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2013 Training Camp Preview: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Posted Jul 10, 2013

Big free agent catches Wallace, Gibson and Keller spice up offense.



Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill could hardly contain his enthusiasm at the start of OTAs in May once he got to see his new toys in action on the practice field. Even though he had been working with free agent wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson and free agent tight end Dustin Keller on his own since the middle of March, their presence in uniform added a sense of finality.

Head Coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman were committed to upgrading the passing game and surrounding Tannehill with more weapons, as was General Manager Jeff Ireland. Wallace, Gibson and Keller add speed, reliability and multiple threats all over the field that will challenge opposing defensive coordinators.

In addition to those free agents, the return of Brian Hartline, last year’s leading receiver, and the hopeful development of rookie tight end Dion Sims only bolsters this aspect of the Dolphins’ offense.

BREAKING DOWN DOLPHINS WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

• Brandon Gibson WR (6-0, 205; 51 REC; 691 YDS) — Gibson can line up anywhere in Sherman’s system. When he played against Miami with the St. Louis Rams last October, Gibson made a highlight-reel catch to keep a late drive alive and his veteran savvy and reliability should only help Tannehill and a young offense.

• Mike Wallace WR (6-0, 199; 64 REC; 836 YDS) — Nobody made a bigger splash this offseason than Wallace when he left the Pittsburgh Steelers and signed with Miami on the first day of free agency. His sprinter’s speed is well documented and he gives the Dolphins the deep threat they have been missing, while his immediate connection with Tannehill should encourage fans and teammates alike.

Rishard Matthews WR (6-0, 210; 11 REC; 151 YDS) — A seventh-round draft choice out of Nevada in 2012, Matthews made his presence known in practice and debuted with a nifty 19-yard reception at the Buffalo Bills. His toughness and solid route running left a strong impression on Philbin and Sherman by season’s end and he is intent on staying on the roster this year.

Armon Binns WR (6-3, 211; 24 REC; 277 YDS) — Philbin and Sherman liked what they saw out of Binns during his limited time after joining the team with three games left as he caught six passes for 67 yards. The former Cincinnati Bengal and Cincinnati Bearcat in college has the size to be a threat in the red zone and enters this season with even more confidence.

• Brian Hartline WR (6-2, 199; 74 REC; 1,083 YDS) — Everything came together for the Canton, Ohio native last season and in the offseason and he has positioned himself to be a go-to receiver for second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins rewarded Hartline with a rich new contract in March and he is prepared to step up as a leader in the room and on the offense.

Marvin McNutt WR (6-2, 215; 0 REC; 0 YDS) — McNutt put up big numbers in college at Iowa, finishing his career with 170 receptions for 2,861 yards and 28 touchdowns and worked his way off of the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad as a rookie last year to play in four games. Miami claimed him off waivers on May 15th and he becomes another big body at wide receiver to keep an eye on.

Charles Clay FB/TE (6-3, 250; 18 REC; 212 YDS) — Clay’s ability to line up in the backfield as well as at tight end is a valuable asset and he is looking to bounce back from the knee injury that ended his season with two games left. His skill set as a receiver down the seam is similar to Dustin Keller’s and the two of them could wreak havoc in two tight end sets.

• Dion Sims TE (6-4, 265; College Totals: 36 REC; 475 YDS) — Sims’ combination of size and speed caught the eye of Ireland and resulted in his being chosen in the fourth round of April’s NFL Draft with the 106th overall pick. He is expected to push last year’s third-round selection, Michael Egnew, and incumbents Clay and Kyle Miller for playing time.

• Dustin Keller TE (6-2, 255; 28 REC; 317 YDS) — Once a member of the hated rival New York Jets, Keller wants to prove that the ankle injury he suffered last season was an anomaly and that he can be a seam threat and a solid blocker for the Dolphins. He chose Miami in free agency because he likes the direction the team is headed and feels like he is a good fit in Sherman’s offense.

• Michael Egnew TE (6-5, 262; 0 REC; 0 YDS) — There was no hiding the fact that Egnew’s rookie campaign was a challenging one and a frustrating one, but he finally got off the inactive list for the last two games. Sherman was tough on Egnew all season but he and Philbin see the potential in him and are hoping he makes big strides this year.

• Kyle Miller TE (6-5, 262; 0 REC; 0 YDS) —Miller was picked up by the Dolphins on November 20th of last year after being waived by the Indianapolis Colts and brought size and depth to the tight end position. Although he was inactive for the last six games, Miller hopes to make some waves at camp.

There are four other wide receivers looking to crack the 53-man roster or at least be assigned to the practice squad – undrafted rookie free agents Chad Bumphis and Jasper Collins and first-year free agents Jeff Fuller and Brian Tyms. Both Fuller and Tyms spent last year on the practice squad.

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