The Miami Dolphins should have one of the most dominant defensive lines in the league this year, a line that will feature defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon alongside defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh, Earl Mitchell, C.J. Mosley, Anthony Johnson, and A.J. Francis. It could be that one of those defensive tackles makes an impact on offense as well, though.
During Sunday's training camp practice, the Dolphins lined up with Mitchell on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage. Instead of plugging a hole in the middle of the offensive line, Mitchell lined up at fullback, ready to bust through the defensive line he normally calls home. On both plays, Mitchell, who played fullback for two years in college, caught passes in the flat and turned up field to pick up extra yards. That's a 6-foot-3, 310 pound defensive tackle who ran a 4.7 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2010. He may be 15 pounds heavier now, and probably has lost a step, but he is not going to be an easy tackle for any defender.
Head coach Joe Philbin tried to play off the move, describing it as, "A little levity and we’ll see if it’s utilized in a personnel level, but again, it’s Sunday in training camp and we’ve got nine days between and every once in a while we’ll throw a pass to a defensive player. They get excited about it."
According to the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley, however, this "Sunday in training camp" was not the only time Mitchell has been on the offensive side of line of scrimmage. "But this is no stunt," he wrote Sunday. "The Dolphins have given Mitchell offensive reps since the spring, but only when practices were closed to the public and media. They had surely hoped to keep the plan a secret. But by unleashing Mitchell on Sunday, the secret’s out."
Could Miami look to Mitchell to provide a spark at some point this year? He could be a matchup nightmare, and he provides quarterback Ryan Tannehill with - let us say - a big target in the redzone. It is at least a twist that the team could use at some point, and one other teams now know they have to be prepared to defend.