With the 2016 season regular season winding down the Miami Dolphins have found a special teams ace in Walt Aikens.
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After what seems like longer than three years it was a revolving door with where Miami thought Aikens fit best in the defense. Is it at cornerback or safety? If he’s a safety, is he a better on the strong side helping in run support or roaming the secondary as the free safety.
A physical specimen Aikens had to be on the field somewhere. Previous defensive coordinators couldn’t figure out that out.
That part’s over now. Aikens, a third year player out of Liberty University, has found his home in Miami.
The last two weeks have been huge for Aikens. If not for being in the right place against the Arizona Cardinals, Miami may have lost that week 14 game all but closing out any chance for the NFL playoffs. Then last week he blocked a punt that jump started a scoring route, leading to a victory over the New York Jets and back in the drivers seat for the Wild Card race.
The Aikens touchdown ultimately broke the game open for Miami. Although it was just six out of 34 points, Miami was looking for a game-changing play and Aikens supplied it.
The scoring plays are great for any special teamer. That particular group of players don’t see the field but maybe a few times a quarter and it’s just for one play. The true worth for this group of players is the hustle which is exactly what you get from guys like Aikens, Michael Thomas and Mike Hull.
Although he’s proving to be an asset on special teams there’s still room for Aikens on the defensive, too. In 2015 he’s started three games coming away with 29 total tackles. In 2016 just seven tackles in 13 games.
With just one year remaining on his rookie deal, Aikens has one more season to prove his worth on defense. He has, however, proven his worth in Darren Rizzi’s unit.
Note: Thomas and Hull have also been standouts on special teams in 2016. Both players are tied for most special teams tackles in the NFL this season with 16 along with New England Patriots defensive back Nate Ebner. All three were pro bowl snubbed by Matthew Slater who was voted in for the fifth season in a row.