With Fins Thomas & Bushrod Out, Will Duarte & Smith Get Snaps?
Smith had earned high praise from the staff before his knee injury
Two of Adam Gase‘s choice Free Agent pick ups, TE Julius Thomas and G Jermon Bushrod, have been placed on the Injured Reserve, ending their season and likely their career as Dolphins.
To fill their spots, TE Thomas Duarte was called up from the practice squad, and T Eric Smith was taken off the Injured Reserve.
First, if this is the end of Thomas and Bushrod’s careers in aqua, both should be thanked for their professionalism, despite their lack of success. Of course, their bloated contracts were likely thanks enough.
Both Thomas and Bushrod were handpicked by Gase as pieces to fill weak positions… neither panned out.
Far too often Bushrod’s play looked like this:
And while Thomas produced in the passing game far better after the trade of Jay Ajayi, he was always a complete liability in the run game as a blocker.
Yet, despite his improved production late in the season as a receiver, there were too many of these types of bumbling plays for 6 million dollars.
So with two games left, and the Post Season most likely not happening, will we get to see if Duarte or Smith can produce in game time action?
Duarte will have to leapfrog tight ends Anthony Fasano, MarQueis Gray and A.J. Derby to get snaps. But Derby hasn’t played yet, so maybe Duarte will be the third TE in 3 TE sets. Problem with that is he isn’t noted for his blocking skills.
If Derby isn’t shelved, most pay per head sites aren’t high on him being active–but it will be something to watch for.
Smith could be an answer at Right Tackle… fingers crossed
As for Smith, who was sidelined with a knee injury, he joins reserve offensive linemen Jake Brendel, Zach Sterup, and Isaac Asiata.
But unlike Duarte, I think he has a real shot to see action. Sam Young has done an excellent job given his limitations. In many ways, his consistency has trumped Ja’Wuan James’ talent. But he isn’t a long term solution. He’s too weak and get’s bullied too often. So the staff might want to see if Smith can survive live fire, before the Offseason’s decision on whether James has a future with the team.
Though, without a doubt, Young has earned a contract with the Fins next year.
I was very high on Smith’s potential in the Preseason. He had a Jesse Davis type dark horse feel… although, I think from a physical standpoint he was a year off Davis. But maybe during his rehab things have changed a bit. A few months in a NFL strength program may have made a difference.
Last we saw of Smith he was a banger with quick feet and good speed and agility, but hadn’t matched up with 1st string talent for a prolonged duration.
Despite what Gase says, I think he has one eye on the 2018 Season. And if not this game against the Chiefs, then the last game of the season against the Bills, he might just give a few new guys a shot. If so, I hope one of them is Smith. Go Fins!!!