We are 11 days away from the first day of training camp, and although I keep saying to live your life and soak up all the summer you can, I know that we’re on borrowed time. Like Galactus, football is getting closer by the day to consume our lives. And like the eater of worlds, football will succeed in doing just that.
So, my training camp preview of all the units of the Miami Dolphins goes forward as well. Today, we cover the backs. I wanted to use the term running backs, but I can’t do that because Miami is one of the teams out there that still have a grip on a time where men were men and carry a recently drafted fullback. In total, the Dolphins have seven backs that will be at training camp.
Like the QBs, which you can read about here, the Dolphins don’t have an absolute clear starter heading into the season. Sure, the easy assumption is that Kenyan Drake, a guy that we all finally want to see get more touches to see what he can truly do, will be the lead back against Baltimore. But stranger things have happened and would it surprise anyone, truly, if Kalen, the Bellagio(yes last year I claimed that I was the first person to call him that in print so I’m going with it as if it’s my own) Ballage was in the backfield on the opening play? It shouldn’t because it’s the Dolphins and just when you think you have all the answers, the Dolphins change the questions. Flores and company didn’t draft Drake or Ballage, so it’s hard telling if they like any of them and will just hold on to them for a year until they get their own guy, or think long term with either of them. Would it shock anyone if this was Drake’s last year in Miami? It shouldn’t regardless if he puts up a good year. I can see Drake putting up a good year, ask for a big contract and Miami showing him the door. I hope not, but very possible.
Kenyan Drake – This is the guy that I strongly feel will be the opening day starter. Not saying that Ballage can’t look fabulous during training camp, he probably will, but Drake will as well and has talent that jumps off the page. We’re just not sure if he has 16 game type talent. I think Drake will get every opportunity to prove he’s a top back. We know what Drake can do when he has the ball in his hand. We know he has the type of talent that can score anytime he has the ball. What we don’t know is if he can run it 18 times a game and catch 4-5 balls. Last year, Drake averaged 4.5 yards a carry on only 120 carries, and we all lost our minds. That was Gase trying to show everyone that Drake isn’t an every down player and that Gore was the way to go. Gore was very solid last year, no doubt about it. But when you have a guy, in Drake, who are performing so well in limited opportunities and you still can’t figure out ways to get him more touches, well it shows you can’t or refuse to adjust. With Flores and Chad O’Shea bringing the Patriot way to South Beach, you’d like to think that they will make Drake the workhorse back because they have to be smarter. But, we all know the Patriot way in regards to running backs is to go through about 35 backs a season. So, you could say that Drake might be in the same position as last year. The league isn’t really about having one guy soak up all the carries, so I’d expect Drake to have a slight uptick in carries while also being a bigger threat out of the backfield. Something like at least 15 touches a game would be great to see.
Kalen, the Bellagio, Ballage- Here’s what I can tell you about Kalen Ballage.
This was his signature play, and it was a wonderful play in that. Sadly like Drake, we didn’t see a ton out of the 4th rounder. Ballage had 36 carries and nine grabs on the season. Nothing really to write home about, but we all saw the potential in him. Potential, like hope, is a dangerous thing and can drive a man insane. But you can’t tell me that when you see the Bellagio moving with those long strides that make him go so fast at his size that we all don’t see visions of a guy who’s running all over the league. I’d like to say that Ballage will be Drake’s counterpart, but I really can see a world, especially later in the year, where he is the outright number one guy. At the very least, he’ll be the number two and will get a great deal amount of work early in the year. I’m very excited to see what he can do, and I know you are as well.
Myles Gaskin- Gaskin is the first RB drafted by this regime and selected him in the 7th round. I must say that for 7th round picks, Gaskin has a real chance to contribute as early as this year. The reason why is because of that dang nabbit Patriot Way. We’ve seen weird-o after weird-o get playing time and succeed in New England without any love for their more established running backs or your fantasy team. So, Gaskin eventually getting meaningful time wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Wouldn’t it be nice, if for once, the Dolphins got a late round guy that panned out hugely, and yeah I know that Cam Wake fell into our laps. The answer is that it would be very nice if that happened. Also, chew on this.
Gaskin puts the ball in the endzone, which is an important thing to do in football. I firmly believe he makes the team and we seem around the level we saw Ballage last year, with a chance for more. Watch this and feel even better about him.
Mark Walton and Kenneth Farrow – You’d like to say that Mark Walton’s troubles were because he was playing for the Bengals and getting arrested is just something that’s expected out of their players. But getting arrested three times in three months, which I’d like to think of like a bowling version of a criminal turkey, seems like way too much for a guy who hasn’t done anything in the league to overcome. Maybe he’s found the light and is flying straight. I hope he is. It doesn’t mean I think he will be helping this team this year. Best case for him, even with the Patriot Way in Miami, is that he proves himself on the practice squad.
Farrow, as I’m sure you remember, was last seen totting the rock for the San Antonio Commanders of the once glorious Awesome As F**k league or AAF football league that sort, kind of fell out of existence after only two months. What I can say is that the Patriots had Farrow on their roster for a few stints during last season so maybe O’Shea sees something in him.
Chandler Cox – Okay, let’s talk about the guy that you’ve been patiently waiting for. I legitimately can’t wait to see this guy in action mainly because I’ve seen what the Patriots have done over time with full backs/H-backs. I’ve seen them put these kinds of guys in great positions that make defenses look real silly in a time where the league has pretty much shut the door on guys like this. Well thankfully, Chandler Cox is one of the guys reaching up and stopping that door from fully closing on the position. I’m glad we have him because I think the guy can play and with the right brain at the switches can make plays. Here’s hoping we see a lot of Cox out there this year.
Overall, it’s a young backfield that has that dangerous word potential strewn all over it. There’s speed, power, and loads of play making ability — all that cliche stuff. But I really do believe they can be a dependable unit that could be rode all year long.
By The Way – I know I mentioned the Patriot Way, and that might trouble some people because we’re supposed to act like they haven’t accomplished anything. To you folks out there I say grow up and smell the coffee.