The Miami Dolphin’s new head coach Joe Philbin may be installing a pass heavy West Coast offense in Miami, but the offensive position that currently has the most depth is running back.
At this point in the off season there are seven RBs on the Dolphins roster. At most four will survive the cut down to the 53 man roster. It’s safe to assume Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas will be retaining their spots on the roster from last year. It is also highly likely that this years fourth round pick Lamar Miller makes the team, Joe Philbin has even hinted at lining Miller up as a receiver every so often.
Steve Slaton, Jerome Messam, Marcus Thigpen, and Jonas Gray are the other running backs on the roster. It is possible that one of them will make the team as the fourth back on the depth chart. It’s too early to predict what back will make the team, but they all offer something the Dolphins can use.
Steve Slaton: Slaton has the most NFL experience. He began his career in 2008 with the Huston Texans. That year he ran for over 1,200 yards, but saw a sharp decrease in production in the following seasons. Slaton was on the Dolphins roster last year getting 17 carries for 64 yards.
Jerome Messam: In 2011 Messam played in the CFL for the Edmonton Eskimos. He rushed for 1,000 yards and was named to the CFL All-Star team and also awarded the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian award. If your not familiar with the CFL, rushing for 1,000 yards is a much more significant achievement then it is in the NFL. With only 3 downs to move the ball 10 yards there is much less emphasis on running plays, so Messam’s achievement is impressive. We will see if it translates to the NFL and if he’ll be able to make the final roster.
Marcus Thigpen: Thigpen, like Messam, also played in the CFL. He also has a significant CFL achievement, in that he was the first player ever to score a touchdown 5 different ways in one season. He had scored a rushing touchdown, a receiving TD, a kick off, a punt return and a blocked field goal all returned for TD’s. Although he will probably only make the practice squad, that’s a pretty crazy accomplishment.
Jonas Gray: If Jonas Gray shines in training camp the best he can hope for is making the practice squad. That’s not to say he isn’t good, it’s just that the undrafted rookie free agent has some steep competition. That said, Gray has some talent. He emerged in his final season at Notre Dame proving he was a very capable power running back, where he piled up 791 yards, 12 TDs in only 11 games before tearing his ACL and ending his season. Daniel Thomas is the primary power back on the 53 man, but if he fails to deliver or goes down due to injury look for Gray to emerge as the Dark Horse to fill the role.
As you can see the Dolphins have options at running back. QB isn’t the only interesting competition to watch out for this off season, pay attention to that fourth RB spot.
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