Five Dolphins players have five weeks to prove worth to organization

DAVIE – As a result of injuries on both sides of the ball, the Dolphins have dealt with a great deal of personnel changes this season. While some players were asked to unexpectedly fill voids due to injury, some players came into the 2017 season with knowledge they’d be asked to step up.

Unfortunately, not many players thrust into the spotlight this season have had success on a consistent basis, which is emblematic of the Dolphins’ 4-7 record.

With five games remaining, here are five players who have a tremendous opportunity to solidify their positions in Miami:

Kenyan Drake

With his co-starter, Damien Williams injured and five games in the season left to make an impression Drake has a great opportunity to prove he can be the Dolphins’ feature back. Drake has had his fair share of explosive plays since getting more carries from scrimmage, but his big plays have been marred by two costly fumbles. Drake must perform admirably moving forward and prove he can be trusted to protect the ball, and make big plays on the ground and in the passing game.

 

Kiko Alonso

Making his long awaited move from Mike backer to Will backer, Kiko Alonso hasn’t played as well this year compared to 2016. The Will backer is supposed to be where the team’s most athletic linebacker lines up, and on multiple occasions, Alonso has looked entirely too stiff to tackle in space and a beat late in coverage. Playing Mike backer is ideal for Alonso but Raekwon McMillan is the Dolphins Mike backer of the future, and Alonso must prove that he can handle responsibilities at weakside linebacker moving forward. If not, the Dolphins may be forced to address the position in the offseason.

Xavien Howard

Lauded for his tackling ability and physicality, Howard has not performed to his expectations this season. Howard has just three passes defended and admittedly needs to improve upon trusting his preparation, turning his head and finding the football in flight. Howard is talented and has the size and athleticism necessary to be a very good No.1 cornerback for the Dolphins but he must let it fly for the five remaining games and play with confidence. He’s got nothing to lose.

DeVante Parker

Parker’s performance during training camp led many to believe that 2017 could be his breakout season, but unfortunately an ankle injury he sustained against the Tennessee Titans has derailed his progress. Parker still isn’t 100 percent and according to offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen, he’s “lost his edge” as a result. Parker has been given opportunities to make plays in recent weeks but he hasn’t come through for his team, which is concerning. While Parker is obviously talented, the Dolphins will need to rethink what they do at the wide receiver position in the offseason with Parker’s paucity of production and Jarvis Landry set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018.

Jake Brendel

Right guard Jermon Bushrod has not practiced this week and could be out of the line-up with a foot injury this week. Jake Brendel will have tremendous opportunity to prove his worth to the Dolphins by playing well in the remaining five games. Brendel has enough versatility to play guard and center, but the Dolphins need to see him play well at one position in order to determine if one, or two interior offensive linemen might be needed in the offseason. Brendel is not under contract for the 2018 season, but if he plays well down the stretch, Miami will certainly bring him back into the fold.

 

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Brandon Howard joined the Sports Talk Florida team to cover the Miami Dolphins in April 2017 and will work diligently to provide daily Dolphins content and give accurate analysis of the roster, coaching and front office. Last season, Howard was the curator of content for Miami Dolphins Wire/ USA Today while aggregating high school sports results in Broward and Palm Beach counties for the Sun Sentinel. Prior to moving to South Florida Howard developed NFL content for Pro Player Insiders while covering the Cleveland Browns from 2014-2015. Howard, a Columbus, Ohio native graduated from West Virginia in 2004 in Athletic Coaching and Education. He also was a scholarship track and field athlete and walk-on football player. Howard was the 2003 Big East Long and IC4A long jump Champion and was a provisional national qualifier in the event. He also maintained his status as a member of the Athletic Director Academic Honor Roll during his time as a Mountaineer.