The Miami Dolphins are preparing for a Sunday afternoon showdown with the Baltimore Ravens, a game that could be huge for the playoff chances for either squad. The Dolphins have been battling injuries, particularly along the offensive line, over the past few weeks, but could see some of those players, specifically left tackle Branden Albert and left guard Laremy Tunsil, return this week.
It is another player, one who was injured last week and could end up missing this week’s game, who may be a key loss for the team. Wide receiver DeVante Parker sustained an injured back in the team’s 31-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers, and, despite it being described as “nothing” by Parker last Sunday, could lead to him missing the game, and potentially opening the door to more playing time for rookie wide out Leonte Carroo.
“I don’t see there being too much, because we are pretty flexible as far as what we can do,” head coach Adam Gase said of how much the team would have to adjust if Parker was not available. “A lot of times, the things that we do are based off of what the defense does as far as our game planning goes. We’re able to move pieces around pretty easy.”
Are guys like Carroo and fellow rookies Jakeem Grant and Rashawn Scott ready for an expanded playing time? “We’ve made some big strides, especially since Kenny (Stills) and Jarvis (Landry) have been banged up the last month or so,” Gase explained. “Those guys have been able to take a lot of reps, which when you’re a young player, that’s critical, because you can look at everything on a piece of paper – you can look at everything on a board – but at the end of the day, until you really do it, that’s when you can make some strides. I think that’s what has happened with those guys.”
Gase also addressed Carroo specifically, focusing on the things the receiver has refined since being drafted by the team. “I think the thing that has been very impressive is he stays with it,” Gase stated. “He stays with the fact that early he was struggling a little bit with the volume and what he had to do and knowing multiple positions. The longer we’ve gone, the better he has got a grasp of our offense. You can see he’s a lot more comfortable right now. (The first) game was a good example where last time he went in there, he struggled a little bit as far as doing the right thing a lot of the time. Last game, he was on point. He did exactly everything right that we needed him to do.”
Miami selected Carroo in the third round this year, looking to him to provide depth behind Landry, Parker, and Stills. Now, he will be asked to do exactly that if Parker is not able to play. “That touchdown tells you everything you need to know right there as far as he was able to run that route crisp, be exactly where he was supposed to be and then catch the ball and make a play,” Gase said of if Carroo is ready for that role. “A lot of times you call that play not thinking that’s going to happen, and he did a good job finishing that one.”
The Dolphins will kickoff against the Ravens at 1pm ET Sunday, and Carroo could be in the starting lineup. It is the position he was drafted to fill, and, at least according to Gase, he is ready to fill it.