Miami Dolphins: Rishard Matthews

Miami Dolphins Stock Watch

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
The Miami Dolphins are halfway through their preseason, and we’ve seen both good and bad.

Here is a look at whose stock is rising and falling in Miami:


1. Dallas Thomas, guard: Thomas earned his way into the starting lineup with a strong spring and summer in Dolphins camp. But he erased many of those good vibes with an awful outing Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thomas was manhandled by Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in Miami’s 20-14 win. Thomas allowed a sack, a tackle for loss, another hit on the quarterback and had a false start. Thomas has yet to start a regular season game and now has major questions if he’s ready to handle the grind of a 16-game season. Veteran free-agent guard Shelley Smith worked with the first team this week in place of Thomas, who will try to earn his way back with the starters.

2. Running game: Two weeks into the preseason, it’s still unknown if Miami has improved its 26th-ranked running game from a year ago under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. The Dolphins are getting little push up front and running backs are being hit early near the line of scrimmage. Miami starting running back Lamar Miller finished with 3 yards on three carries against Tampa Bay. The Dolphins as a team had minus-5 rushing yards at intermission when starters and key reserves were in the game. Miami’s passing game is having success this preseason. But if opponents eventually figure out the Dolphins can’t run effectively, that will make Miami very predictable and easier to stop on offense.

3. Secondary’s tackling: Miami’s secondary, in general, is not a concern. However, the poor display of tackling raised some eyebrows and particularly caught the attention of Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. Starting safeties Jimmy Wilson and Louis Delmas both displayed poor tackling on Saturday. Some of it was due to poor fundamentals and some due to overaggressiveness. Delmas said after the game that Miami’s defense will have a chip on its shoulder. This group must shake the tackling rust before the regular season.


1. Matt Moore, backup quarterback: Give Moore a lot of credit. Last week, the Dolphins shook things up by adding competition (Brady Quinn) for the No. 2 quarterback job. Moore, who suffered from a shoulder injury most of training camp, didn’t seem all that thrilled by the addition. But Moore responded like a true professional by going out and having a strong preseason game against Tampa Bay. Moore led a pair of scoring drives and was 13-of-19 passing for 158 yards with one touchdown. Moore virtually solidified the No. 2 quarterback job behind starter Ryan Tannehill with one preseason outing.

2. Receiver depth: Something has to give at receiver for Miami. The depth has this position has shown up constantly during training camp, and we also saw it in the Dolphins’ second preseason game. Backup receivers Brandon Gibson, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, Damian Williams and Armon Binns combined for 11 receptions Saturday night. Not everyone in this group will make the team. The Dolphins might want to consider trading one of these backup receivers in order to gain depth at a weaker position. Wide receiver should not be an issue for Miami this season.

3. Terrence Fede, defensive end: Fede makes this list for the second week in a row. He continues to flash to the point where I believe the rookie seventh-round pick will make Miami’s 53-man roster. Fede recorded two tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss against the Buccaneers. He also is showing his worth on special teams as an athletic big man who can run the field. The motor and athleticism are there. If Fede can get his technique down, he could develop into a contributor.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Tuesday from around the Web: Morning take: Matthews said he was motivated -- not discouraged -- by the Jarvis Landry pick. Matthews has made a strong push and will make the team.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes issues remain on the Dolphins' offensive line.
Morning take: The Dolphins made another switch at guard to put Shelley Smith on the first team ahead of Dallas Thomas. Miami still doesn’t have a starting five just weeks before the season.
Morning take: The Dolphins can’t be worse than last season. If Miami allows 10-15 fewer sacks this season, that’s good progress.
  • Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post writes it’s time for the Dolphins offense to show some life.
Morning take: Miami’s offense started fast with a touchdown drive, but that has been the biggest flash so far. The Dolphins’ first team will get a lot of reps in the third preseason game.
The Miami Dolphins completed their 2014 training camp on Thursday. The feeling of getting through the grind of hot, physical practices never gets old for players, whether they're a rookie or a 10-year veteran.’s Dolphins page attended all 15 training camp practices for Miami this summer. Here are five things we learned about the Dolphins:

1. Bill Lazor is a good addition

Analysis: I really like Lazor’s approach on offense. It is refreshing to see the route combinations, fast tempo, quick decisions and pre-snap motions all put in to confuse a defense. A lot of what Miami’s offense is doing just makes sense. That hasn’t always been the case in the past two years under former Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. It remains to be seen if Miami’s personnel can handle all the things Lazor aims to accomplish. Lazor is pushing his players -- and particularly quarterback Ryan Tannehill -- hard in training camp. At some point, Lazor will have to scale back once he figures out the mental and physical capacity of his players. But after seeing this offense up close almost on a daily basis, the concepts are solid.

