The Miami Dolphins concluded their offseason workout program yesterday with the final day of the team's veteran minicamp. The team conducted an Aqua versus White scrimmage during the practice, letting the team play a non-contact, no-pad "game." While the "spring game" was the focus of the day, it is the curious disappearance of Knowshon Moreno that may be the longer talking point from the day.
The Dolphins signed Moreno this offseason to battle with incumbent starting running back Lamar Miller for the top spot on the depth chart. Moreno, who was coming off a season in which he gained over 1,500 yards from scrimmage, was immediately seen as an upgrade to the Miami rushing attack, and would provide a veteran presence to a young running back group.
As the offseason program comes to an end for the Dolphins, so could Moreno's chances, not just of starting, but perhaps even of making the roster.
Miller and Daniel Thomas have been taking the majority of the first- and second-team repetitions throughout the Organized Team Activities and minicamp. Moreno has spent much of that time working off on the side of the field, or taking snaps with the third- or even fourth-team. There have not been a lot of positive signs around Moreno.
Moreno's shape has been a point of discussion this offseason, with reporters describing him early in the preseason workouts as "pudgy." Head coach Joe Philbin has mentioned Moreno's fitness during the past few weeks, and Moreno himself has admitted he was not quite ready for the South Florida humidity.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly suggests it may actually be a medical situation that has Moreno on the sidelines. According to a story he released yesterday, Kelly has a source confirm to him Moreno "has been battling a medical issue." What that issues is, and whether it is an injury, illness, or something else, was not clear, and Kelly's source would not provide any specifics.
Whatever the situation, Moreno is clearly falling behind Miller, and possibly Thomas, on the depth chart. The Dolphins could wind up cutting Moreno, who signed a one-year, $3-million contract this offseason. The Dolphins would gain $1.75 million in salary cap space if they released Moreno.
We are still in June, with training camp not starting until late July. Moreno could come into camp next month in great shape, with no medical issues, and start impressing when the team starts working in pads. At this point, however, Moreno's role with the Dolphins has to be in question. Could he be disappearing from the team's 2014 plans, much like he has been disappearing from practice?