The Miami Dolphins are moving rookie cornerback Cordrea Tankersley into the starting lineup permanently, according to head coach Adam Gase. Tankersley was elevated into the role, playing opposite second-year corner Xavien Howard, for his NFL debut against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday.
Former starter Byron Maxwell missed the game with a pre-game injury, but had been moved to the second-string during the week.
“I thought it was good,” Gase said Monday of Tankersley’s performance. “It was what we were hoping for. I know he was excited when we told him earlier this week that he was going to be starting. The biggest thing was we were … We wanted to be careful because he hasn’t played a game in a month. We thought we had a good plan going into it and obviously it changed right before game time.”
He continued, explaining to reporters, “He’s just really what we’re looking for. We like the tall, long corners that come up and press and play physical at the line of scrimmage.”
Tankersley also met with the media Monday, first taking a look back at Sunday’s loss to the Saints. “It was a great experience,” he explained. “I wish we could’ve gotten the win; but just to get my feet wet the first game, it was a great experience.”
He was then asked when he found out he was starting this week, and how he responded. “Kind of in the middle of the week,” the rookie replied. “I just took it and ran with it. There are not too many opportunities you can get; but I just wanted to take that opportunity and run with it. Like I said, I was excited. You always want to be excited to get your first start, especially against a great quarterback like Drew Brees. I was pretty hyped.”
Tankersley also addressed the idea of he and Howard being long-term starters for the Dolphins, and what that could mean for opposing teams. “I think it could pose a lot of challenges,” he stated. “Like you said, young guys who haven’t had a lot of experience; but who bring a lot of attitude to the team. I think it definitely could help the team a lot.”
The Dolphins could have a solid pairing with Howard and Tankersley, one that could grow into something special. It appears that growth is going to start right now, as Tankersley moves up into the starting lineup. He is likely going to make some rookie mistakes the rest of the year, but the experience should only make him better in the future - and make the Dolphins defense better as well.