Sunday, July 19, 2009

For Your Special Consideration:

Ah, yes, the special teams. On every team, a player may be asked to play special teams at some point, but on the Dolphins it's more of a 'take it or leave it' guarantee. The following players were chosen as players to watch through training camp and the pre-season because I wanted to show a variety of reasons why they could end up making it onto the 53-man roster due to special teams play. There are a good 20 or more players that fit into this category, but to keep things from epic-proportions I've narrowed it down to eleven players and also have skipped over the field-goal unit. We all know that the linemen blocking for the kicker are going to be chosen for their line play, not their special teams presence.

So, in no particular order, here we go:


Jason Allen, CB.
Two reasons why I immediately wrote down Allen's name when I started my list. First, he was the top kick coverage guy on the team last year, leading the unit in tackles, downed punts, and almost always outran his blocker. He did everything that was asked of him on special teams. But everyone is asking him for more. They want him to be a starter on defense. And the fan comments I've read over the last two years suggest that they believe if he's not a starter, he's not good enough to be on the team. Well, his production as a reserve speaks for itself. His size and speed cannot be overlooked when looking for a 'gunner'.

Eric Walden, LB.
Miami's special teams coverage unit was not that 'special' through most of the year in 2008. We needed a spark to get things clicking. Enter Eric Walden. Whether it was the shuffling around of bodies, or Walden in particular, the bottom line is that things got better when he showed up. With the incredibly crowded linebacker corp creating competition between Matt Roth, Jason Taylor, Joey Porter, Cam Wake, Walden, Charlie Anderson, Tearrius George and Quentin Moses, the only realistic way that Walden makes the cut is if he is the special teams beast we might think he is.

William Kershaw, LB
. Ok, so Channing Crowder, Akin Ayodele, and Reggie Torbor are going to be on the 53. That leaves space for one more inside linebacker spot and it's going to be between Kershaw, JD Folsom and Orion Martin. Kershaw has experience in his favor, playing primarily special teams in a half dozen NFL games over the last 3 years. He would need to be so good on special teams that he would be hard to live without. Even then, it's likely he wouldn't be on the active game roster. I believe he has more upside than Folsom, but possibly less than Martin. With that said I see Martin as a prime candidate for the practice squad and Folsom being a bit out of his depth. I think Kershaw by now should know what he needs to do to win a roster spot.

Vontae Davis, CB.
Say what, Tin? Our number one pick needs special teams to make the roster? No, I'm not saying that. But I am saying that he will likely get more reps on special teams than on defense, at least to start with. Miami had a few gunners last year, J. Allen, Brandon London, Patrick Cobbs, Nate Jones, etc. Well, my guess is London won't make the team, and Cobbs and Jones both struggled at times last year at bringing down the returner. Enter Vontae Davis. If you know his style, he's really well set to be the guy who runs 50 yards downfield and pummels the guy trying to catch and run with the ball.

Nathan Jones, CB. Jones was one of several special-teams 'aces' that the Trifecta brought in last year with th intention of having a sure thing on S/T whilst giving them an opportunity to have a break-out year on offense or defense. Well, most of them didn't have any significant impact on those units (think Boomer Grigsby, Keith Davis, Torbor, Anderson, etc.) but of that group, Jones probably got the most opportunity. I would say he was average at best. He seemed to be in my group of guys to yell at during the season for missing tackles or playing too soft. I would suspect that if the Trifecta were going to sit in a room and look at game tape of all the DBs and then choose who gets to stay and who gets cut, Jones would be in trouble. But I suspect he practices well enough to make an impression. He got to start a game last year despite looking very shaky prior to that in games. He got a bit better towards the end of the year. But he didn't make any impact on special teams which was his golden ticket before the season. You know when they replace you with miniscule Patrick Cobbs or skyscraper Brandon London, that you may not be getting the job done.

Brian Hartline, WR.
Ok, this guy just signed a pretty decent contract, and I recently discovered he's rated a '92' on EA Sports' NCAA football. He has been called 'just another Camarillo' which is unfair, because had he been in the same offense for two years in a row, he could have been a second round pick whereas Camarillo was an undrafted free agent and only caught 46 passes in 4 years at Stanford. Hartline, meanwhile, caught 52 passes in his sophomore year at Ohio State alone. Also, Camarillo ain't playin no special teams these days. Hartline, however, is one of the few players I've ever seen both returning and covering punts in the same game as well as being a starting WR. The guy has won several special teams player-of-the-week awards in College. We'll have to see how he does against the 'big boys' but I suspect you will see Hartline on that Sunday S/T unit.

