As we tick the days off to the season opener against the Patriots on Sept. 7, each day we highlight the players who wore that particular jersey number during their tenure in Miami. In some cases, the player and jersey number are synonymous. In other cases, the jersey number represents sustained greatness at a particular position. Whatever the case may be, jersey numbers are an important part of the fabric of professional football.
Worn by 21 different players, this was a jersey in search of a starter, and it took 32 years to finally find one. After being worn by role players and backups starting with center Mike Hudock in 1966, it was worn by a bona-fide starter for the first time in 1998 when Robert Jones (1998-00) began a three-year run at linebacker. Strong against the run, he teamed with Derrick Rodgers and Zach Thomas during that time to give the Dolphins solid play at that position. In his first season in Miami, he was part of a defense that allowed an NFL low 265 points, registered 100 total tackles and had five sacks. Jones was followed by another starting linebacker, Morlon Greenwood (2001-04), the first Dolphin player ever born in Jamaica. He played soccer growing up and only had one year of organized football under his belt when he began his collegiate career at Syracuse, but adapted quickly to his responsibilities with the Dolphins, starting 12 games as a rookie and 32 more the next three years. One of the most colorful players in team history, linebacker Channing Crowder (2005-10), picked up the starting mantle after that. He was one of three father-son combinations to play for the team (his father, Randy Crowder played for Miami from 1974 through 1976) and they were the only duo who were both drafted by the Dolphins. Crowder was a solid player during his Dolphin tenure, doing the dirty work at linebacker while players like Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor and Joe Porter accumulated the tackles and sacks. The number is now worn by Philip Wheeler
(2013-current), who led the Dolphins with 118 tackles last year in his initial season with the team.
The complete list of Dolphins who have worn #52 includes Hudock (1966); Jimmy Keyes (1968-69); Mike Dennery (1976); Larry Ball (1977-78); Mel Land (1979); Steve Shull (1981-83); Emmitt Tilley (1983); Terry Tautolo (1983-84); Sanders Shiver (1984); Robin Sendlein (1985); *Dennis Fowlkes (1987); Scott Nicolas (1987); Mike Reichenbach (1990-91); Roosevelt Collins (1992); Brant Boyer (1994); Jeff Kopp (1995); Jones (1998-00); Greenwood (2001-04); Crowder (2005-10); Mike Rivera (2012); and Philip Wheeler (2013).
Tomorrow: Can you name the two Pro Bowlers, who played on opposite sides of the line of scrimmage, who wore # 51?
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