For all the fanfare that surrounded three of the free agent signings made by the Miami Dolphins, it’s the one that initially didn’t make as big of a ripple that stands out. That player was cornerback
Unlike wide receiver
By season’s end, Grimes not only removed any doubt but he established himself as one of the elite cornerbacks in the AFC and in the entire National Football League. His second Pro Bowl berth confirmed that fact, as did his team-leading four interceptions and 16 passes defensed.
Early on in training camp it became evident just how special a player Grimes was going to be when he lined up one-on-one opposite Wallace and won more than his fair share of the battles. Grimes is listed at 5-foot-10 and 183 pounds but his leaping ability is off the charts, as is his underrated speed.
Opposing offensive coordinators quickly figured out how futile it was to try and throw the ball in Grimes’ direction, virtually allowing him to shut down one entire side of the field. It didn’t matter if he was matched up with small and quick receivers or tall and lanky ones, he never backed down and continued to make athletic and acrobatic plays.
Grimes didn’t shy away from contact in the run game either and wasn’t afraid to lower his head to deliver a big hit on a big tight end or powerful running back. He finished fifth on the team in tackles with 60 (52 solo) and helped stabilize a secondary that dealt with injuries to fellow starter
One day after Miami’s season ended with a tough 20-7 home loss to the New York Jets, Grimes reiterated his desire to stay in Miami and continue to flourish with the Dolphins. What he showed on film and in the locker room should strengthen his case in the eyes of whomever the team’s new general manager ends up being.
Grimes made a number of highlight-reel plays in 2013, most notably his 94-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in Miami’s 22-20 overtime victory on Halloween night. But his first interception in a Dolphins uniform at Indianapolis in Week 2 truly was a defining moment that validated his signing.
With his team clinging to a 24-20 lead on the road in front of a hostile crowd and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck poised to complete one of his signature fourth-quarter comebacks, Grimes got position on Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne and jumped in front of him in the end zone to pick off the potential touchdown pass. There was still just under nine minutes left in the game, but Grimes’ play sucked the life out of Lucas Oil Stadium and Miami’s offense chewed up another four-plus minutes off the clock, forcing Luck to try and go 86 yards. He came up short on a 4th-and-10 when Wheeler sacked him, but it was Grimes’ interception that stood out as the key play of that game.
By earning his second trip to Hawaii (he went in 2010 with Atlanta), Grimes became just the third Dolphins cornerback in franchise history to make it to the Pro Bowl. He joins Sam Madison (1999-2002) and Patrick Surtain (2002-04).
“He’s a phenomenal athlete, and he has incredible eye-hand coordination, athleticism, and I think he sleeps with the football. Really, as soon as he walks out on the practice field you see him everyday, he’s got a ball in his hands during stretch. He’s flipping it around. He’s catching it. He’s kicking it. He’s a ball of energy. He’s got great ball skills. He makes some catches he makes look so easy in practice at times. He’s a terrific athlete.” – Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle
“The guy is quick, great speed, great ball skills and he’s a veteran in the game. He’s been in the league for a while. He has seen and done a lot in this league. He comes out and practices pretty good and he’s helping the young guys come along.” – Dolphins safety