Training camp is an exciting time in the NFL. It’s a time of immense optimism for all 32 teams, and also a time for opportunity.
Every year there are players around the league who surprise in training camp to make a 53-man roster. Some even go as far as making an impact during the regular season. In the past, the Miami Dolphins have seen young unknowns such as safety Jimmy Wilson, receiver Rishard Matthews and defensive back Don Jones develop in training camp and eventually establish roles with the team.
So who has the potential to be this year’s camp surprises for Miami? Here are five possibilities:
1. S Michael Thomas
Analysis: Remember him? Thomas made arguably the biggest play of Miami’s 2013 season when he picked of future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady to seal a win over the rival New England Patriots. Thomas was a late arrival to Miami and was forced to hit the ground running. Now, Thomas had his first full offseason with the Dolphins and believes he will play much faster in Kevin Coyle’s defense. Miami also likes position flexibility, and Thomas has that. He is competing for roles at safety, nickel cornerback, and on special teams.
2. DE Terrence Fede
Analysis: Opportunity knocks for Fede. He was previously projected as a candidate for the practice squad. But the recent four-game suspension for 2013 first-round pick Dion Jordan has opened a spot for another defensive end to make the 53-man roster. It will be up to Fede to take advantage. He has good size and athleticism but needs development. Fede has a chance to continue an interesting trend in Miami, as four consecutive seventh-round picks have made the Dolphins’ 53-man roster.
3. LB Jordie Tripp
Analysis: On paper, Tripp has a lot going against him. Miami’s fifth-round pick is undersized and not overly athletic as a linebacker. But there are intangibles with Tripp, such as leadership and aggressiveness to the football, that NFL evaluators really like. I’m curious to see how that translates when the pads come on. Miami’s linebacker play was inconsistent last season, and the Dolphins are seeking answers. With a strong training camp, Tripp has a chance to add depth on defense and contribute to special teams.