A couple of years gone by lets take a peak at the Miami Dolphins 2011 draft class.
To begin with the only starter from the Miami 2011 draft that starts for the team is their center Mike Pouncey. But they also have faith in two others from the same draft class.
Miami believes that running back Daniel Thomas and fullback Charles Clay can turn into key players for the upcoming season.
Thomas for his first two seasons was plagued by injuries and inconsistency. Last season he missed a few games because of a hamstring injury and a concussion last October followed by straining his meniscus in December.
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin believes when full health will be special.
According the offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, he looks forward to pairing Clay with starting tight end Dustin Keller. The Dolphins look to run special formations that require each of them on a play.
In the draft the Dolphins traded up to get Thomas in the second round, while Clay was drafted in the sixth round. As Clay seems like a fairy tale since he’s lasted this long in the NFL, both their careers have had similar acts. Both with flashes of promise and both knee injuries and surgeries which made them miss the last two games of the 2012 season.
Lamar Miller will most likely be the starter, Thomas has received some of first-team reps and Sherman states the running back competition is “pretty close.”
The best games of Thomas’ NFL career were his first two games of playing in the NFL. His first game against Houston Texans, an 18 carry, 107 yard game. His game against the Oakland Raiders was a 23 carry and 95 yards. During his college day at Kansas State, Thomas averaged 5.2 yards in his two seasons, but with 23 games in the NFL, he’s only averaging 3.5 yards, which he calls unacceptable.
Thomas say's “It feels like I had injuries all the time, and I had never gotten hurt before,” he said. This offseason, he trained in Arizona with a group of players including Terrell Suggs and Tim Tebow. “I wanted to get my legs back stronger (because of knee surgery). I’ve been very inconsistent. This is the year I’ve got to put everything together.” He continues to say “I feel quicker and faster. I am better back than I was the first two years.”
In the preseason game in Jacksonville, he had eight- and nine-yard runs to help the Dolphins score a first-quarter touchdown. He had encouraging practices including Monday with runs and fancy catches along the sideline.
“I like what he’s doing in camp,” Philbin continued, “I’m very happy with the way he’s practicing. He’s running the ball hard. He’s been doing a good job in pass protection.”
He’s matured over the year; Philbin says “He’s going about his business in a professional manner.”
For Clay, is now working at both the fullback and tight end. Sherman says he “really has stepped up.” Clay and Keller are both excel in finding seams in the middle of the defense, which is why the Dolphins look forward for the duo to work on the field together.
“We talk all the time about the weapon we can be together,” Clay said “I want to say we can be the top tight end duo in the league. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him.”
Keller said he not only is versatile but also “he does everything well. He can block well. If you put a safety or linebacker on him, you can take advantage of that matchup.”
The only other player still on the Dolphins from the 2011 draft class is back-up safety Jimmy Wilson all the others are long gone.