The return of football is always a welcome sight, perhaps now more than ever before. An arduous offseason is in the books and everyone's favorite time of year is on the precipice. August in Miami means heat, humidity, hitting and hard decisions made in order to trim the roster down to 53 in time for Week 1.
In this training camp preview, we're going position-by-position giving you a glimpse into every member of the Miami Dolphins roster. We'll cover all the angles including who the players are on the field and off of it.
On today's docket, the safeties, in order of jersey number.
Eric Rowe – 5 accrued seasons (2nd in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 27
Signing a one-year deal in February of 2019, Eric Rowe started off his first season as a Dolphin playing cornerback. After the Week 5 bye, Rowe transitioned to strong safety and enjoyed a breakout campaign, allowing 24 receptions on 45 targets (53 percent completion) for 227 yards (5.04 yards per target). Rowe's flexibility manning up tight ends, running backs, playing deep and in the slot earned the former Utah Ute a contract extension.
"He's a versatile player," Flores said after the extension. "Obviously he's played multiple positions this year. He's got good length. He's a good matchup for tight ends in coverage. He's played some deep-half, middle-of-the-field safety, played corner, safety, kind of understands the run fits now. That versatility helps, will help us defensively and hopefully just continues to improve and we expect that. We expect him to improve, and we wouldn't have done the deal if we didn't think that."
Playing different positions in the secondary and allowing a 2019 completion rate of just 58.5 percent, Rowe also factored into the run game. He made 81 tackles, 23 run stops, and missed just five opportunities to make a stop from Week 2 on (good for a 93.3 percent successful tackle rate).
Steven Parker – 1 accrued season (2nd in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 24
Arriving on September 1st, Steven Parker had two weeks to acclimate into considerable playing time in 2019. After taking 33 defensive reps in his first two games as a Dolphin, Parker's workload jumped to 105 in the following two. In total, he played 339 snaps on defense and 74 on special teams.
Parker made arguably the highlight-reel play of the Dolphins season with a touchdown-saving effort in the win over Indianapolis. Parker took the ball out of the arms of Eric Ebron and secured the Dolphins touchback in a game Miami would go on to win by four points.
"He works really hard," Flores said three weeks after Parker's arrival. "He's spent a lot of time with our younger coaches getting up to speed on what we're doing. He's a lot more comfortable now than he was when he got here. He's obviously played a little bit the past couple of weeks, and I like what I've seen. I like what I'm seeing at practice. Again, this is another guy who football is important to him and he wants to take advantage of his opportunities. I think he'll do that."
Bobby McCain – 5 accrued seasons (6th in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 27
A team captain in his first year in Brian Flores' defense, the former cornerback made the switch to safety in 2019, playing the majority of his snaps over the top. The team-first mindset, sure-tackling and communication skills will always go a long way with the man in charge in Miami.
"I think Bobby can do a lot of things from a communication standpoint, from a tackling standpoint, from a play-making standpoint," Flores said last summer. "He's been very good so far. He's smart enough definitely to move around. He can play corner, he can play safety, he can play nickel, he can play a variety of positions. He's a smart player and a guy who's made a lot of plays in this league. We're looking forward to working with him."
The longest-tenured member of the Dolphins defense, McCain was drafted in 2015 and has logged 3,071 snaps in his career. He's made 208 tackles (nine for loss) with 50 run stops, four sacks, six interceptions, and 25 pass breakups.
Brandon Jones – Rookie
Opening Day Age: 22
Brandon Jones made a unique request to all 32 NFL teams in the lead up to this year's draft. Recovering from a shoulder injury and unable to work out at the Combine, Jones inquired about each club's defensive film. He watched four games of every team – 128 total – and put together a binder bigger than the South Florida phone book.
Jones made 198 tackles in his three seasons as a starter at Texas. Last year, he intercepted two passes and broke up seven others. He made 4.5 tackles for a loss last year with one sack and a forced fumble.
With blocked punts and return touchdowns on his resume, Jones played all over Texas' special teams units, but he also played everywhere on the defense. Per Pro Football Focus, Jones played 285 snaps last year at free safety and 154 in the box. His most frequent position was in the slot with 371 snaps. In total, over a three-year career, Jones played 2,333 snaps for the Longhorns with 1,285 of those plays coming in pass coverage.
General Manager Chris Grier was asked in his post-draft media availability how much special teams capabilities factored into the Dolphins decision to draft the Texas Longhorn.
"It's his whole game. He's a good football player," Greir said. "He's smart, he tackles, he covers, he can play on (special) teams. We met him at the Senior Bowl and the coaching staff and Brian felt really good about him. The more that we got to spend time – they showed that thing about him watching every team's (defensive plays). He's a really good football player and an all-around football player."
Kavon Frazier – 4 accrued seasons (1st in MIA)
College: Central Michigan
Opening Day Age: 26
A four-year veteran, Kavon Frazier played in 44 games in Dallas, starting two during the 2018 season. In his career, Frazier has amassed 67 total tackles, a sack, forced a fumble and made four tackles for loss on 461 career defensive snaps. He's prototypically built at an even six feet, 220 pounds.
A special teams standout in college, that prowess continued into the professional ranks. He played 638 special teams reps over his four years in Dallas. His participation in the third phase of the game is widespread. Frazier has 156 kick return, 229 kickoff coverage, 140 punt return, 145 punt coverage, and 16 reps on field goal block to his resume. He's made 17 total tackles as a Cowboys special teams ace.
Adrian Colbert – 3 accrued seasons (2nd in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 26
After Bobby McCain was lost for the season with an injury, the Dolphins brought Adrian Colbert – a former Miami Hurricane – back home to South Florida. Previously on the Seahawks practice squad, Colbert stepped into the lineup and contributed immediately. Colbert played 64 snaps at free safety in the team's Week 13 come-from-behind win over the Eagles, just his second game with the team.
Colbert would go on to play 410 snaps (361 on defense, 49 on special teams) starting every December game for the Dolphins. Colbert made 22 tackles and broke up two passes, showing the range and closing speed to play free safety. Flores was impressed with Colbert's energy and ability to acclimate to the defense quickly.
"He brings a lot of energy on a day-to-day basis," Flores said. "He's got some leadership qualities. He's been here for three weeks and it feels like he's been here all year. He's smart. He's a really good teammate. It's important to him. He works extremely hard from a preparation standpoint. He's here early, stays late trying to get the information correct. He's a guy who brings people together. It's been good having him."
Clayton Fejedelem – 4 accrued seasons (1st in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 27
A captain on the Bengals special teams unit that Pro Football Focus ranked sixth in 2019, Fejedelem certainly balled out in the all-important kicking and coverage units. He's played 1,435 career snaps on special teams and his 14 tackles on that unit in 2017 ranked second in the NFL. Fejedelem has been a consistent contributor according to Pro Football Focus grades – he has an average career special teams grade of 73.7.
Fejedelem has 694 career snaps on defense on his resume – 278 against the run and 392 in coverage. He has six quarterback pressures on 24 pass-rush reps, 15 run stops and a passer rating against of just 81.3. He put a 2018 Week 1 victory on ice in Indianapolis with a forced fumble and recovery returned for a touchdown.