When I talk about a dark horse player, I'm referring to a guy that has floated around the team without having done much, but then has a breakout year. This year there are a few candidates to make the ascent. Lets take a quick look at three players most likely to become the dark horse of 2013.
Dion Sims, Tight End
After losing Anthony Fasano over the offseason, the Miami Dolphins needed a blocking tight end, and got one by drafting Dion Sims in the fourth round. Sims will likely compete with Dustin Keller, Michael Egnew and Kyle Miller for a starting position in this offense. However if you expect Sims to merely become a role-player in this offense, think again. According to former Miami Dolphins receiver O.J. McDuffie, Sims was involved in 95 percent of the offense during minicamp. He showed that he can not only block, but also run crisp routes and catch the ball. What also was evident was the fact that he's lost some weight since his Michigan days. This is a player that has the work ethic and talent to succeed. Don't discount him from becoming a feature in this offense for years to come.
Lamar Miller, Running Back
Last year, Miller played second-fiddle to Reggie Bush. He was used sparingly in the offense. Word this year from the Dolphins camp is that Lamar Miller is ready to step up to become the team's feature back. One of the biggest reasons for this has been his ability to improve his pass blocking over the past season. Add this to his size and speed, and we have a player on our hands. Lets just hope he stays injury-free.
Olivier Vernon, Defensive End
Much of the attention has focused on first round pick Dion Jordan this past offseason. However don't discount Olivier Vernon from having a breakout year. In his rookie year, Vernon made 3.5 sacks and 25 solo tackles. Not bad from a former third round pick. But perhaps more importantly for Olivier Vernon's prospects of seeing game time is his versatility. He's comfortable putting his hand on the ground, or standing up in a two-point stance. Likewise, he's good at rushing the quarterback and displaying the awareness and athleticism of a full-time linebacker in coverage. Vernon is a player that the team can move around in order to exploit the weaknesses of the opposition. That could lead him to having a bigger than expected impact next season.
Michael Egnew, Tight End: The young tight end has something to prove following an indifferent rookie campaign. Can he show the coaches that he's finally learned the playbook and challenge the other tight ends to a starting spot?
Rishard Matthews, Wide Receiver: Matthews saw decent playing team last season considering he was a seventh round pick. Will he be able to put pressure on the other wide receivers for playing time?
Richard Marshall, Cornerback: Marshall spent most of last season on the sidelines following a back injury. Can he show why the team spent money on him last free agency?
Chris Clemons, Safety: If you could describe Clemons in one word it would be this: steady. Clemons has shown a lot of promise, but can he finally put it together and become the player that we all want him to be?
Do you agree? Are there any other players that should be candidates for dark horse player of the season? Lets hear your thoughts.
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