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Training Camp Positional Preview: Tight End

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Before we get into anything else, step outside your house. Go ahead...I'll wait. Go outside your house and take a deep breath. You smell that? I know I do. That's the smell of football in the air. In the words of Will Ferrell in Old School, "How glorious."

That's right. Today is the day Miami's rookies report to camp. And yes, I'm aware that Ted Ginn, John Beck, and Drew Mormino aren't signed yet. But don't worry too much. Their first practice isn't until Tuesday and the full squad doesn't report to camp until Friday, with the first full practice scheduled for Saturday. So give Miami's front office some more time to get these guys signed before we all worry and throw fits. If they aren't signed by Friday, then I'll get angry. For now, I'm just excited football is back.

Now, as we continue on with our training camp previews, it's time to take a closer look at the tight end position. This position was the center of some questioning earlier this offseason following the outright release of Randy McMichael, who wa a fairly productive TE for the Dolphins. But let's look at what we do have here in Miami.

David Martin: 6'4, 265, 7th year
Martin was signed on March 5 and was brought in here to replace McMichael as the team's starting tight end. In six seasons with Green Bay, Martin caught 87 balls for 766 yards and 9 touchdowns. However, he's only played in 16 games once in his career and he's missed 9 games over the past 2 seasons. So his health is a bit of a concern. However, in Cam Cameron's offesne, the tight end is asked to do more route running and less blocking than in most other systems, so this could help keep Martin healthy for an entire season.

What Martin brings to the table is the fact that he's smart and has good speed for a tight end. Many believe he will be able to put pressure on the opposition's linebackers and safeties by working the middle of the field underneath and by also using his deceiving speed to stretch the field down the seam. In fact, SI.com placed him as one of 10 players who are likely to break out this season. Hopefully, they are right.

During camp, it'll be interesting to watch how Cameron uses Martin in his offense and how Martin develops as a receiver, as he has had issues with dropping a few passes. Needless to say, his success will go a long way to judging the offseason that Cam and Randy have put together.

Jason Rader: 6'4, 260, 2nd year
Rader is a guy who has been in the Dolphins organization for about 2 years now, mostly on the practice squad. In the preseason of 2005, he did catch 4 passes for 25 yards and 2 touchdowns. That's basically the extent of his NFL experience.

Rader is more of a blocking TE than a pass catching one. This actually may benefit him as Martin will be the primary pass catching tight end. If nothing else, Rader refuses to give up on his NFL dream and is a hard worker who will attempt to make an opening day active roster for the first time in his young career.

Justin Peelle: 6'4, 255, 6th year
Peele is in his 2nd year of a 3 year deal with Miami after coming over from San Diego. Cam is familiar with Peele which also means that Peelle is familiar with Cam's offense. In San Diego, Peelle was primarily used as a blocking tight end. He has just 56 career receptions despite have reliable hands. His lack of speed is what reduces his role in the passing game.

However, like I said, Peelle is a solid blocking tight end, meaning he could see considerable playing time in short yardage situations. In camp, look to see how Peelle is being utilized. That will be the best way to see how Cam will use Peelle now that they are back together.

Tim Massaquoi: 6'3, 255, 2nd year
Massaquoi was a 7th round pick by Tampa Bay in 2006. In preseason, he caught 9 passes for 59 yards and 1 touchdown. He was then cut and the Dolphins nabbed him. He saw action in a reserve role in 8 games for Miami last season but didn't register any stats.

Massaquoi is an intriguing prospect. Coming out of college, he was noted for having solid hands and a good leaper for his size. His blocking, however, is a question mark. What his fate is going to come down to is how much of an upside Cameron and tight ends coach Mike Mularkey (man, it pains me to type his name) think he has.

Aaron Halterman: 6'5, 255, 1st year
Halterman is rather inexperienced and spent the final 2 regular season games and all of the playoffs on the Colts' practice squad. What he brings to the table is his good size. He'd provide a good goal line target for Trent Green. He also has some experience as a long snapper, which could give him a leg up as a 3rd TE.

My Take It seems like the top 2 TE spots are pretty clear cut. The battle comes down to who the 3rd tight end will be, if Miami chooses to keep one at all. Halterman seems like a logical fit, as he would fill the need of long-snapper. But that position has been filled by John Denney for the past 2 seasons. Denney remains on the roster and he also provides the Dolphins with a quality special teams player in coverage as well. So I think Halterman remaining with the club is unlikely. So that leaves Massaquoi and Rader and it will be interesting to see which one the Dolphins keep, if any at all.

Predicted Depth Chart

1st Team 2nd Team
David Martin Justin Peelle