[+] EnlargeMiami's Bill Lazor
AP Photo/Alan DiazBill Lazor has been pushing Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense hard.
2. Linebacker experiment doesn’t look promising

Analysis: The Dolphins’ defense was 24th against the run last season. Much of the blame went towards the linebackers, which couldn’t stop the run and also struggled against play-action passes defending tight ends and slot receivers over the middle. With the Dolphins tied into high-priced, multi-year contracts, they were stuck with the trio of Philip Wheeler, Koa Misi and Dannell Ellerbe as their 2014 starters. The only solution was to rearrange the positions. Miami’s coaches moved Misi to middle linebacker and Ellerbe to outside linebacker in hopes of getting better play from both linebackers. This experiment hasn’t looked good. The tackling remains suspect and neither linebacker is great in coverage. The Dolphins are hoping another year in the system will result in significant improvement from this trio. There are still three preseason games remaining. But I didn’t see tangible evidence of improvement in training camp.

3. Jimmy Wilson is ready to start

Analysis: The Dolphins received bad news with the four-game suspension of starting safety Reshad Jones for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. But Miami groomed backup safety Jimmy Wilson three years for this moment. Wilson, a former seventh-round pick, has been solid from Day 1 this offseason. He has consistently made plays as the backup safety and nickel cornerback. This week that continued when Wilson was promoted to a starter in training camp. It does not appear the drop off from Jones to Wilson will be large. It will be up to Wilson to take advantage of the opportunity. So far that has been the case.

4. The Dolphins have too many receivers

Analysis: If I’m an opposing team with a need at wide receiver, I would closely watch Miami’s upcoming roster cuts. Multiple receivers have flashed in training camp, and the team could be six or seven deep at the position. I anticipate the Dolphins will cut a receiver (or two) who can make a 53-man roster elsewhere. A player such as Armon Binns, for example, could very well become expendable in Miami but a productive backup elsewhere. In addition, the Dolphins could have solid receivers who don’t see the field. Rishard Matthews and/or Damian Williams could be the final two receivers on Miami’s 53-man roster but won’t get playing time without injuries. The Dolphins should consider trading one of their low-level receivers to see if they can help depth at another position that isn’t deep.

5. Dolphins have cornerback depth

Analysis: It remains to be seen whether veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan, 30, can stay healthy for 16 games. But the Dolphins must feel good about their depth with the emergence of second-year cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. The 2013 second- and third-round picks, respectively, are coming into their own this summer. Both Taylor and Davis stayed around the football and made plays in training camp. It has to provide the coaching staff comfort.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Throughout the course of a season, the Miami Dolphins are usually full of surprises – some good and some bad.

But seemingly every year there is a “sleeper” who emerges into a productive player for the Dolphins. Last year, two quality sleepers did well in wide receiver Rishard Matthews and center Sam Brenner. Both played important roles for the Dolphins by the end of the year.


Who is the Dolphins' best ''sleeper'' candidate?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,527)

So who will be this year’s biggest sleeper in Miami? Which player will come out of nowhere and play an important role for the team?

Will it be rookie defensive end Terrence Fede? The seventh-round pick has shown flashes in training camp and the preseason. The Dolphins are very deep at defensive end and it would take several injuries for Fede to see the field. Can he find a role in 2014?

What about Dolphins rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp? Miami’s fifth-round pick has shown solid athleticism and the ability to stay around the football. Linebacker is a position of need and Tripp could get a shot if he makes plays.

Could it be undrafted rookie running back Damien Williams? He’s run the ball well and shown the ability to catch out of the backfield, which is important in Bill Lazor’s offense. Williams has a solid chance to make the 53-man roster. Will Williams get a chance to carry the ball in the regular season? Finally, rookie defensive tackle Anthony Johnson made plays in camp as well.

