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Rookie WR Matthews Awaiting His Shot; Other Notes

Posted Sep 14, 2012

Strong preseason could pay off for seventh-round pick.

Depth at wide receiver is a prerequisite in today’s NFL and the Miami Dolphins could be testing theirs Sunday with rookie Rishard Matthews should Anthony Armstrong not be available.

Matthews was a seventh-round pick of April’s NFL Draft and came on strong near the end of training camp, especially in the last three preseason games. He was not active last week in Houston for the season opener against the Texans but has kept himself prepared.

At 6-feet and 210 pounds, Matthews brings a physical presence to the position that was on display against the Carolina Panthers in the second preseason game. He drug two defenders into the end zone for a touchdown after catching a quick slant, which he views as one of his strengths when it comes to picking up extra yards after the catch.

“I’ve always been a guy that prides himself on picking up yards after the catch,” said Matthews, who caught 147 passes for 2,243 yards and 13 touchdowns during his college career at the University of Nevada. “But I still can try to perfect everything about my game, from getting my technique and fundamentals down both on special teams and at receiver. I just want to show the coaches that I am learning the offense and that I’m going to do whatever it takes to help the team.”

Matthews looks to fifth-year wide receiver Davone Bess as his mentor and as an excellent example of how hard work can pay off in a big way. Bess went undrafted in 2008 and now he’s considered one of the top slot receivers in the league, which is also why Head Coach Joe Philbin looks to him as one of the key leaders in the locker room.

Whether it’s running textbook routes or showing how to properly catch any type of pass, Bess has developed into the type of player Philbin wants all of his young players – not just the receivers – to pay close attention to. For Bess, he sees a little of himself in Matthews.

“He works hard and he catches the ball really well with a lot of stuff going on with the offense and just different looks and pressures,” Bess said. “Overall I think he’s doing a good job at grasping the offense and taking advantage of what’s given to him. He caught a lot of balls at Nevada and he can run after the catch so those are some good qualities to be a receiver, catch the ball and run after the catch. Collectively as a group we all help each other and we all lean on each other for advice.”

INJURY UPDATE

Running back Daniel Thomas (concussion), defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (knee) and wide receiver Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) did not practice for the Dolphins. Thomas and McDaniel are officially out for Sunday’s game and Armstrong is listed as doubtful … Linebacker Jonathan Freeny (thumb) and defensive end Randy Starks (groin) both participated in a full practice and are being listed as probable … For the Raiders, cornerback Ron Bartell (shoulder) and wide receiver Jacoby Ford (foot) did not practice and are out for the game. … Running back Taiwan Jones (ribs), linebacker Rolando McClain (ankle) wide receiver Juron Criner (ankle), long snapper Jon Condo (concussion) and center Alex Parsons (shoulder) were limited and are questionable for Sunday. … Tight ends David Ausberry (shoulder) and Brandon Myers (shoulder), safety Michael Mitchell (ribs), defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee), wide receiver Denarius Moore (hamstring) and kicker Sebastian Janikowski (hamstring) all practiced in full and are listed as probable.

COACH SPEAK

“I think he’s got an excellent future in this league. He’s progressing nicely. He’s a good football player, moves well. We use the term “he moves like a football player.” The kid moves like a running back. He’s got good balance and a little bit of base, keeps his feet in pretty close contact with the ground and he’s got some speed and can catch the ball He’s got some ability.” – Philbin on rookie running back Lamar Miller

“You know the Oakland Raiders probably since the days I remember (with Cliff Branch), that’s a big part of their game and they’ve got those guys on the outside, on the perimeter that can run, so obviously angles are going to be important. And again it’s based on what coverage we’re in. Are we in a two-deep or are we in a one-high? Is it man or is it zone? But it’s safe to say those safeties are going to have to be active. If it’s two-deep they’re going to have to be able to get off the hash and provide help and get over there and make a play on the ball. If it’s one-high they’re obviously not going to be quite as close but still they should be factor on those balls downfield.” – Philbin how Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer’s ability to throw the deep ball will impact Miami’s safety

“I thought they played well the other day. We clearly won that phase; I’m convinced of that. They had a huge impact play with the touchdown return. We started the game off right, though we had a penalty on the first return, but our kickoff coverage team did a great job. There were a lot of positives in the film. The effort was exceptional, the play speed. I thought they got off to an excellent start. Certainly we have room for improvement and things we’ve got to get better, but they played winning football.” – Philbin on the play of his special teams

LOCKER ROOM TALK

“Definitely I’m excited being able to play in front of the home crowd and I’m familiar with the stadium obviously. I might actually be there as a fan Saturday to watch the University of Miami play Bethune-Cookman. My parents will be there to support me and they always have the best tailgates before the game, but they always save the leftovers for me so I’m looking forward to that.” – rookie linebacker and Miami native Olivier Vernon on playing his first home regular-season game in the NFL

“That definitely reassuring to me and lets me know that my guys know what we’re doing and who they have and I feel protected. I feel safe back there, so every time I catch the ball. I know that somebody’s blocking somebody and it makes me want to do better for them.” – rookie running back and kick returner Marcus Thigpen on what he learned after watching film of his 72-yard punt return for a touchdown at Houston

“I think Seymour’s a great player. He is big, he’s quick and he’s strong and he can rush the passer and can shed blocks well. It’s going to be a good test for us. Every time he’s played us it’s been a big test. He was a great player with the Patriots and he’s a great player with Oakland so wherever he’s at he’s going to do a good job.” – Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long on facing Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour

“I think it’s a lot harder than a lot of people think. I think a lot of people can just throw the ball back there and get it back there someway or somehow. But to have the precision of putting it in the punter’s right position where he wants to punt it and then from there just to get a block on punt team when you have crossers to read that and then to get down the field the way he does and make tackles? That’s a hard job and a great job that he does and helps us out tremendously.” – linebacker and backup long snapper Jason Trusnik on how valuable regular long snapper John Denney is to the team

DOLPHINS TIDBITS

## Around five or six months ago, Bess got a tattoo on his back of his jersey number 15 that was done to the precise dimensions of his actual jersey. He said it’s now a permanent reminder of how hard he worked to make the Dolphins roster since that was the number assigned to him back in 2008, saying it was the second hardest thing he had done his life behind getting back into college football after being incarcerated. “It keeps me humble and it keeps me grounded,” said Bess, who turned down a healthy offer from Brandon Marshall two years ago to give up his number. “It’s deeper than money and means too much too me.”

## In an effort to set the right mood for Sunday, the first song played during warm-ups and stretching was “Run This Town,” by Jay-Z, Kanye West and Rhianna. One of the key lyrics was, “Can't be scared when it goes down. Got a problem, tell me now. Only thing that's on my mind is who’s gonna run this town tonight.”

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