No Miami Dolphins player raises more questions, both from fans and from the media, than rookie tight end Michael Egnew. Drafted in the third round last April, Egnew was expected to give the Dolphins a seam threat, using his athletic ability to add a dynamic weapon to the Miami offense. However, Egnew fell behind early in preseason, never developing as the team had hoped, and he has spent every game this season on the inactive list.
But, is it time for that to change?
Let's face it, the Dolphins are a long shot to make the playoffs. They trail the Pittsburgh Steelers by two games for the final Wild Card spot, with four games to play. Could they make the run? Of course. But it's going to take a lot of help from other teams if they are going to successfully make it to the post season.
Instead, it may be time for the Dolphins to begin thinking about the development of the team for next year. By no means am I saying that the team give up on the year, nor am I saying they should not try to win every game remaining on the schedule. But, they could use the remaining games to get some younger guys NFL experience, while continuing to try to win.
The first of those players should probably be Egnew. The rookie looked like the speed of the game surprised him in the preseason. His head was swimming and he never overcame it. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, after being tough on him during the team's appearance on Hard Knocks this preseason, has been more effusive in his praise for Egnew lately.
Sherman is asked during nearly every press conference about Egnew. He has explained that, as he tried to get used to the NFL game, Egnew fell behind the other tight ends, and has been trying to play catch up all year. Sherman has added that Egnew is developing, but still the rookie has been inactive every week.
Is it time to change that? Should the Dolphins get Egnew into live action, if only to let him get the experience ahead of next season? Fans are quick to call Egnew a horrible pick, even labeling him as a bust, without ever seeing what he could bring to the team. He's not a bust, he's a rookie who needed more time to develop than anyone on the Dolphins, in the media, or any of the fans, thought he would need. That happens. No one can accurately predict how a player will react to the speed of the NFL. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill should be evidence enough of that fact.
Could we see Egnew play against the San Francisco 49ers tomorrow? We may or may not. But, for the future of the Dolphins, it may be time to get the tight end into the game.