Keller: I Want To Show I Am The Right Guy For The Job

Posted May 23, 2013

Former first-round pick is looking to re-establish himself as one of the NFL’s top tight ends.

After his first OTA practice as a member of the Miami Dolphins, Dustin Keller admitted he had underestimated the South Florida weather.

“I felt great, I felt really good out there,” Keller said. “The thing that was hurting the most was the wind (as in stamina). Have to get that right. I forgot about this Miami heat.”

Keller really isn’t worried about adjusting to the elements, nor he is worried about learning the nuances of a new offense after spending his first five NFL seasons with the New York Jets.

The 2008 first-round pick out of Purdue University is just excited about the prospect of a new season, excited about the thought of re-establishing himself as one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the NFL.

Last year was a painful one for Keller, both from a team and personal standpoint, as injuries limited him to eight games and a career-low 28 catches for a Jets team that tumbled to a 5-11 finish.

“I'm pretty excited,” Keller said. “It's a new chance to re-establish myself. I missed half the season last year, so hopefully (I can) get a whole season under my belt healthy and just do whatever I can to help this team win.”

There’s no question that Keller can help the Dolphins, which is why they signed him on the fourth day of the free agency period, three days after speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace was brought aboard.

In Keller, the Dolphins got a highly productive receiver. Keller averaged 53 catches in his first four seasons in the NFL, with a career-best 65 receptions for 815 yards and five touchdowns in 2011.

Keller gives the Dolphins a downfield threat at tight end that the team hasn’t had in recent years. He’s part of a revamped receiving corps along with Wallace, fellow free agent pick-up Brandon Gibson and holdover Brian Hartline.

After the first OTA practice, Keller described as “really good” the potential of the Dolphins offense.

“Obviously, it's the first day, so you can’t tell everything from the team,” Keller said. “We have a lot of stuff. There's a lot of different things. (Ryan) Tannehill has the ability to take a firm grasp on offense and change a lot of things up. That's what you want. You want a guy who has the ability to do anything. That’s what the Tom Bradys, Peyton Mannings, those guys are allowed to do. It's cool that they give him that much leeway.” For Keller and the other newcomers on offense, this offseason is as much about getting up to speed with the offense as getting themselves physically ready to compete.

“I feel good about it right now,” Keller said, “but I think it's going to take me a couple of weeks to get a good feel for all of this.”

Keller has hurt the Dolphins in the past, catching six or more passes four times in seven career games against Miami. When the Jets beat the Dolphins 31-23 in a Sunday night game in the 2010 season, it was Keller who did the most damage as he finished with six receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

Now, the Dolphins are hoping Keller can do the same kind of damage for them instead of against them. Keller is banking on it — literally.

His contract with Miami is for one year, and that’s because he reportedly turned down an offer for more years.

“Having an injury-plagued year, my worth wasn’t where I think it was at,” Keller said. “So I kind of took a gamble on myself and said I’m better than everybody thinks I am. This definitely is where I want to be for the long term, but I just want to prove that I'm better than last year.

“Just coming off last year, it was kind of a year where everybody didn't see much from me. More than anything, I just wanted to show that I was the right guy for the job when they brought me in here.”

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