And while the game will be mostly insignificant for a bulk of the team’s core, particularly the starters and those with cemented roles, Thursday night will be crunch time for players looking to prove they either belong as a starter, or even on the team all together.
The tight end spot will undoubtedly have one of the brightest spotlights on it, as Miami continues to search for an answer to fill the void left by Dustin Keller’s season-ending knee injury.
“Thursday night is the last night you’re going to be able to display your talent to end up getting your paycheck,” Finsiders analyst and former Dolphin tight end Troy Drayton said on Monday night.
Charles Clay, Dion Sims, Michael Egnew, Kyle Miller and Evan Rodriguez are all out to show the coaching staff they have what it takes to be ‘that guy’ for the Dolphins.
Clay, who was widely viewed to be the most likely starter after Keller went down, says the only focus of the group is to contribute and add to the team’s overall success.
“It’s a friendly competition, we’re all working to make each other better,” Clay said after practice on Tuesday. “At the end of the day, we’re all just working to help this team improve and that’s our main focus.
“Whoever gets the nod, that’s the guy who we’re looking to, to help this team. But I feel like all of us will be able to help this team out.”
Sims, who’s known for his ability as a blocker, says his goal is to prove he has the potential to be a well-rounded tight end that can both catch and block.
“I’m just trying to prove that I’m an all-around guy,” he said on Monday. “Like I’ve said, just being versatile is the best thing I can do for myself to help the team out right now. So I’m just continuing to work on both aspects.”
It would seem as though that work is paying off for the first-year tight end out of Michigan State after making a nice grab over the middle against Tampa Bay last Saturday.
“I was just in the moment,” Sims commented on the catch. “I just had to go up and make a play. I think it was third down, I believe. I just had to make the play. I don’t get many opportunities and I just got to make the best of them.”
Clay, who says he’s been working on his route running and separation in practice, also pointed towards versatility as the most important factor.
“If they need someone to play a tight end, I feel like I can do that,” Clay said. “If they need someone to help out in the slot or at fullback, I feel like I can do that.”
Whether someone ends up winning the role outright, or if it winds up being more of a committee situation, the Dolphins will be hoping the tight end position can at least improve, even if gradually, as the season progresses.
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