Using our SportsNation poll, vote on Miami’s sleeper candidate for 2014. You can share your thoughts in the comments section below or send a message via Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Thursday from around the Web:
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes about position battles that are heating up with the Dolphins.
Morning take: The most interesting is at slot receiver between Brandon Gibson, Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews. All three receivers are making plays in training camp.
  • Speaking of Landry, Alain Poupart of the Dolphins team site writes that Landry also is a factor in the return game.
Morning take: Landry is showing a lot of skills. It will be difficult to keep off the field this season.
Morning take: Fede is impressing as a seventh-round pick, showing good motor and athleticism.
  • Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin took the ALS challenge and allowed his players to dump ice water on him.
Morning take: This is for a good cause and it allows Philbin to show is looser side with his players. Good stuff all around.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 7

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • It was a semi-light day at Dolphins camp. Miami has its annual team scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday. Therefore, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin gave many of his veterans a light day of work. Veterans such as defensive end Cameron Wake, cornerback Brent Grimes, left tackle Branden Albert, guard Daryn Colledge and safety Louis Delmas dressed but did not take part in team drills and most individual drills. Friday wrapped a physical week of practice where the Dolphins had three sessions in full pads.
  • Dolphins backup receiver Rishard Matthews continued his solid week with another strong practice on Friday. Matthews made a series of nice catches in team and one-on-one drills. Matthews received increased reps after Mike Wallace rested this week with a hamstring injury. Matthews is on the roster bubble this summer because the Dolphins are very deep at that position. Matthews is battling with veteran Brandon Gibson and rookie second-round pick Jarvis Landry for the slot-receiver position.
  • This was the first practice out of several where the Dolphins didn’t have issues with the snap. Since Tuesday, Miami centers Nate Garner, David Arkin and Shelley Smith all had botched snaps throughout the week. Friday’s practice was clean in that regard. Also, backup center Nate Garner returned to practice from an ankle injury. However, he did not participate in team drills.
  • More on the injury front, quarterback Matt Moore hurt his shoulder this week and will miss multiple practices. He will not play in Saturday’s scrimmage. The same goes for rookie receiver Matt Hazel (concussion) and linebacker Tariq Edwards (knee).
  • Here is the Dolphins’ weekend schedule: Miami will hold its annual scrimmage Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET at Sun Life Stadium. Then, the Dolphins will take the day off Sunday. Their first preseason game is Aug. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • After a poor practice on Wednesday, the Dolphins’ offense responded Thursday with a better session. Miami's offense was crisper with fewer drops and no apparent sacks. Quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and backup Pat Devlin both made several nice throws in the full-padded practice. Dolphins tight end Charles Clay and receiver Rishard Matthews were two who consistently made plays.
  • However, there was a recurring issue with poor snaps. On Thursday, centers Nate Garner and David Arkin combined for three bad snaps in team drills. The Dolphins have been plagued by bad snaps all camp with Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey sidelined with a hip injury. Garner, Arkin and Shelley Smith have all experienced bad snaps in the first week of camp. “In football, you can’t win with the ball on the ground,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “I’m confident we’re going to get it fixed.”
  • On the injury front, receiver Mike Wallace (hamstring), center Sam Brenner (ankle) and receiver Damian Williams (unknown) all sat out practice Thursday. Receiver Matt Hazel and defensive tackle Anthony Johnson were banged up in practice and did not finish.
  • Miami had a good session of one-on-ones between the offensive line and defensive line. The Dolphins' defensive line has mostly won in camp, but the offense showed well on Thursday. Among the one-on-one victories were left tackle Branden Albert over defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan, and first-round pick Ja'Wuan James over defensive end Terrence Fede.
  • The Dolphins will return to the practice field Friday at 8 a.m. ET for their final practice of the week. Miami will hold its annual team scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday at 9:30 am.
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.
Training camp is just around the corner for the Miami Dolphins. Later this summer there will be plenty of interesting position battles to watch throughout the roster.

This week’s Dolphins page takes a look at several key competitions. On Friday, we examine the slot receiver position.

