This is the last unit of the team to look at, after covering the defense and the offense, and this year, we seem to have really tried to upgrade the special teams, especially the return game. Shockingly, we’ve even brought in competition for long time long snapper John Denney. There will also be competition for the place kicker spot as well, but the real competition will be for punt returner and/or kick returner. Special teams aren’t just the specialists, such as the K, P, KR/PR, there the guys who fly down the field with abandon, and sacrifice their bodies in violent collisions either blocking the pursuit, or trying to race past and disengage blocks to make the tackle.
Let’s take a look at who we’ve brought in this season, both from the draft, and as UDFA’s.
RB Kenyan Drake will not only be in the mix at RB, but he will also provide the team with some special teams help. Drake was the gunner at Alabama, and that’s a very important cog in the special teams coverage. WR Leonte Carroo will be in the mix at WR, but also will be in competition for KR/PR with incumbent returner Jarvis Landry. Shifty, blazing fast WR Jakeem Grant also will be heavily involved in the competition for return man, with Landry and Carroo. Landry would play every down and do every return, but that’s too much of a drain, so the Dolphins are looking to give him some help, to keep him fresh during the game. I’m excited to see if these guys can upgrade our return unit, which was pretty solid already with Landry.
Punter Matt Darr has proved his mettle, and will be unchallenged for the punter spot. Last years kicker Andrew Franks, who was solid last season, especially on kickoffs, now faces another contender, rookie K Marshall Koehn. Rumor has it Diggs put in a good word for Koehn and got him the in, but I can neither verify nor dispute that. Koehn (pronounced Cane) is a very versatile athlete, who also played WR and DB, as well as playing baseball, soccer and for Stanger, lettered twice as wrestler in High School. This is no ordinary kicker! Very strong leg, and regularly placed kickoffs in the end zone, he should make the challenge fun to watch this preseason.
Besides the regular position battles, I’m definitely looking forward to see how our return game shakes out, because now, my thought is Damien Williams will step aside and let the new talent juice up our return game. They are called the “hidden yards” in a game, but as we all know, strong special teams can really help out the team, both with strong coverage on kicks and punts, and electric returns, long punts, ALL play a crucial part in the battle for field position.