The Miami Dolphins are sitting at 2-0 on the season after a 24-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. While it really was a good solid team win, the individual performance from H-back Charles Clay cannot be ignored. During his press conference after practice yesterday, head coach Joe Philbin discussed Clay's role in the offense, as well as the evolution of the tight end position since Philbin entered the league.
"The guy has to almost do everything," Philbin said of the expectations of a current day NFL tight end. "Aside from probably the quarterback, he has more things on his plate from a knowledge standpoint in regard to the gameplan. He's involved in the run-blocking unit, so he's got the run blocking adjustments. He's involved in pass protection, so he has those adjustments as well. Obviously (there is) the route adjustments that may take place before the snap, after the snap. I would say from the volume of information and the adjustments that need to be made on offense, aside from the quarterback. I think you have to have a smart guy and have a guy to do a couple of different things."
"There's different strokes for different folks I guess," Philbin continued. "There's different type of guys, the 6-(foot)-6 more linear guys that aren't much in the running game and can stretch the field down the middle. There are some of those guys. I think they come in all shapes and sizes. Yeah, it's a demanding position."
Clay proved on Sunday, he can do a couple of different things. He caught five passes for 109 yards, including a 67 yard catch and run setting up the team's second touchdown. Clay was also given his first career carry, coming out of the fullback position, scoring a touchdown from one yard out.
Turning to Clay specifically, Philbin spoke about Clay's role in the offense. "I think I've said it before, the more weapons you can have on offense and the more guys who can make plays at critical times, you hope that helps your production. So far in these two ballgames is he's done a good job, and our expectations is he's going to continue to improve."
"He's got a good body type," Philbin added. "He has good movement skills. He has good hand-eye coordination. Those basic things that make up a good athlete he has some of those qualities."
Even after a career game, however, Clay isn't ready to sit back and relax. "The thing with me is that it may look like a great performance, but I'm real picky," Clay told the Miami Herald's Brian Peloza after the Colts game. "Granted the game went pretty good, but there will be things that bug me and I'll have to get better on, that's just my nature."
One of those things that will bug him is coming up 10 yards short on the 67 yard reception. "I told Ryan [Tannehill] that might be one of the tightest windows to get a ball through," Clay explained. "It was a great throw. The safety went for the ball and it opened up the field."
"I need to score next time," he added smiling. "I didn't realize how fast LaRon Landry was. But we got the win, and that's the most important thing."
Asked about his rushing touchdown, Clay replied to Peloza, "I didn't know how to react. People were asking me if I kept the ball. I don't even know what I did with the ball, but I was just excited. It was exciting to get my first carry in the NFL and my first carry in awhile. They did a great job of blocking up front and it opened up."
Clay has clearly found his role in the offense, but it's a role he has seemed to find before, only to disappear for games on end. This year, with the team having signed Dustin Keller this offseason only to see the tight end tear three ligaments in his knee in the preseason, the Dolphins cannot afford having Clay disappear. Hopefully, the 2011 sixth round pick, is ready to be an every game contributor this year, his third in the league and second working as a tight end.
If he can continue to perform, the Dolphins may actually have a weapon out of the tight end position, something that was questionable when Keller was lost.
Clay and the Dolphins will continue their 2013 campaign, looking to move to 3-0 on the season, this upcoming Sunday when they welcome the Atlanta Falcons to Sun Life Stadium.
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