From now until training camp kicks off, I'll have little previews like this one below as a way to get those "football juices" flowing and (hopefully) get some discussion going on around here.
Today we'll discuss which 5 players (well, not exactly 5) have the most to gain by having a great training camp/preseason. Of course there will be others not listed that have a lot to gain as well. And that's why I think these little "primers" will be a good way to spark some debate. So let's get to it.
John Beck / Josh McCown / Chad Henne
This is obviously going to be the key battle to watch in camp and will likely be the most scrutinized battle as well. All three of these players have everything to gain by having great camps. John Beck is the 2nd year player who was drafted by a previous regime and was part of the worst season in franchise history. Josh McCown was the chosen veteran by this regime to be the experienced QB on the roster. Chad Henne was the hand-picked 2nd round rookie QB who enters the league with high hopes.
For Beck, he's looking to prove that his performance last season was due to two things: being handled poorly by the coaching staff and having a very poor supporting cast around him. He's worked extremely hard this offseason to prove to the new regime that he's not the QB that he played like in '07. McCown comes down to Miami with 31 career starts with 3 different teams and realizes that this may very well be his last chance to prove he's a starting QB at this level. And Henne comes to Miami as a 4 year starter out of Michigan. While it may be unlikely he can win the starting job, a big-time camp/preseason performance will go a long way towards Chad seeing the field at some point in '08.
Charlie Anderson / Quentin Moses
With Jason Taylor's future in Miami in question at this point, these two players will have the opportunity to take JT's spot in the starting lineup. Anderson comes to the Dolphins this year after spending 4 years in Houston. In those 4 seasons, Anderson tallied just 78 tackles and 3 sacks. But that was in limited playing time. To close out the '07 season, Anderson started the final 5 games. In those games, he totaled 25 tackles, 2 sacks, and a pass defensed. Being recognized by this new regime in Miami has to be a confidence boost for Charlie and now he has the chance to go out and win the starting OLB job opposite Joey Porter (should JT not be in camp).
Moses was a 3rd round pick in the '07 draft by the Raiders. However, Oakland cut him on September 2. On that day, the Cardinals decided to claim him off waivers and give him a shot. But he never saw the field in Arizona and was released in mid-October. A week later, Randy Mueller decided to sign him. And he actually looked like he belonged when he got on the field in Miami, picking up 1.5 sacks in limited action. Perhaps playing from an "up" position will help him utilize those pass-rushing skills he flashed in college. A big camp from Moses could get him on the field often, especially in pass-rushing situations (should Taylor move on to a new destination).
Soliai is in the dubious position of needing a great camp to see some playing time but facing the reality of a poor camp resulting in his release. He was a 4th round pick in '07 and was thought to be the guy who would eventually supplant Keith Traylor at the nose tackle position. For a big 6'4, 350 pound player, he's actually relatively athletic. And if he can just get back to playing the way he did in college at Utah and have a big-time camp, he could easily be the player who spells Jason Ferguson at nose tackle. But if he falters, he could easily be released, making Randy Starks and undrafted free agent Anthony Toribio in position to spell Ferguson at the nose.
Goodman came over from the Lions back in 2006 and played surprisingly well, passing Travis Daniels on the depth chart and earning the starting spot opposite Will Allen. However, injuries have since limited Goodman on the field. Entering 2008, it was thought that he would likely be the team's nickelback behind starters Allen and Michael Lehan. But Lehan is now down with an injury and, though he might be ready by camp, likely won't be 100% right away. That means that Goodman will have some opportunities to impress the new coaching staff and win the starting job over Lehan. If Andre has a solid camp/preseason, then he'll be our week one starting corner, pairing up with Will Allen.
Allen has been a total bust so far through the first 2 years of his NFL career. But Allen is in the rare position where he'll get a fresh start despite his struggles as a first round pick. With a new regime in town and a new, more player-friendly defense being installed, Allen will likely enter training camp as the favorite to start at safety opposite of Yeremiah Bell. Of course, a potentially healthy Renaldo Hill will have something to say about that. But Allen, thanks to his physical talents and "upside," will have every opportunity to start right from the get-go. A solid training camp from Jason could very well mean he'll get one final chance to prove he can indeed play well at this level.
So those are the players I personally feel have the most to gain once camp opens up in late July. Let me know what you think. Do you agree? Do you disagree with any? Would you include anyone else rather than one of the players on this list?
Tell us about it in the comments below...