With training camp fast approaching there will obviously be some players grabbing the headlines during the preseason. But sometimes the majority of players are overlooked in favor of some of the marquee names on the roster. It happens all over the NFL and it will happen again this year in Miami. Several players will be in competition to garner a larger role in 2014. It’s always difficult to evaluate players before the team actually puts on the pads for training camp, but here’s a list of some names that might play a bigger part than you would think this upcoming season.
Derrick Shelby, DE
- Defensive end is one of the strengths of the entire defensive unit and Derrick Shelby should play a bigger role in 2014. One of the reasons why I say this is the loss of Dion Jordan, although significant, shouldn’t alter the productivity of that position is because of Shelby. He has the size to play a more prominent role in run defense, but also has the athletic ability to rush the passer when asked. Because of those attributes, he can play on any down regardless of the situation, and that will allow Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle the freedom of rotating him in place of Cameron Wake or Olivier Vernon when needed.
Jamar Taylor, CB
- The 2013 season was a frustrating year for the talented defensive back. It looks like the injuries and mental struggles of the past are just that, in the past. Jamar Taylor has looked great leading up to training camp, and has played on the outside as well as inside at the nickel position. With the experience of Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan holding down the edge of the defense, Taylor’s role will definitely be more of spot duty play, and a heavy dose of special team activity. Look for Taylor to play a major role when opposing offenses go to a multiple wide receiver set, or to be the first man up if either corner comes off the field for any reason.
Shelley Smith, OL
- The unit that needed the most immediate help on the entire team is the offensive line, and Shelley Smith‘s role will be significant in 2014. The free agent addition from the St. Louis Rams is in line to be a starter as part of the new look line that will feature five new starters this year. Smith has seen action the entire offseason at the right guard position. With the potential loss of Mike Pouncey at center for the month of September, Smith may get a look at that position during training camp and the preseason. Smith took spot reps at center during OTAs, which leads me to believe that he has position flexibility on the interior of the offensive line. If Smith and company can bridge the gap created the Pouncey injury, it will help the Dolphins offense start fast, and build momentum in the beginning of the season.
Jelani Jenkins, LB
- The second-year linebacker played sparingly in 2013, but his speed and instincts have closed the gap at the outside linebacker position. When Jelani Jenkins did play, he was used more on 3rd down because of his coverage skills in passing situations. A spot where he will definitely impact the Dolphins is on special teams, as he was fifth on the team last season in total tackles. He’s one player to keep an eye on in training camp because the linebacker position as a whole needs to create more game-changing plays, and Jenkins just might have the skill set to do that.
Terrence Fede, DE
- Although Terrence Fede is very raw in terms of pedigree, he did enough during the offseason program to catch my attention. Initially thought of as an interior defensive lineman, Fede’s athleticism and ability to run might garner him more looks at the defensive end position this preseason. I mentioned Derrick Shelby’s role potentially increasing due to Dion Jordan’s four game suspension, and this statement holds true for a player like Fede as well. It’s always a stretch for a seventh round draft choice to make an impact right away, but the Dolphins may be in a position to fast-track Fede’s development for a more immediate look faster than anyone could imagine.
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