With the Hall of Fame game upon us, the Miami Dolphins are looking for players to step up from practice performers to game changers and the Tight End position will be in focus with it offering some of the most intrigue as far as position battles on the team goes.
It’s commonly known that some players are better practice players than game players and vice versa, and the Dolphins are looking to sort that out as what they need more than anything else are game players.
Last year the Dolphins struggled attacking the field vertically on the outside and threatening the seams in the middle of the field. They addressed those weaknesses at receiver with the signing of deep threat Mike Wallace and slot receiver Brandon Gibson.
They also addressed that weakness by signing Tight End Dustin Keller, who is supposed to allow the Dolphins to attack the seams in the way they will attack outside the numbers with Wallace and in a way the Dolphins couldn’t attack the last couple years with Anthony Fasano lumbering down the seam.
Thus far, reports from camp have been positive, as quarterback Ryan Tannehill is becoming more comfortable at utilizing the middle of the field, with part of that development accredited to Keller’s speed and ability to create separation.
Those attributes also seem to be rubbing off on the Dolphins returning seam threat, Charles Clay. Over the past 2 years Clay has flashed enough times to show he has big play capability but also shown his wild inconsistency. So far, this off-season has been his best, with more consistent practices instead of the day to day roller coaster it had seemed before.
When put into perspective, the Keller/Clay combo has the chance to be very potent. Their ability to play multiple roles by lining up either on the line, in the backfield, in the slot, or out wide, gives Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman the flexibility to use different formations while keeping the same group on the field. Which in turn allows Tannehill more flexibility in audibling into a better play to take advantage of mismatches.
Fans got a glimpse of that advantage during Monday’s scrimmage, when Clay and Keller both caught TD passes from Tannehill. Both of them beat their guys in coverage and displayed strong running after the catch to muscle their ways into the endzone.
Couple that glimpse with the fast development of rookie Tight End Dion Sims, who’s been taking reps with the starters as the designated inline blocker while displaying fluidity as a pass catcher, and the Dolphins seem to be putting together a potent rotation.
With these flashes and continued growth, the Dolphins are showing they’re no longer seamless at Tight End when it comes to threatening the seams, lets hope the carryover into games is a seamless one.