The Miami Dolphins defense are hungry for the regular season. They want turnovers and so much so that footballs are mounted on the walls of the position meeting rooms. There is a battle brewing between Dimitri Patterson and his 4 million dollar contract and returning veteran Richard Marshall who missed last season with a back injury. Rookie Will Davis has been impressive thus far as well. Yet the eyes of the fans have been glued to the offense and the high-potent playmakers that the team has tried to assemble.
Mike Wallace is the bird in waiting. While he is catching the slants and outs he and Ryan Tannehill haven’t connected deep to draw the applause of the crowds but that’s o.k. Wallace and Tannehill can take their time. Brian Hartline already has that relationship with RT so there is no worries there. It’s what comes next that has the masses chattering. The Dolphins will likely keep five maybe six wide-outs on their final 53 man roster so what happens during camp and into the pre-season, season will go a long way in determining who will be filling one or two of those final slots.
In the early days of camp the accolades were clearly being given to waiver pick-up Marvin McNutt who was catching almost everything thrown his way. But alas, like every season the great equalizer came to the field. Padded practices and contact. Since the pads went on McNutt’s performances slipped while Brandon Gibson’s improved. Gibson is not a member of the team who’s job is on the bubble at this point but a strong showing will go a long way in determining his production during the season.
It appears that one of the risers however is Armon Binns who joined the Dolphins late last season and compiled over 50 yards on six receptions in two games. Binns has looked good thus far with and without pads and is making a strong case for a role as the 4th receiver on the team. He may very well achieve it and while Wallace and Hartline lock the one and two, don’t rule out Binns pushing Gibson at some point for the 3rd spot. Especially if Gibson roller-coasters his play. The competition really heats after that.
The aforementioned McNutt has a lot of upside but he is in a three man race for two positions. Competing against two WR’s already familiar with the system. Rishard Mathews say tangible playing time last season while Jeff Fuller was relegated to the practice squad. Fuller has been in this system however at Texas A&M under Mike Sherman and as a teammate of Ryan Tannehill. For McNutt a shot at making this roster will likely mean ousting Fuller. Both players are going to have to play very well to beat out the other.
With most eyes focused on the top of the depth chart, the real competition at WR comes closer to the bottom. Another deciding factor could very well be which of these WR’s could make an impact on Special Teams? Last season WR Marlon Moore made the Dolphins roster based on his ST contributions. Neither Fuller nor McNutt possess the pure speed to play gunner on kick-off or punt coverage but one could emerge with the drive and desire to make it work if it meant not being on the roster at all.
Of course if neither of the Dolphins two bottom receivers show enough on ST’s and neither show enough on the offense, the Dolphins could easily opt to stick with five WR’s which would likely consist of Wallace, Hartline, Gibson, Binns, and Mathews. For now it really comes down to either Fuller or McNutt to prove to the coaches that sixth spot on the WR’s is more valuable than an extra player at another position.
So the next time you sit up in the bleachers at the Dolphins training facility waiting to “oooh and ahhh” over a Tannehill to Wallace TD pass, you may find it more intriguing to see who is catching and who is dropping the Matt Moore and Pat Devlin passes on units two and three.