Position battle: Slot receiver

Competitors: Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews, Jarvis Landry

Analysis: This is probably the toughest position battle to read this summer. Miami’s three-way competition in the slot between Gibson, Matthews and Landry can go either direction for various reasons. For example, health could rule out Gibson. He is coming off major knee surgery and continues to work his way back to 100 percent. Matthews has been inconsistent but a playmaker. Will new Dolphins’ offensive coordinator Bill Lazor get Matthews to be more consistent? Landry is a rookie with strong hands and good routes. But Landry also is inexperienced. All three players have strengths they can bring to the offense as well as questions. But if Gibson can get back to 100 percent quick enough, his experience and comfort level with Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill could give him an edge.

Walker's pick: Gibson
There were many criticisms of former Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland from fans in South Florida. Many point to his spotty record signing free agents, questionable trades and personality fallouts behind the scenes with two head coaches (Tony Sparano, Joe Philbin). All points are valid.

But one thing Ireland probably did not get enough credit for during his tenure in Miami was his ability to find talent in the later rounds of the NFL draft. Players such as tight end Charles Clay (sixth round), safety Reshad Jones (fifth round) and receiver Brian Hartline (fourth round) are terrific examples of hidden gems Ireland found in the later rounds and became part of the Dolphins' foundation.

With that in mind, here is a little known fact: Miami's seventh-round picks have made the 53-man roster four straight years. Linebacker Austin Spitler (2010), safety Jimmy Wilson (2011), receiver Rishard Matthews (2012) and safety Don Jones (2013) all made the team as rookies. Wilson, Matthews and Jones are still part of the team and have roles as backups or on special teams.

Can rookie defensive end Terrence Fede keep the streak alive? The rookie from Marist is the first seventh-round pick for new Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey.

Fede is raw, but he has good size and athleticism. I have been particularly impressed with how well Fede moves for a player his size. However, it is too premature to accurately gauge his chances to make Miami’s 53-man roster until the pads come on in training camp.

Going against Fede is the fact that he’s trying to make the Dolphins in arguably the deepest area of their roster. Miami already has stalwarts at defensive end, such as Pro Bowler Cameron Wake, 2013 sack leader Olivier Vernon, former No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan and valuable backup Derrick Shelby. The Dolphins are already four deep at defensive end. At the very least, Fede would be fifth on the depth chart.

Time will tell if Fede can extend Miami’s seventh-round streak to five years. The practice squad also is an option for Fede if he cannot make the 53-man roster later this summer.
DAVIE, Fla. -- In the midst of the doom and gloom surrounding Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey's hip injury that will sideline him for 3-4 months, there was some good news that came out of Dolphins minicamp.

Rookie second-round pick Jarvis Landry was a standout during the week and in the scrimmage. Landry was a high-profile draft pick of new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey, along with first-round pick and projected starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James.

Landry's college scouting report is accurate: He is not the biggest, fastest or most athletic receiver the Dolphins have. But he finds a way to perform in game situations with smarts, strong hands and other intangibles, which are all needed in Bill Lazor's new, up-tempo offense.

"I'll tell you what, you've got to be in shape for sure," Landry said of Miami's scheme. "I think we do a great job with conditioning. But there is never enough conditioning as far as when the game and emotions start getting involved. That can propel you forward. It’s one of those things that we just have to keep working at to be an efficient offense."

Landry also caught the attention of veterans during offseason workouts. No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace spent some time during organized team activities and minicamp getting reps with Landry.

“[He’s] nice. Jarvis, he can hang in the game,” Wallace said of the rookie. “He plays like a three, four-year vet already. He’s really smart, crafty. He’s a really good receiver. He’s going to be good for us.”

The three-way battle at slot receiver is still up for grabs. Landry is competing with veterans Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews for an important role in the offense. All three receivers made plays this offseason, and nothing has been determined at this stage.

Miami's slot receiver will be determined throughout training camp and during the preseason. Landry knows he has the most ground to make up since he's entering his first season. But he plans the make the most of "vacation season" in the NFL before training camps start in late July.

