DAVIE, Fla. -- Players never know when opportunity will knock in the NFL. For Miami Dolphins backup safety Jimmy Wilson, his big chance happened this weekend after a four-game suspension to starter Reshad Jones.
Wilson got first-team reps in training camp for the first time on Sunday. Jones was handed a four-game suspension on Friday after violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, which potentially thrusts Wilson into the starting lineup.
Although the Dolphins haven't made a firm decision, Wilson is the most likely candidate to start in Weeks 1-4 for Miami. He has been the first safety off the bench and the team's nickel cornerback all offseason.
“He’s had a lot of training there,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of Wilson. “He's gotten a lot of reps at that position over a long period of time. Our defense system has been in place now going on three years. I think he knows the defense very well.”
Wilson, a former seventh-round pick, said he's not sure what this will mean for his role as Miami's nickel corner. It's an important job. But it most likely will be handed over to someone else while Wilson works on being a full-time starting safety. Other candidates for the nickel spot include cornerback Jamar Taylor and backup safety Michael Thomas.
The Dolphins’ first-team defense was inconsistent in Friday’s 16-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Wilson was among those players who left some opportunities on the field. Miami is making it a point this week to focus on fundamentals defensively.
“We got a lot missed tackles last week,” Wilson admitted. “We just plan on making sure that we get guys down, use our technique and be better tacklers.”
The Dolphins’ defense is expected to be the strength of the team even with the suspensions of Jones and defensive end Dion Jordan. Players like Wilson must step up to keep Miami’s defense intact to start the regular season.