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Weekend Roundup: Talking Ernest Wilford, running backs & more

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend - though it was saddened by the tragic killing of Steve McNair.

We're now less than four weeks away from the Dolphins' first training camp practice on August 2 down in Davie.  And while it's going to be a very slow few weeks, I'll do my best to keep things interesting as we near the kickoff of camp.

As for now, let's see what made news this past weekend.

As you all know, Ernest Wilford - last season's major free agent bust - has been working to make the transition from wide receiver to tight end this year.  And Wilford seems excited about the move:

"It's been interesting. Defenses don't know if they're going to play me at receiver or tight end. It will create mismatches. I've got to know what I'm doing in protections and the running game. That's the biggest transition. Anything that will help me be a value to this team, I'm willing to do. I'm very confident."

Media reports from OTAs indicate that Wilford has been successful doing just that - creating mismatches.  I can't recall right now which beat writer said it, but he said Wilford being on the field working as a tight end has confused the defense at times - either creating an opportunity for himself or for one of his teammates.

But Wilford will have to prove he can block linebackers for this to really work.  He has gained some weight - currently tipping the scales at 240 pounds.  But that's still 10 to 15 pounds lighter than Miami's other tight ends.  And if he can't be at least a marginal blocker, defenses won't have to respect the possibility that the Dolphins will run the ball when he comes in at tight end.

Wilford could also lose his roster spot simply thanks to the numbers crunch.  The Dolphins currently have four legitimate tight ends on the roster.  Anthony Fasano is a lock to start.  David Martin was a key contributor last year - but he's currently recovering from a hernia and didn't practice at all during OTAs and minicamp.  The Dolphins spent a 5th round pick on Monmouth TE John Nalbone.  And it's believed that this regime is very high on Joey Haynos - a 6'7, 266 pound young, athletic tight end with good hands.

Where does this leave Wilford?  His best chance to make the team is to probably prove he can play two roles - the team's third tight end and their sixth wide receiver.  This regime does love players who can do multiple things.  However, Wilford isn't a special teams contributor at all - which hurts his case.  And they have far more talented and promising receivers on the roster.  Perhaps if David Martin lands on the PUP list, Wilford would have a better chance.  Then he could just beat out either Haynos or Nalbone - and the Dolphins could then attempt to stash one of those two on their practice squad.

But when all is said and done, I'm not really expecting Wilford to stick around.  It's expected that David Martin will be back for training camp and I don't see the Dolphins releasing two young players with potential to keep a 30 year old converted tight end on the roster.

You'll remember that a week ago, each of the four AFC East bloggers had to rank the division's running back stables.  Obviously, I ranked the Dolphins at the top.  Of course, the other 3 blogs disagreed.  But at least I found someone who agrees with me.

FOX Sports' Adrian Hasenmayer has ranked the running back packages of all 32 teams.  He placed the Dolphins at #9 - one spot ahead of the Jets, six ahead of the Patriots, and eight ahead of the Bills.  And this is even with Hasenmayer selling Patrick Cobbs short.  He says of him, "Cobbs is listed as the current third-stringer, but he's more important as a return threat. Miami could use a better No. 3 piece, but as long as the Ronnie-Ricky combo stays healthy, the Dolphins should be set in the backfield."

I obviously disagree about Cobbs.  He doesn't get the credit he deserves, but he'd be a very capable #2 running back for a number of NFL teams.  Being behind the likes of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams means he doesn't get enough carries to show off his skills.  His versatility, however, as a runner, receiver, blocker, and return man make him a very valuable part of the Dolphins.

-The Miami Herald is reporting that the Dolphins are interested in extending the contract of Matt Roth, who is a free agent following the 2009 season.  But his agent says the two sides aren't close yet.

-AOL Fanhouse ranks "Pennington vs Henne" as the number 10 QB competition heading into training camp.  But let's get real - there isn't a QB competition in Miami right now.