“It’s holding yourself accountable and knowing the things that you have to do that are required of you to play at a high level,” Landry said. “It’s not taking a month off and then coming back and expecting to be ready. It’s constant improvement and continuing to learn. But for me, I’ll be here with [quarterback] Ryan [Tannehill], trying to get things going.”
DAVIE, Fla. -- Ryan Tannehill was tested during his first two years with the Miami Dolphins. In 2012, he was a rookie starter surrounded by veterans. Last year, Tannehill gained some comfort but still wasn’t a vocal leader the Dolphins desperately needed it.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeMiami QB Ryan Tannehill doesn't hold back when criticizing a teammate during Tuesday's minicamp.
However, times appear to be changing for Tannehill in Year 3. In what is essentially a make-or-break year for Tannehill, who is 15-17 as a starter, he is already showing the kind of fiery leadership the Dolphins lacked from past quarterbacks.

Tannehill got into the face of two receivers and yelled at them for missed assignments Tuesday during the opening of mandatory minicamp. It was uncharacteristic to see the mild-mannered Tannehill chewing out teammates in public. But it could be another step in the right direction for Tannehill's overall development.

“I think now I’m more apt to step up and say something, make a statement,” Tannehill explained after practice. “That’s part of playing the QB position. Now I feel more comfortable. I have the respect of my teammates around me and I can do that.”

Tannehill’s increased vocal leadership didn’t go unnoticed with Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin.

“It’s just one of those things in a competitive situation, and Ryan is a competitive guy,” Philbin said. “He wants to make sure everyone is on the same page. I think he’s done a really good job.”

Both of Tannehill’s run-ins were due to receiver mistakes. First, slot receiver Rishard Matthews cut off his route early and appeared to give up on a broken play. That caused a would-be quarterback sack on Tannehill. After the play, Tannehill ran up to Matthews and screamed at the receiver to play through the whistle.

The second example came late in practice when Tannehill and the offense already had a frustrating day. Rookie receiver Gerald Ford didn’t know his assignment, which upset Tannehill and caused a verbal tongue-lashing.

“I’m a rookie, so I kind of expected it,” Ford said of getting yelled at by Tannehill for the mistake.

So what did the rookie receiver say to his starting quarterback afterwards?

“I’m sorry leader,” Ford said, sparking laughter from the media. “It won’t happen again.”

Whether Tannehill’s increased leadership translates well on the field remains to be seen. The Dolphins' offense as a whole struggled Tuesday. There were three interceptions (one by Tannehill and two by Matt Moore), four would-be sacks allowed, a few drops and overall sloppy play.

Miami is implementing a new offense under first-year assistant coach Bill Lazor and continues to experience growing pains. Right now, Miami’s defense remains well ahead of its offense.

“Today wasn’t our best day,” Tannehill admitted Tuesday. “We’ve had much better days as an offense all around -- getting line up, playing fast, throwing the ball, protecting. We just didn’t have our best day today. That’s what this time is for.”
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Friday from around the Web:
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel writes Dolphins slot receiver Brandon Gibson will not rush back from knee surgery.
Morning take: Gibson told me in the spring that he expects to be ready by Week 1 of the regular season. Meanwhile, other players such as Rishard Matthews and rookie Jarvis Landry are competing for the No. 3 receiver job.
  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald writes Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill wants to become a leader.
Morning take: The Dolphins proved last year that the team lacked leadership. Tannehill must help fill that void by default as Miami's starting quarterback.
  • Alain Poupart of the Dolphins team site writes about the growth of defensive back Jimmy Wilson.
Morning take: Wilson has worked his way to become a valuable member of Miami’s secondary. He’s overcome personal tribulations and earned playing time with his versatility.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post provided his take on Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.
Morning take: Marino is a hot topic in South Florida. Most people agree he should have a role with the team. But no one knows what role would best fit Marino.
The Miami Dolphins have a few good position battles this summer. But one that I’m keeping a particularly close eye on is the No. 3 receiver job between Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and rookie Jarvis Landry.

All three have a legitimate chance to win the position. But who is the current favorite?

Let’s examine.

1. Gibson

2013 stats: 30 receptions, 326 yards, three TDs

Why he can win it: Gibson is easily the most polished receiver in this group. He has the most experience, runs the best routes and has earned the trust of Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, which is important. Tannehill is entering a big third year while learning a new offense. He needs receivers he can trust will be in the right spots. Gibson became a quick study on playing the slot last season. He was getting better and better until getting injured.

