Will Channing Crowder Remain a Dolphin?
Its put up or shut up time for the former Florida Gator
As news starts to die down and the drought of the NFL offseason begins, we Dolfans begin to think more of our team in depth than about who they will be signing next. Just yesterday, I could not stop thinking about Channing Crowder and how I feel he could be on the bubble. You see, Crowder was signed last year to a three year contract and his production did not match his salary. He ended up having his worst season as a pro, finishing with 52 tackles, one sack and one interception. Crowder’s stats were not the only thing to affect the linebacker last year, as he suffered a plague of injuries. Channing missed two games with a bad shoulder against the division rival New York Jets and New England Patriots. He also finished the season on injured reserved after suffering a lisfranc injury that required surgery during the offseason.
The news does not get better for Crowder. This offseason, while Crowder was rehabbing from lisfranc surgery, the Dolphins were working on improving and revamping their linebacker unit. They showed the door to four linebackers, of which three were starters and one a backup. In return Miami acquired six linebackers through free agency, draft and trade. The Dolphins signed premier inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, acquired Tim Dobbins from the San Diego Chargers in a draft day trade and drafted AJ Edds, Koa Misi, Chris McCoy and Austin Spitler. From that list, Dobbins, Edds and Spitler are all inside linebackers expected to compete with Crowder for the spot opposite to Karlos Dansby.
Dansby replaces Channing immediately as the starter at inside linebacker and is expected to be on the field for the Dolphins at all times. Dobbins is a player whom I believe will give Crowder plenty of competition for his position, posting better stats than Crowder last year. As a backup in San Diego, Dobbins recorded 55 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one interception. Tim is also regarded as an excellent special team’s player. The Dolphins are also very high on AJ Edds who is said to be excellent in coverage and an extremely cerebral player. Jeff Ireland has said Edds is expected to start immediately on passing downs and it would not surprise me to see this rookie give Crowder a run for his money. Edds possesses all the qualities you look for in an inside linebacker and I think he will be a starter for the Fins in the not too distant future. Then there is Austin Spitler, who Miami drafted in the seventh round as a special team ace, but I am told Spitler has impressed in OTAs and Miami really likes the potential they have seen in him. It will not be easy for Spitler to make the team, but he is very well liked by Parcells and could remain as a backup and special team ace.
Not all is lost for Crowder, as we stand today he is the starter opposite of Dansby and is ahead of schedule in his recovery from offseason foot surgery. I believe Channing needs a real strong camp and I hope guys like Dobbins and Edds light a fire under his butt and make him raise his level of play. Through out the years, Crowder has proven to be a very effective tackler and I think he can be a great leader for a team starving for leaders. What Crowder needs to do to remain a Fin is show he is hungry and show he can still be a dominate player at his position. Crowder cannot risk having a bad camp or struggle to get back to form due to his injury. If he struggles in training camp, I seriously believe Crowder can be gone before the season begins.
You might ask yourselves if I want Crowder gone, and the answer is no. Crowder is a veteran who I believe can help this team. He will benefit from playing next to Dansby and they will compliment each other well. I am not saying Crowder will be released, but I could see Miami trading him if they feel he is not performing as he should be. A situation can present itself for Miami where a team like the Carolina Panthers who just lost linebacker Thomas Davis, could eventually come calling. Miami has not shied from letting go of players who have proven to be overpaid and injury prone, especially if a draft pick is involved. The Fins cannot be happy with the way Channing performed last year after resigning him. Crowder has also become injury prone and has built a reputation in the Dolphins locker room as a loud mouth. It is no secret that Crowder’s mouth has gotten him in trouble with the Trifecta before. That is why I believe that one of the biggest questions Dolfans must ask themselves going into training camp is whether Channing Crowder will be a Dolphin in 2010?
Roberto Yanes is a staff writer for FinHeaven and has bee a member of the site for six years under the name FinAtic8480. You can follow his popular commentary on your Miami Dolphins all year long here exclusively at Finheaven!
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