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Egnew Earns Sherman’s Praise

Posted Oct 29, 2013

Second-year tight end has shown significant growth.



Not everything about football can be explained by statistics, and Miami Dolphins second-year tight end Michael Egnew is living proof.

Through seven games, Egnew’s two catches for 19 yards might not seem like much at all, but compared to where he was as a rookie who received some unwanted national attention on HBO’s Hard Knocks, he has made a huge leap. It’s evident in how he practices and how he plays on Sundays, Mondays and this week on Thursday night.

Egnew was inactive for the first 14 games last season and in the final two he did not catch a single pass. This year he already has two starts under his belt and is an integral part of a three-man rotation at tight end with regular starter Charles Clay and rookie Dion Sims, quickly emerging as the best blocker of the group.

“The guy that really caught my eye I think is Michael Egnew, from where he was and the development that he’s had as a person as well as a player just maturity,” said offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who was the one caught on camera last summer berating Egnew. “He got married, he has a baby now, he’s a father and that brings on certain responsibilities and he’s got a little more things on his plate. So maybe he’s grown up a little bit, but I’m proud of where he’s at.”

As if mastering the responsibilities of his position wasn’t enough, Egnew was asked to take on the fullback role last week at New England in certain situations and more than held his own. There aren’t too many 6-foot-5, 262-pound fullbacks in the National Football League.

Imagine the surprise on Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich’s face when he tried to cut off running back Lamar Miller’s angle on a swing pass to the right, only to run into the towering frame of Egnew. He got totally taken out of the play as Egnew blocked him to the inside so Miller could pick up the extra five yards down the sideline on a drive that ended in Miami’s first touchdown. Egnew also had some textbook blitz pickups that he executed well.

“A couple weeks ago we didn’t have a fullback and we were kind of one dimensional,” Sherman said. “The further your hips are from the ground, the tougher it is to play fullback in my mind. Mike’s like an ostrich type of guy. You don’t see many ostrich’s playing fullback. Literally, his hips are that high off the ground, but that son of a gun has become a tough guy. He’s like shot out of a cannon. He made some really, really good blocks in the game.”

It’s not every day that a football player gets compared to an ostrich – and probably for a good reason. Those birds are not necessarily the most appealing in terms of looks.

“I’d rather be a war hawk,” Egnew told The Palm Beach Post. “Or an eagle.”

Sims and Egnew sit next to each other in the locker room both at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility in Davie and at Sun Life Stadium, so the two of them have gotten close. Egnew can easily relate to what Sims is going through as a rookie in terms of adjusting to life in the NFL and to the pace of practices and games.

While Clay has separated himself as the most potent pass-catching threat of the group with 30 receptions for 326 yards and a team-high three touchdowns, Sims also has a touchdown catch and is picking up blocking tips from Egnew and tight ends coach Dan Campbell. He is almost as tall as Egnew at 6-4 and a little heavier at 265 pounds and has a lot of respect for how Egnew took on the fullback role.

“Egnew is doing a great job,” Sims said. “Coaches see it and he’s doing a great job at the fullback spot. By him being versatile and able to play back there and play tight end on the line and being able to split out, it’s making him a weapon in our offense. Eventually, I’ll probably get there too. Clay does it so it’s just something that all of us can do if we need to do it.”

Right now Egnew is doing it at a high level, much to Sherman’s satisfaction. And that Hard Knocks episode feels like it’s in the distant past for both of them.

“I’m really proud of how he’s come around and we also line him up in base,” Sherman added. “When you’re a fullback who can line up in the backfield but also split him out in empty, he actually caught a pass when we spread him out in the first half and we did some things with him out there. He made a nice catch out there. He really brings a dimension to us that I really enjoy.”