings for the Dolphins with no real stand out to go after. Their best options right now is to get the tight ends they already have and begin to work them into starters. The difference between available veterans and current roster players is very small so focusing on the future will be the Dolphins best bet.
By Sergio Peralta