NOV 20, 2011; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins fullback Charles Clay (31) after catching a touchdown pass against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium. Miami defeated Buffalo 35-8. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE

Miami Dolphins Training Camp Preview: Tight Ends

Well Dolfans, Training Camp will be starting up next Friday, July 27th and it’s time to start getting focused.  In this article, I would like to take a closer look at four specific tight ends currently sitting on this Miami Dolphins’ roster.  One in particular has the making of a modern day Vince Papale.  And just for fun, I also included some 2012 statistical projections for each player based purely on my opinion on how they will fit into this new West Coast Offense.  Feel free to debate those numbers with me.  Without further ado, let’s take a look at the current Dolphins’ tight ends.

Charles Clay                       6’3”        250lbs                   1 year

2012 Projections:             42 catches    512 yards    5 touchdowns  

If there is one player to get excited about this year in this offense, it’s Charles Clay.  In fact, I expect his production to double in his second year.  During his college days at Tulsa, he played fullback, running back, H-back, and receiver.  As a hybrid fullback/tight end, the Dolphins will utilize him on the line, in the slot, and in the backfield.  He is a diverse weapon that will get plenty of touches this season.

Last year Clay got off to a slow start because former offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, struggled to find a spot for him in the offense.  In fact, he only had a total of two catches after the first five games.  He ended the year with 16 catches for 233 yards and three touchdowns.  Although his stats were modest, you could see he was starting to turn the corner by the season’s end.  Most importantly, coach Joe Philbin appears to be happy with his skill set and plans to give Clay a much bigger role in his offense.

Anthony Fasano               6’4”        255lbs                   7 years

2012 Projections:             28 catches    374 yards    3 touchdowns

I know I’m going to catch a lot of heat for this, but it’s time to be real here.  Please keep in mind I am a fan of Anthony Fasano and he was a huge part of that magical 2008 season when we won the AFC East.  However, I’m not sure if his style of play is a good fit in Philbin’s West Coast Offense.  To be a “Philbin guy,” the TEs need to be athletic and quick off the line.

Unfortunately, Fasano is considered slow and is more of a blocking tight end who will most likely be utilized this season to do just that, if anything.  Besides, the Dolphins didn’t go out and spend a third round pick on an athletic tight end as Michael Egnew just for fun.  With two versatile TEs as Clay and Egnew, don’t expect to see Fasano get as much playing time as he did during the Tony Sparano Era.  I definitely wouldn’t advise drafting him on your fantasy football team this year.  But hey, I hope he proves me wrong and can show the coaches in training camp that he can thrive in this offense.

Michael Egnew                 6’5”        255lbs                   Rookie

2012 Projections:             25 catches    320 yards    4 touchdowns 

With the 78th pick in the third round of this year’s NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins selected tight end Michael Egnew, from Missouri.  His athleticism, fluid body control, and tall frame create mismatches in the secondary making him very difficult to cover.  During his last two years with Missouri, Egnew was a very productive seam threat, catching 140 balls for 1,285 yards and eight touchdowns.  He is a wide receiver in a tight end’s body.  Egnew has great body control who can line up in the slot and works well in open space.  With his physique it is clear why the Dolphins drafted him.  Standing just a hair under 6’6”, the Dolphins now have a new redzone threat in Egnew.

Because he is a rookie competing with Clay and Fasano for playing time, it’s not realistic to expect a monster rookie year from him.  But I do believe they will target him in goal line situations as much as possible.  He may get off to a slow start, but expect to be pleasantly surprised during the second half of the year.

Les Brown                           6’4”        245lbs                   Rookie

2012 Projections:             1 catch    10 yards    1 touchdown (game winner against Jets)

Ok, let’s not get too crazy here.  Of course I would love his only catch to be the game winning touchdown against the hated Jets.  That would be glorious.  But the reality is Les Brown will struggle to get any playing time this season.  In fact, he will most likely get placed on the practice squad.  Unless one of the tight ends suffers an injury, don’t expect to see him dress for any games this year.

But the Dolphins see something in this former college basketball player who also impressed several other teams during his Pro Day at BYU.  Even though he hasn’t played football in over six years since high school, he appears to be in excellent shape with tremendous speed and athleticism.  Regardless, he will need to have a flawless training camp and an impressive exhibition season if he has any chance of making the active 53 man roster.  If a bar tender like Vince Papale can make it into professional football, who’s to say an accountant like Brown can’t do the same?

If you are wondering why I didn’t include TEs Jeron Mastrud and Will Yeatman in this article, it’s because there is nothing exciting to talk about.  They were both nonexistent in the offense last season.  Combined, they had just one catch for eight yards.  They will have a very difficult time making the 53 man roster.  In my opinion, I don’t think either one will make the final cut.  Besides, there is only a three way race among the TEs in training camp; Fasano, Clay, and Egnew, with a separate side show for Brown.

So get pumped Dolfans!  This will be the year of the tight ends for the Miami Dolphins.  Expect to see them more involved in this new offense than ever before, especially Charles Clay.  Also, feel free to poke fun of my 2012 statistical projections for each player.  If you think your projections are more realistic, I would be happy to hear your thoughts.

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Tags: Anthony Fasano Charles Clay Les Brown Miami Dolphins Michael Egnew

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