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Youngsters See Action In Finale

Posted Dec 30, 2012

A dearth of rookies took the field against the Patriots.

FOXBORO, Mass. – There is no denying the Miami Dolphins are a young team and that was highlighted today at Gillette Stadium just by looking at the active roster.

Of the 20 players on offense that dressed, seven of them were rookies (quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Lamar Miller, fullback Jorvorskie Lane, right tackle Jonathan Martin, wide receiver Rishard Matthews, tight end Michael Egnew and center/guard Josh Samuda). Wide receiver Armon Binns and running back/kick returner Marcus Thigpen are first-year players, so that means that nine of the 20 players on offense are either rookies or first-year players.

That’s almost half of the offense under first-year Head Coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, and when you take into account that center Mike Pouncey just finished his second season and starting right guard John Jerry finished his third it’s even more telling. A young core is being built on that side of the ball, with four of those rookies having lined up as starters today (Tannehill, Lane, Martin and Matthews).

“We’ve got a lot of young guys with a lot of experience throughout the year,” said Tannehill, who completed 20-of-35 passes for 235 yards. “A lot of guys stepped up and got a lot of playing time early in their careers obviously. So hopefully we can use that as a building block, really grow this offseason as a unit, come together and really get to know this offense as we go into our second year in it and really come together and grow.”

Tannehill became the first rookie quarterback in franchise history to start all 16 games of his rookie season and Martin followed in the footsteps of Pouncey by starting all 16 games, the first 12 at right tackle and the last four at left tackle. Even though they fell short of helping Miami finish the season with an 8-8 record, the confidence these players gained from the amount of playing time they got is immeasurable.

Obviously, the suddenness of the season coming to a close is new to this rookie class and the realization that there is not another game next week to prepare for began to set in inside the locker room. Now it’s the bigger picture of working on improvements during the offseason.

“It leaves a bad taste in your mouth not playing well and then not coming out with a win or even scoring,” Martin said. “It gives you something to think about during the offseason and this gives me a lot of motivation and tangible things to work on during the offseason.”

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