Miami Dolphins: Biggest Winners and Losers from Training Camp so Far

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Miami Dolphins: Biggest Winners and Losers from Training Camp so Far
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

For most players, training camp is all about securing their positions on the depth chart. But for a big chunk of those players, it's more about securing a spot on the team.

With a new coaching staff installing new offensive and defensive philosophies, this is especially true. Players who have succeeded in one system find themselves having to prove they can play in another. Inevitably, there will be players who successfully adapt and some that just don't fit.

Here are the biggest winners and losers from the first couple weeks of the Miami Dolphins' training camp.

 

Winner: Legedu Naanee

When Miami signed Naanee, most assumed he would be little more than a camp body. After all, he failed to latch on in San Diego or Carolina, and one website even rated him as the worst receiver to step on a football field in 2011.

With rock bottom expectations, Naanee has dazzled in training camp and all but secured a starting spot in Joe Philbin's offense. Wide receiver is still a weakness for the Dolphins, but if Naanee can play in games like he has in camp, Miami may be in a little better shape than originally thought.

 

Loser: Clyde Gates

The Dolphins selected Gates in the fourth round of the 2011 draft with the hopes that his world-class speed could take the top off of opposing defenses. While his straight-ahead speed hasn't disappointed, his ability to produce in an offense has.

Fernando Medina-US PRESSWIRE
Clyde Gates' blazing speed may not save his Dolphins career.

He managed only two catches for 19 yards last year, and he appears to fit even less into Joe Philbin's west coast offense. His best work last season came as a kick returner, but the Dolphins have been working other players in that position as well.

Unless he can establish himself in a useful role on the team before final cuts, Gates will likely be on the outside looking in.

 

Winner: Koa Misi

As a 2010 second-round pick, Misi seemed to have the career trajectory of a bust after two seasons. He was drafted to be a pass rusher, but that proved to be a weakness. He saw his snaps drop significantly from his rookie year to his second year, and it was feared that Misi would be no better than a backup linebacker.

It turns out that Misi was the biggest beneficiary of Miami's switch to a 4-3 defensive scheme. Pass rushing is a necessary skill for a 3-4 outside linebacker, but as a 4-3 OLB, Misi's proficient run defense and coverage skills should solidify his spot on the team.

 

Loser: Vontae Davis

Going into this season, a few Dolphins were assumed safe in their starting spots. Vontae Davis was one of that select group. There were reports that Davis was giving up first-team cornerback snaps to Richard Marshall, but it wasn't until Davis was listed on the second team on Miami's first preseason depth chart that his demotion was confirmed.

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
Vontae Davis needs to have a strong finish in camp to remain a starter.

It was revealed shortly thereafter—and highlighted in the first episode of Hard Knocks—that Davis reported to camp out of shape and didn't display the commitment that the coaches expected. While it's true that Davis is still the most talented cover on the team, he will have to recover from a poor first impression with the coaches to earn his starting spot back.

 

Winner: Derrick Shelby

Shelby was another surprise name to appear on the second team in that depth chart, but in a positive way. An undrafted rookie out of Utah, the defensive end has made a strong impression so far in camp and is pushing to make the final roster.

 

Loser: John Jerry

Joe Philbin brought over a zone blocking scheme for the Dolphins' offensive line, something that requires quick, athletic linemen. The usually hefty Jerry would have to adjust his style to the scheme—that is, if he didn't show up to camp at a whopping 360 lbs. The former third-round pick is now relegated to the third team and will need nothing short of a miracle to stick in Miami.

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