Wilson Turning Into A Special Player

Posted Dec 12, 2013

Former seventh-round pick is a dual threat difference maker.

Impact plays can come from anywhere on the football field and Miami Dolphins defensive back Jimmy Wilson is proving that this season.

Wilson has emerged as a reliable and effective member of Miami’s secondary both as a backup safety and a nickel corner. But special teams is where he made his mark as a rookie in 2011 and he continues to take that part of his job very seriously.

Last Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wilson burst through the middle of the line and deflected a punt a late in the second quarter that was recovered by his teammate, Jason Trusnik, at the Steelers’ 43. That’s the third time in his career that Wilson has got his hands on a punt, including one last year at the New York Jets that was recovered in the end zone by Olivier Vernon for a touchdown and it never gets old.

“There’s nothing like a blocked punt, especially if you block it when your team needs it,” said Wilson, who has 28 solo tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble and two passes defensed so far this season. “If you watch the practice film, (special teams coordinator Darren) Rizzi had us out there running that play maybe a thousand times. I was already saying on Saturday when we were going up the elevators to our hotel rooms and I was telling everybody that as long as I’ve got Trusnik I know he’s going to do his job and I’m going to get a block in the game.”

Wilson broke down the play in explicit detail, describing how Trusnik fired hard in the A gap to bring the punt protector with him, leaving a lane in the middle open for Wilson to have a direct path to the punter. The play was officially ruled a deflection since the referee determined that the ball went forward one yard but that could be changed back to a block, which would give Wilson a tie with Tim Foley for the most blocked punts in a career.

Head Coach Joe Philbin has taken notice of the way Wilson performs on punt block, punt coverage, kickoff coverage and kickoff return because he has noticed no drop-off from when Wilson is on defense. This is Philbin’s second season watching Wilson and he has been very impressed with the results.

“He’s got a lot of energy, he plays the game, he likes to compete and he likes to go out there and make plays,” Philbin said. “He’s not bashful on the football field and he’s a fun guy to have. On the sidelines he’s energetic, he’s positive, he’s into the game. I think you’d like to see guys like that have success because they’re out there busting their tail. They want to do well.”

Even though he is a regular in the secondary and has created highlights like his game-clinching interception of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in the home opener, Wilson hasn’t forgotten his roots. Once he showed up to training camp as a rookie knowing he was a late round pick, he knew special teams was his best route onto the active roster.

Some players graduate to a starting role and no longer have to line up on kickoffs or punts, but it’s pretty clear that if Wilson had his way he’d never leave those units. It’s that all-important third phase that can decide the outcome of a game.

“This is a grown man’s sport and once you’re inside the lines no matter what play you’re on you should be going your hardest,” Wilson said. “If not then you’re cheating the team and cheating yourself and I want to be that guy to make a play. I like the celebration and I like to feel like I did something for the team, so it doesn’t matter. They told me when I got here early that was going to be how I make the team and how I was going to stay in the league. So I’ll just take that same mentality from week to week and year to year.”
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