Miami Dolphins return specialist and running back Marcus Thigpen is entering his third season with the team, and struggled at times last season. He averaged 5 yards less in both punt and kick returning than he did his rookie season (complete stats can be seen here), and often made poor decisions on whether or not to field a ball and which way to run. He did not look as comfortable as he did two years ago, and I think it may be time for the Dolphins to give him some competition.
The Dolphins recently drafted WR Jarvis Landry from LSU and CB Walt Aikens out of Liberty, and both players had some (albeit little) experience returning kicks and punts in college. While Aikens possesses the ideal speed (he ran a 4.49 forty yard dash), it is Landry who arguably has the surest hands from this year’s draft.
I would like to see Jarvis Landry work towards getting some reps as Miami’s punt returner, and would like to see both Landry and Aikens given a chance at competing with Thigpen on kickoff returns. Landry’s good hands would come in handy when fielding both punts and kicks, as there were times last season when I cringed and wondered if Thigpen would cleanly field high arching balls coming his way. As for Aikens, I don’t think it would hurt to see what he brings to the table on kickoffs. When its all said and done, a little competition never hurt, and would either light a fire under the mediocre Thigpen, or provide the ‘Fins with a new spark at the return man position. FINS UP!