Cameron Wake, LB.
Well, we've discussed a few 'gunners' but every special teams unit needs some bigger bodies that also have the speed, the ability to escape blocks, and long reach to get to the returner. Wake obviously has those skills, and with the traffic jam at his position, I can't see a scenario where he wouldn't have to play on the S/T unit. That may seem like a step-down for the former CFL-standout, but lo and behold, the guy played on special teams in Canada at the same time he was the consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award winner. The number of kicks
he's blocked in his career is more than the number of people who've actually seen the elusive Krispy Kreme Bacon Chees Burger in the wild. [don't quote me on that]

John Nalbone, TE.
Nalbone is going to be in the fight for his life come August. He had the great misfortune of being drafted onto a team that already had 3 tight-ends, with a fourth converted from the WR position. If that wasn't bad enough, they then picked up an undrafted rookie as well, bringing the total to 6. I can't see the Dolphins keeping more than 3 tight-ends (open to debate), and at this point Fasano is a sure thing, and unless they have a trade partner set up, Martin should be safe. The question then comes up of who has the most upside, Haynos, Wilford, Nalbone or Bronson. I can safely say it's not Wilford or Bronson. Bronson can't catch, and Wilford can't run or separate from blocks which means he can't play special teams. So that leaves Nalbone and Haynos. Haynos is not a speed demon but he is massive and played a lot on kicking units as a blocker. Personally I'm a fan of Haynos and I can see lots of reasons to keep him, but the Nalbone pick suggests that their may be a chance for change at the position. Nalbone's only real shot at making an impression this early on is on special teams. Based on his opening day rookie-camp comments about preferring not to be a blocker, he'd need to change his mind-set. He's no Kellen Winslow. He's a low-round drafted rookie at the bottom of the depth chart.

Patrick Cobbs, RB. Cobbs is not going to slip out of that 3rd RB spot, and Coach Sparano has said he'd like to get Cobbs more involved. For the time being though, it looks like he'll have to continue to try to make his impact on special teams. We just have so many offensive options heading into 2009 that it will be hard to spread the ball around (a very good problem to have). Also with more snaps going to Ronnie Brown in 2009, Ricky Williams and Cobbs will get fewer touches out of the backfield. But Cobbs can return kicks and play coverage (like Hartline above), and this will get him on the field.

Charlie Anderson, LB.
I've been dreading doing this write-up because I knew I would have to put Anderson up here. Charlie Hold-erson, as he's referred to at my house on Sundays, was lucky last year. While he was committing costly penalty after costly penalty on special teams, I was unaware of how much we were paying him to void touchdowns and big returns. Between Anderson and Torbor, we might have the most expensive special teams unit heading into 2009. Surely then, we should have the best unit? The truth is that Anderson only has one shot to stay on the Dolphins, and that's his special teams play. He did manage to block a punt at the end of the season. But before that, he was wholly unspectacular apart from providing some pressure on 3rd down pass-rushes. It wasn't good enough.

Anthony Armstrong, WR.
The more I know about Armstrong and London, the implied last two men standing in the competition for the final WR spot, the more I like Armstrong over London. But that's personal bias. The fact is that London has more upside, and a lot of people have suggested that London is THE guy Sparano has referred to as THE potential #1 guy despite not giving a name. I see where that argument comes from, but I honestly believe that Sparano was actually just saying what he needed to say, and that he doesn't know yet who that guy is. But back to Armstrong. Obviously he's not the #1 guy, he's trying to be #5 or #6 at this point. The thing he will have to do to get there is return kicks. He's fast as ****, and needs to use it to blow everyone else out of the water. His best chance to do that is on kick returns.

So those are the eleven I'll be watching in training camp to see who is returning kicks, who is 'gunning' for the returner, etc. I believe that due to increased competition at several areas where special teamers are usually grabbed from, the final s/t unit could be made up of some significant talent. Who else do you see needing to break out on special teams to make the team?

41 comments:

  1. Home SuperBowl 2010July 20, 2009 at 9:57 AM

    U Look at a pick like ProBowler Jake Long and what he did and can do for the Dolphins future
    Granted they were not the very first pick but still a first round pick  Jasen Allen and Ted Ginn have had some small flashes of brilliance
    If they do not pick up their game in a big way this season then the trifecta needs to cast them off
    If other teams see Jason Allen as an upgrade to their defense or special teams I would seriously consider packaging him in a trade with our "extra receivers /linebackers" and seeing if we can get another decent body on either side of the line as the Trifecta sees fit

    Think Vonte would probably be putting on the hits on special teams but surely dont want him injured

    Think cobbs might bring as much versatility as Mike Vrabel brought to NE Patriots
    This guy might have one of the biggest hearts on the team and seems to always give 110%
    Great job by Trifecta locking up Cobbs

    As for training camp
    I will probably be looking for some shade  LOL
    It is like being on the planet Mercury watching morning practices in Davie, but usually worth it to the HARDCORE FAN

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  2. Yeah we just hit our 18th straight day over 100 degrees over here.
    Ironically, I live in the 'City of Trees' yet there's no shade ANYWHERE, but
    enough concrete to raise the mercury a good 20 degrees.

