AFC East: On the Radar 61010

On the Radar: Chris Clemons

June, 10, 2010
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A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

DAVIE, Fla. -- One of the Miami Dolphins' biggest weaknesses heading into the offseason was free safety.

[+] EnlargeChris Clemons
AP Photo/Phil CoaleThe Dolphins are hoping Chris Clemons is the answer at safety.
They released last year's starter, Gibril Wilson, despite signing him to a lucrative contract last year. They courted free agent Ryan Clark, but he opted to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That left the Dolphins with seemingly very little to work with. Last year's backup, Tyrone Culver, has two career starts in three NFL seasons. Chris Clemons started two games at free safety as a rookie last year. The Dolphins also drafted Reshad Jones out of Georgia in the fifth round.

Free safety is such a question mark that many observers believed the Dolphins would pursue St. Louis Rams free agent O.J. Atogwe, but we haven't seen any signs of serious interest yet.

Maybe that's because of Clemons, who has been making a strong impression throughout minicamp and voluntary workouts.

"Speed, range, and he knows. He understands," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said of Clemons, last year's fifth-round pick from Clemson. "He's been pretty vocal, and those are all qualities that your free safety has to have."

Sparano expressed curiosity in Clemons' tackling ability. They don't have reels of tape on Clemons against NFL competition. He was scratched from the first five games and played in nine as a reserve in addition to his two starts.

He finished the season with seven tackles and zero passes defensed.

"That guy has to be a good tackler back there," Sparano said. "So that's the next step.

"The range, the speed, the mental awareness right now and where he is with our defense is what leads me to believe that the guy can be a good player for us."

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