5 Miami Dolphins With the Most to Earn in Training Camp: Part 2

Miami Dolphins CB Jamar Taylor - Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

As the Miami Dolphins training camp nears, I present to you five Dolphins who could propel themselves forward with a strong showing at camp.

The Miami Dolphins have released the dates of their training camp. Camp will open on July 25th at 8 AM ET and will conclude with the August 16th preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As training camp inches closer, I've decided to take a look at a few players who could earn themselves a promotion with stellar play when the pads finally come on.

This is a continuation of a previous article, which you can read here.

 

Michael Egnew

Egnew enters this training camp as the most polarizing player on the team. Egnew has the opportunity to seriously elevate his status with the Dolphins with a strong training camp. Conversely, this former third round pick could be cut outright if he doesn't perform.

Egnew has all the tools to be an effective version of today's seam threat, stretch-the-field tight end. At the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, Egnew logged the top numbers in the class of tight ends in drills that tested athleticism.

However, Egnew hasn't been able to transfer that athleticism because of two fatal flaws, an inability to "play fast" (process what's happening on the football field while moving full speed) and a lack of toughness when blocking.

Egnew, like all Missouri tight ends, was known as a good pass catcher but not a great blocker coming out of college. His lack of blocking prowess eventually kept him off of the field for nearly his entire first two years in the league.

It's likely that Egnew will now be put in a role similar to that he filled at Missouri in the Dolphins' new offense, lining up in the slot and taking advantage of mismatches.

Egnew still needs to prove that he has improved in the two areas he struggled with the most, but right now Egnew has a great opportunity to take the wide-open number two tight end spot entering this training camp.

Rishard Matthews

Some people are claiming that Matthews' roster spot is in jeopardy. These people didn't watch very many Dolphins games last season.

While he may have been a headache for the coaching staff at times, Matthews played more physically than any other Dolphin receiver last season and proved to be yet another late-round steal by former GM Jeff Ireland.

Matthews can propel himself into the starting slot position, a job which he inherited last season due to the injury of the now-healthy Brandon Gibson, with a strong showing in training camp.

Matthews is one of the Dolphins' best wide outs at running after the catch, he has tremendous hands and he has a toughness that can't be taught. Matthews, at the very least, will make this roster due to his versatility (can play every wide receiver position) and will be a very good fifth option. At best, he is the Dolphins starting slot receiver.

Tyler Larsen

Mike Pouncey's hip surgery, which will sideline him for at least the first three weeks of the NFL season, puts the team/offensive line in peril, but it couldn't put Larsen in a more favorable situation.

Larsen, instead of entering this training camp fighting to keep his football career alive, now has an opportunity to not only secure a roster spot but also become a (temporary) starter for the Dolphins.

Larsen has a lot to prove and a few players to leapfrog on the depth chart, but if he can show that he can diagnose defenses, understand protections, communicate what he sees to the rest of the of line and, most importantly, block NFL defensive tackles then he will be well on his way to earning a roster spot on this Dolphins squad which currently lacks depth at the center position.

Larsen, as well as fellow undrafted centers Evan Finkenberg and Samuel Longo, have a great opportunity to stick to an NFL roster in the wake of a devastating injury to a vital piece of the Dolphins' offensive line.

Jelani Jenkins

If you read my power ranking of each Dolphins' unit that was published last week then you know that the Dolphins' linebacking group has me a bit nervous.

For that reason, weakside linebacker Jelani Jenkins has a prime opportunity to earn himself a large chunk of snaps this training camp. Jenkins enters this camp with a year of NFL experience under his belt and a full offseason to improve upon his strength (one of his issues in 2013).

After stealing snaps from current starting weakside linebacker Philip Wheeler in 2013, Jenkins is poised to that yet again for one key reason. Jenkins may be the best coverage linebacker the Dolphins have, and this will earn him an abundance of playing time and likely a role in the nickel package.

Jamar Taylor

After an injury-marred rookie season, this 2013 second round pick enters this training camp on a high note after receiving praise from head coach Joe Philbin due to his performance in offseason workouts.

Taylor is looking up at the newly signed veteran Cortland Finnegan on the depth chart and on the practice field. Finnegan, who currently holds the starting cornerback position opposite of Brent Grimes, has been a bit of a mentor to Taylor, the man who may take his job, throughout offseason workouts.

Finnegan has had a couple of down years and is poised to regain his once-dominant form, but that's anything but a sure thing. Taylor will be ready to swoop in and swipe the position from Finnegan should his play start to slip or an injury occur.

The Dolphins coaching staff has showed a willingness in the past to start younger players over older players if the competition between the two is near even. If Taylor can come to camp and build on the momentum that he established in offseason workouts then he may be able to take Finnegan's job outright.

 

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