Training camp is just around the corner, which means we’re one step closer to Football season. Training camp is ordinarily filled with position battles, breakout players & interesting storylines, and this year is no different. With that being said, here are the 5 things Dolphins fans should keep an eye on during Training Camp.
1. Albert Wilson vs. Lynn Bowden
The top 4 receivers for the ‘Fins are pretty much set; it’ll be: Devante Parkers, Will Fuller, Jaylen Waddle, and Preston Williams. Last year the Dolphins kept 6 receivers on the 53 man roster; logically, that leaves us with 2 spots left to fill. Mack Hollins also has to be kept in consideration since he was one of the top special teams’ players for Miami last year, albeit he provided virtually nothing as a receiver.
Wilson is in danger of getting cut if he doesn’t return to form, especially after missing out on last year’s season (COVID Opt-out) and Bowden doing a nice job at the end of the season, becoming a frequent target for Tua. If Wilson can return to his 2018 form (which is incredibly tough coming off a hip injury) and jump Bowden up the depth chart, he may end up with a spot on this team. Bowden is safe from getting cut since Miami traded a 4th round pick for him last year, but he is in danger of not seeing the field this year.
Wilson does have the advantage here as he’s capable of playing both outside & the slot, while we’ve only ever seen Bowden play the slot.
2. The Offensive Line
The Dolphins O-Line improved last year, which was basically a guarantee since the 2019 unit was atrocious, but it’s still not at the level required for your offense to truly operate at a high level.
Improvement from 2nd-year players like Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley & Robert Hunt should be expected. The additions of Matt Skura & 2nd Round Tackle Liam Eichenberg should probably be enough for the O-Line to show improvement from last year.
The Starting 5 is still unknown, and who will play where is something to monitor.
Will Liam Eichenberg get the Day 1 nod at Right Tackle?
That’s probably the biggest question for me, and if longtime NFL starters DJ Fluker & Jesse Davis will find a role in the starting unit.
3. Backup Running Back
As things stand, Myles Gaskin is undoubtedly the #1 running back on the team (that may change if they bring someone in), but that seems doubtful to happen. Gaskin is a fine running back, who is best suited for a 3rd down role, but can be an average starting running back in the NFL.
Now, who will be getting the backup snaps is the interesting part. Miami brought in longtime Rams backup Malcolm Brown in free agency, who will likely compete with Salvon Ahmed for the backup role.
Brown was the longtime backup for Todd Gurley, and he never did anything that warranted a bigger role for him, as he averaged 4.0 yards throughout his 6-year career.
Ahmed started 4 games for the Dolphins last year, and it had its ups and downs, he had moments where it looked like he would solidify himself as the #1 back, but his deficiencies (mainly pass blocking) are too glaring to hide.
The sleeper in this whole situation is Gerrid Doaks, who was drafted by Miami in the 7th round. He’s a strong running back who is already good at pass blocking. His pass protection may get him on the field over some of the other backs on this team.
I think this is what everyone is interested in seeing; he’s the guy that makes national headlines and the biggest attraction that the Dolphins have.
It’s no secret Tua struggled last year, particularly towards the end; this is the norm for rookie QB’s in the NFL, and Tua was coming off a devastating hip injury, and he’s admitted to his body not being 100% right last year as he was throwing only with his arm and not his entire body.
Unfortunately for Tua, the other 2 Top 10 QB’s in last year’s draft played great Football, and naturally, he’d be compared to them as he doesn’t fare well when you compare him to Burrow & Herbert.
Improvement from Tua is expected, and it all starts during Training Camp.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) July 9, 2021
5. The Xavien Howard Situation
Xavien Howard was arguably the best cornerback in the league last season; he finished 3rd in DPOY voting and was a 1st team All-Pro. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, he didn’t show up to mini-camp, and it’s unknown whether he’ll show up for Training Camp.
He still has 4 years left on his current contract (and he’s still the 6th highest paid corner in the NFL), so his holdout will eventually have to end.
The large question is whether Miami decides to make him the highest-paid corner on the team (currently Byron Jones at 14 million a year) or if Miami grants Xavien the eventual trade request.
Xavien is 28 and has missed a lot of time due to injuries in the past, but his production has never been higher, which means if he were to get traded, the return would likely never be as high as it is right now.
Hopefully, Miami works it out with him, and we get to see the pairing of Byron Jones & Xavien Howard on the field in Week 1.