The final question on depth from CBS Sports takes a look at the special teams. CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan recently asked what it means to have depth in the NFL, then developed 13 different questions about each NFL franchise, looking at key positions on the field and who would fill in if needed, in an effort to find the clubs that do have "depth." Kirwan ultimately reached the conclusion that two teams, the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks and the Cincinnati Bengals, best fit the idea of "depth" on a roster.
He also listed five teams that could be considered "honorable mention" franchises when it comes to the ever-important depth: the Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, and a "tossup" between the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. Kirwan explained the honorable mention list, writing, "they don't satisfy all the categories but they did better than most teams hitting on at least nine of the 13."
The depth questions start with an entry criteria question, one that if you answer no, you do not move on to the rest of the fields and simply do not have depth. Since the Dolphins met the entry criteria for the depth discussion by having a backup quarterback that "can go at least 2-2 in a four-game stretch" with Matt Moore, we have been breaking down the rest of the questions Kirwan poses. The thirteenth area for consideration is:
Does your team have a special-teams linebacker that leads the specials and can play inside linebacker in a pinch?
We once again find that the Dolphins' answer is yes, they cover Kirwan's criteria. In this case, the answer is Jason Trusnik. The Dolphins have held on to Trusnik over the past few seasons for this exact reason. He's a key member of the club's special teams, and he does get on the field as a linebacker if someone needs to come out of the game for any reason.
Trusnik recorded 17 tackles on defense last year, along with eight on special teams. Trusnik may not be a Pro Bowl linebacker for Miami, but he has a key role and plays it well. He's on special teams every week, and he does an adequate job of filling in when needed on defense, including in Week 7 last year, when he played 54-percent of the defensive snaps, and 73-percent of the special teams plays, behind just the four players who appeared on every one of the team's 67 defensive plays for total combined plays among the defenders (safety Chris Clemons played the most that week, appearing in all 67 defensive snaps and 13 special teams plays).
Behind Trusnik, Miami does have some other linebackers who, if needed, could come from their special teams assignments to play linebacker, including the middle linebacker position, though in these cases, Miami may move Dannell Ellerbe back to middle linebacker and place these guys on the outside. Included in this group is second year player Jelani Jenkins and fourth-year player Jonathan Freeny. Rookies Jordan Tripp, Tariq Edwards, Derrell Johnson, and Andrew Wilson could all find themselves as answers to this question as well, if they impress during training camp and the preseason.