Yesterday, we took a look at the position battle at free safety for the Miami Dolphins. Chris Clemons currently sits ahead of Reshad Jones on the depth chart for the Dolphins' last line of defense. Today, we will shift to the offense and look at the tight end position.
Currently, Anthony Fasano is listed as the number one tight end, and unless the Dolphins suddenly acquire a starting tight end, Fasano is firmly entrenched in the role. It's the guys behind him that are intriguing.
Listed as the second tight end, second year player Mickey Shuler currently serves as Fasano's primary backup. Shuler appeared in five games for Miami last season, starting twice. He only caught two passes, for 44 yards, however.
The Dolphins also brought back second year man, Jeron Mastrud. The largest of the tight ends on the Dolphins roster (6'6", 253 lbs.), Mastrud started two games in 2010, appearing in six additional games. The 2010 undrafted free agent was signed by the Dolphins after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released him before the season, but has yet to catch a pass in the NFL.
Currently sitting in the 4th strong spot on the depth chart is undrafted free agent rookie Brett Brackett. Brackett, similarly sized to Mastrud, if just a little lighter, was a wide receveiver at Penn State after having been a quarterback in High School. Going into his senior year at Penn State, Brackett had just 17 receptions for 189 yards, but was named a captain for the team. In 2010, Brackett broke out, finishing the year second on the team in receptions (35), receiving yards (474) and touchdowns (5). Although listed a a wide receiver as a Nittany Lion, Brackett actually played more as a hybrid slot receiver/tight end. Brackett has made several noteworthy catches so far in training camp as he works to establish himself in Miami.
Finally, the fifth man on the depth chart is second year tight end, Dedrick Epps, spent most of last season on the Dolphins' practice squad. The undrafted free agent out of the University of Miami signed with the Dolphins after the San Diego Charger released him before the start of the 2010 season. He did get on the field late in the year, appearing in three games.
As the four men listed behind Fasano fight for the backup role, they all have to keep looking over their shoulders. Sitting on the depth chart as the number two fullback is Charles Clay. The Dolphins' 2011 sixth round draft choice is expected to become an H-back, splitting time between the fullback and tight end positions. If that does happen, the number of tight ends needed on the Dolphins could drastically get cut, resulting in several of the four backups either finding themselves on the practice squad, or given their walking papers.
With training camp finishing this week, and the Dolphins' second preseason game on Friday, the fight for the tight end positions could clarify very quickly. But until then, Shuler, Mastrud, Brackett, Epps, and even Clay will continue to work to establish their roles on the team - and to beat out the others to one of the very few roster slots the tight end position will have.