Defense? Check! Offense? Check! Now it’s time to take a look at our special teams unit. Returning for his 15th NFL season is long snapper John Denney. As any good Dolphins fan knows, this guy isn’t just hiking the ball, this guy hustles downfield on every punt and makes his shares of tackles too. The Dolphins as per usghe brought in “competition” for Denney, or more like insurance in the form of one LS Lucas Gravelle out of TCU. Gravelle was a 2018 UDFA.
Matt Haack will return as the punter, and just so Stanger knows, Haack will be wearing #2 this season, showing no respect to future ring of honor punter Brandon Fields. Or maybe he wears it out of respect and love for Fields, not sure. In the 7th RD, Miami most likely landed their starting place kicker in Jason Sanders out of New Mexico. Sanders has a very strong leg, and his kickoffs are always deep. His longest college FG was a 53 yarder, but in practice, he’s hit FG’s beyond 60 and close to 70. The Dolphins also brought in UDFA K Greg Joseph from FAU to provide some competition for Sanders. There are however also always a few veteran kickers waiting for a team to lose a K to injury, or just an outright cut due to poor performance. Matt Haack will continue to be the holder on FG’s.
With Jarvis Landry out of the picture, Jakeem Grant will take over the primary return duties on both punts and kickoffs. With all the changes, it’s hard to know whether the new return rules will be advantageous or not for the ultra fast Grant, but it seems to indicate that it might. With the kickoff team unable to get a running start, that should give the receiving team just a little more time to get up some speed after the catch. On the other hand, the new rule is that if the ball touches the end zone on a kickoff it will be ruled as a touchback, so if the ball bounces past the goal line on a kickoff, it is dead, and declared a touchback. Kenyan Drake will join Grant as the other returner on kickoffs, and at least at the moment, Senorise Perry is behind the aforementioned 2 on the return depth chart.
As far as players who will be counted on to be special teams aces is returning veteran CB/S Walt Aikens, LB Chase Allen, LB Mike Hull, veteran LB Terence Garvin who came over from Seattle, rookie LB Quentin Poling, CB Torry McTyer and possibly rookie CB’s Cornell Armstrong and Jalen Davis. I say possible, because we don’t know yet whether they will all be on the roster come final cuts.
Last year, the Dolphins had one of their best kicking performances in a while from veteran K Cody Parkey. The Dolphins chose not to allocate money towards a K and let Parker walk, so we all have to hope that move doesn’t come back to bite us in the ass. Young Jason Sanders has a tough act to follow after the excellence of Parkey. Last year, P Matt Haack had an OK year, he wasn’t great, he wasn’t poor either. Haack averaged 44.5 yards per punt, with a 40.7 net average
The big questions on special teams are as follows. Is Jakeem Grant ready for prime time, without Jarvis Landry to lean on in big spots? Is Jason Sanders going to get the job done well enough to keep his job through the preseason? Will Jason Sanders adequately replace the excellence of Cody Parkey? Will the new kickoff rules help us or hurt us? Stay tuned Dolphins fans, OTA’s are going on as you read this, so keep your eyes on the reports to see what’s happening.
2018 HulkFest Hotels – Hollywood Beach
The Neptune – Doggy, Toba, Son and their crews
Margaritaville – Mike E and Brian in NY and their crews
The Sheldon – Piggy