Why he can lose it: Gibson is coming off a season-ending knee injury in 2013. He’s progressing well, but Matthews and Landry are getting all the team reps so far in organized team activities. New Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is implementing a new offense and could get attached to his healthy receivers. Gibson cannot win the job from the sideline.

Probability: 40 percent

2. Matthews

2013 stats: 41 receptions, 448 yards, two TDs

Why he can win it: Matthews took over for the injured Gibson last season and never looked back. He stepped right in, was fearless and finished fourth on the team in receptions. Matthews is the most physically imposing of the three receivers. He’s strong and able to break through tackles. Matthews is healthy and has playing experience, which is a combination neither Gibson nor Landry can boast.

Why he can lose it: Sometimes Matthews had lapses in concentration last season, which comes with the territory for young receivers. He is not a speedy receiver and his routes can use some polish. His lowly draft status as a former seventh-round pick also doesn’t help.

Probability: 35 percent

3. Landry

2013 stats: N/A

Why he can win it: The Dolphins didn’t draft Landry in the second round to sit idly. Clearly, first-year general manager Dennis Hickey believes Landry is NFL ready and can contribute immediately. Landry’s draft status carries weight. Gibson is injured and not participating in team drills and Matthews is a former seventh-round pick. Landry also probably has the best hands of the three players, despite his rookie status.

Why he can lose it: Landry starts the offseason third on the slot depth chart. That means he has the longest way to go between now and Week 1. As we learned last year, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is not keen on playing too many rookies. Miami’s entire 2013 class provided little production last season, partially because injuries forced them to fall behind. First-year players have to earn Philbin’s trust. Gibson and Matthews already have equity with Miami’s coaching staff with their production last season. Landry is the future at this position, but I’m not sure if he’s the present.

Probability: 25 percent
DAVIE, Fla. – On the first day of rookie minicamp, new Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry worked on routes needed as a slot receiver, an outside receiver, played gunner on special teams and even discussed the possibility of returning kicks. It could be that kind of rookie year for Miami’s second-round pick.

[+] EnlargeJarvis Landry
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeReceiver Jarvis Landry could see immediate playing time as a rookie because of his versatility.
The Dolphins ignored bigger needs earlier this month and drafted Landry because he’s a versatile and hard-nosed football player. He’s a wide receiver with the toughness of a hard-hitting safety. In fact, Landry was among LSU’s leaders in special-teams tackles during the early part of his collegiate career. That helped him earn the status of team captain last season.

But finding a role in Miami as a rookie will be one of the challenges for Landry and the Dolphins' coaching staff. The team already is deep at receiver with veteran starters Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, in addition to quality backups Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams. Landry could be as high as third on Miami’s depth chart by the end of training camp or as far back as fifth or sixth.

Rookie minicamp and organized team activities are valuable for Landry to begin finding his niche.

“It’s been a little bit of everything, just trying to learn the system as much as I can and trying not to be so one-dimensional,” Landry said Friday after his first practice. “[Coaches] have been putting us in different positions, making us learn every position on the field. It increases our chances of having success no matter where we line up.”

Special teams is a sure-fire way for Landry to get playing time in his rookie year. Landry was a strong gunner at LSU and also sure-handed enough to return kicks, despite the fact he doesn't have blazing speed.

If Landry or another rookie (Matt Hazel?) proves they can return kicks, it could put specialist Marcus Thigpen on the hot seat. The Dolphins like players with position flexibility and Thigpen hasn't provided much as a backup running back or wide receiver.

“There are a lot of guys that have those [return] skills, and that’s what we’re out here doing, just kind of further investigating,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said. “It’s one thing to do it at the college level. It’s another thing to do it at the NFL level. That’s what our coaches are working with these guys.”

Learning multiple positions as a rookie is not easy. It is difficult enough making the physical transition from college to the pros. However, Landry must be on top of the playbook at multiple positions mentally, as well.

“It’s very challenging, but the coaches, they give tasks and they expect them to be met,” Landry said. “It’s my job to study the way that I need to be on the field and have an effective offense.”