THE MOST INTERESTING OTA & MINI CAMP BATTLES
Football season cannot begin fast enough. There are just four days remaining before players must report to OTAs and personally, I cannot wait. News has been slow and there is not much to report about these days, but things should pick up soon. This week I have decided to go over five possible battles at OTAs and mini-camps this year. These five battles should have Dolfans talking over the next couple of days. Dolfans, prepare yourselves, because this years OTAs and mini-camps should be real interesting.
Analysis: It is clear that Chad Henne is the starter. Henne possesses the big arm, intelligence and pocket presence a franchise quarterback requires in this league, but Henne’s backup remains a mystery. One would think that Chad Pennington would be the immediate backup, but the Fins have said he is the third quarterback on the depth chart. Miami re-signed Pennington this offseason and it appears they have brought him back to be a coach and mentor to Henne. Knowing Pennington, he is going to want to compete for the backup role. The other two quarterbacks are Tyler Thigpen and Pat White, and I have been informed Miami would like to develop Thigpen as a backup and build trade value for him. This would likely mean that the odd man out could be Pat White. Thigpen has been impressive in this league in his short time, while White as a rookie did not show much at the QB position. A position change could help White, but I would like to see what this talented former second round pick has to show. Unless the Dolphins can trade one of their backup quarterbacks it appears that there is a clear battle on the roster for the two remaining QB spots. I truly believe this will turn out to be one of the biggest stories out of training camp, especially if the Dolphins give up on their former second round pick Pat White.
Analysis: Every time I have to write or think of the R&R express taking their final ride together it really brings a tear to my eye. Ronnie and Ricky are an incredible one-two punch and I will enjoy every yard, first down and touch down they have this season. I also will be watching closely who is the final running back or running backs that remain with the team behind the R&R express. The Dolphins have three promising running backs on the roster behind Ronnie and Ricky. Patrick Cobbs is a guy who can line up at running back, full back, wide receiver and can play special teams. Cobbs is also a favorite of Coach Sparano. Due to Cobbs’ ability to play different roles, he has a good chance to make the final spot or spots at the position, but he will have to prove he is healthy after ending the season on IR with a knee injury. Then there is Lex Hilliard, who made the team last year and was the fourth running back on the roster due to his power running style and ability to play special teams. It would be wise for the Fins to keep developing this power rusher, especially with what appears to be the final year of the R&R express. Last is Kory Sheets, a quick and shifty running back, which will have to leave everything on the field if he plans on making the team. Kory would be wise to show off his kick returning and punt returning skills and I think he could be back on the practice squad if he does not make the roster and clears waivers.
Analysis: I find it hard to believe that the fifth wide receiver spot belongs to Patrick Turner. Patrick last year did not do anything to see the field on a team desperate for wide receiver talent. Patrick will have to show a lot for the fifth and final receiver spot to go to him. First thing he must show is the ability to actually see the field on Sundays. It will not be an easy task with five hungry young wide receivers competing for the spot. Turner also needs to show he can play special teams. My personal favorite Grice-Mullen could be the most likely to give Turner a run for his money due to his ability to return kicks and punts, aside from being a wide receiver. Then there is Pruitt, Johnson, Moore and Wallace which are all fast, tall and loaded with potential. I seriously believe that the spot will go to the receiver that can contribute the most and that is why playing special teams, returning kicks and punts can really benefit all of these guys. I know Johnson and Moore saw time at fielding punts during the rookie mini camps, but how good they are remains to be seen. If I am Patrick Turner I forget about being drafted in the third round and focus on becoming the best at the position. It is clear the Fins have a spot at wide receiver open and some of those players might be willing to do whatever it takes to make an NFL team.
Analysis: Talk about having depth at a position and that is what the Miami Dolphins have at Guard. The Fins will enter OTAs and mini camps with the both Guard positions open for battle. This is a battle I am really looking forward to watching this offseason. You have Donald Thomas, a mammoth of a player, but his inexperience and durability has the coaches wondering. Then there is Nate Garner, a player that is very versatile, being able to play every position along the line and at times even lining up at TE. During the offseason, the Dolphins also added the proclaimed dirtiest player in the league, and hell of run blocker in Richie Incognito. Last but not least, Miami drafted John Jerry a player who can start from day one and is loaded with potential. Add those up and you have the formula for one of the most physical camp battles this year.
Analysis: From all the positions and camp battles I have mentioned the most important one has to be the battle at Safety. Not one position has more uncertainty than free safety. As it stands right now, the Fins have veterans Tyron Culver & Chris Clemons along with rookie Reshad Jones all fighting for one spot. I personally would love to see Culver, a player who has shown plenty of flashes in the past, win the spot, but with Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones behind him that will be no easy task. Chris Clemons was drafted last year and has the athleticism to man the spot, but it is rookie Reshad Jones who I really feel can be the steal of this draft class. Say what you want, but his hard hitting style and ball hawking ability has to have Dolfans drooling. If this kid can prove he can read and recognize offenses, Miami has found them selves a gem. My eyes and ears will be wide open when it comes to this camp battle. Then again, Miami could go after Atogwe after June 1st and if able to sign him solve a great uncertainty.
Roberto Yanes has been a member of FinHeaven for six years and goes by the name FinAtic8480 on our forums. He lives in Miami and has been a hardcore Dolphins fan for over 10 years.
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