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Here is where we start to deviate from the official awards handed out at the team banquet every year.
This honor is dubious in nature. Sometimes referred to as the "Wide Deceiver' award, this is a fan-originated prize that is handed out to the wide receiver on the team who has low standing with the team, yet seems to draw an unusual amount of fan- and media-based hype based on his performances during training camp.
As you can see, this honor was named after former 2003 fifth-round draft selection J.R. Tolver, who best exemplified the virtues of this award by capturing the attention, hopes and headlines of the Miami Dolphins faithful during training camp and then quickly falling into complete NFL obscurity.
That is not to say that this dubious honor seals the fate of Chad Bumphis. However, as an undrafted free agent who has quickly become a fan favorite to make the final roster and, perhaps, even to take snaps during games, Bumphis qualifies as drawing an unusual amount of attention to himself, despite humble beginnings.
Personally, I believe Bumphis will not only make the 2013 roster, but that he may also even end up as the team's third receiver during some games this year.
I watched Bumphis play in the extremely tough, defensive-minded SEC. He led all receivers there in touchdown catches, and there has not been a higher touchdown catch total in that conference since Stevie Johnson of the Buffalo Bills was playing at Kentucky.
What makes Chad Bumphis different, to me, from past camp heroes is the fact that he has already produced in the preseason games as well as the team's intrasquad scrimmage held the week before the Hall of Fame game.
At the scrimmage, he caught two balls for 41 yards. During the Hall of Fame game, he caught five balls for 85 yards. Despite, according to Pro Football Focus, only playing a total of 11 pass snaps in the two proceeding preseason games, Bumphis still caught two more balls for 26 yards.
He currently ranks No. 8 among all NFL wide receivers in receiving yardage for the preseason. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranks No. 1 among wide receivers in number of broken tackles after the catch and No. 3 in number of yards gained after contact.
More important than the production itself is how he earned the production. He's shown a consistent comfort with the physicality of the game.
On a fourth down against the Dallas Cowboys, he was nailed by two defenders immediately after catching the football, but he still held on and only came inches shy of converting the first down. Also in that game, he had an impressive run after catch where he broke tackles and looped around them in order to convert the first down. He produced a 45-yard catch and run during that game.
Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he caught a short three-yard pass that was equally impressive in its own way. On 3rd-and-2, he threw the ball too high necessitating that Bumphis jump in order to secure it. This gave the defender extra time to bear down on Bumphis in an attempt to tackle him shy of the sticks.
Bumphis quickly planted his feet upon landing, pivoted and lunged forward for the extra yard, breaking through contact to convert the first down. These are the kinds of small details regarding physical efforts that win games.
On one play that nearly ended in an interception to corner Micah Hyde, I felt that the quarterback should have recognized the corner's deep leverage and thrown the back-shoulder throw instead of an outside fade. The outside fade gave the corner (who had a few steps on Bumphis) every advantage in coming down with the interception.
Yet, replays show that while the ball was in the air, Bumphis used his hands subtly and doggedly to try and scrape for every inch of position he could in trying to make the interception. It was because of that fight that Hyde was not able to come down with the football with his feet in bounds.
Hopefully by this time next year, Chad Bumphis will get to look back on his Tolver Award like others who actually proved worthy of the hype, such as Davone Bess.