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  3. <span style="">""Who else do you see needing to break out on special teams to make the team?""</span>

    <span style="">Eric Green,in place of Vontae would be my suggestion...</span> 

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  4. Tin, I don't really know enough about most of these guys to say yay or nay, but what I do know is we NEED to do something on the ST unit.  3rd WORST in the league in field position is just unacceptable! Now, some of that was from Dan K. not kicking deep enough, some was from Fields struggling with his directional kicking, some from your boy Charlie Holderson having run backs called back for holding, but the majority of it in my opinion is from piss poor tackling! Jason Allen led the team. Nuff Said.  I think a lot of our problems on ST came from poor coaching on the ST unit, and maybe some inconsistency from pluggin in new guys every week.  Sparano has to get it fixed this year or we will be playing catch up all year. 

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  5. And,IF we keep 4 ILB's,I hope it's OMartin(UPSIDE)!! 

    I think AA,BL are fighting for one WR spot,and Anderson,OMartin,EGreen,or NJones' are batteling for ONE spot..

    I have WALDEN,and CULVER(MY diamonds)as locks,but that's JMO!!!

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  6. How dare you diss the S/T coach, the one guy who gives a commencement address wearing a baseball cap, especially a Dolphins one.  That's pure class man!

    No, but you're right, Bono is a joke and I would give him and a 3rd round pick up for Westhoff.

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  7. 13kvFins, "Anderson,OMartin,EGreen,or NJones' are batteling for ONE spot.."

    One spot on the ST squad? they play 3 different posistions. Also, I have Culver (against what Tin says) on my cut casualty list. 

    Tin, BONO is the biggest joke on the coaching staff.  I don't remeber why we let Westhoff walk.  Which rocket scientist head coach got rid of him?  I think it was in 2001 when he left.  I hope something happens there this year.

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  8. "<span style=" ">fan comments I've read over the last two years suggest that they believe if he's not a starter, he's not good enough to be on the team."</span>



    <span style=" ">This sums up my biggest frustration with some of the forum comments of my fellow dolphin fans. Fan's throw around the "bust" label far too liberally, and then when a premature label has found it's way onto an early draftee they perpetuate this logical fallacy by assuming a (arbitrarily labeled) "bust" is not worthy of a roster spot.</span>



    <span style=" ">It's as though they're unaware that a player can play BELOW his predraft projections and STILL BE GOOD ENOUGH to play in the NFL.</span>



    <span style=" ">As said many many times before, your run-of-mill fan either CAN NOT or WILL NOT extricate his/her predraft expectations from his/her subsequent player evaluations.</span>

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  9. I think he left after the 2000 season so yeah it would've been in 2001. I
    don't even remember who the coach was then...wannstache?
    I believe Westhoff won a coach of the year award that year after having the
    best special teams in the league. So he couldn't have been fired...could
    he?

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  10. I'm usually guilty of that till about the rookie's preseason, then I get
    over it, lol. Bottom line is it's a team game, and you have to field the
    best 53.

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  11. Jahndoh, I agree with you.  I on the other hand tend toward the far end of the spectrum and defend players (like Ginn, Beck, Satelle, J. Allen, etc.) well after their value to the team drop below their draft expectations and coaches cut or trade them.  Call me a Homer.

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  12. Jahndoh, I saw over on SS that you are fed up with the low brow posting going on there.  It has gotten bad. Almost as bad as Miami Heralds.  Come over to Tin's site.  He does a great job keeping the animals fed with new stuff almost every day.  I think the last blog post on SS is 6 days old! what are they all on vacation again?  None of them want to work. they just want to regurgitate (Sp?) the same shit again and again, or even copy from other's web-sites!  Tin does a better job and it isn't even his REAL job.  I am very let down by Omar & Mike they are really slacking

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  13. Rock, ONE of the 53 spot's(OMartin,Green,Anderson,Jones)!!!
     Though I could see TWO as possibilities,(1CB,1LB)....
    I KNOWWW they play 3 different position's =-O !!! 

    I STILL have CULVER,Walden,and Haynos as lock's(on MY list),have since"08"...

    I have MY(pre-camp) 53!!!
    IF I'm wrong about 3 to 5 come Aug,(cuz there will be surprises),I'd consider that a pretty good job...

    GO BPHINS !!! 

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  14. Are we missing some here or is it just me.  When we keep a person for only special teams play and little else, then salary cap space must be considered.  I'm fine with a guy making the team because of his play on special teams but not when he costs any more than the league minimum or close to it.  Don't you want your 6 million dollar man to be a starter ?  It doesn't please me that Jason Allen is our #1 ST player and also one of our #1 picks a few years back.  If all he can do is play ST let him find work elsewhere, to make room for a guy that can on be the field more often or crack the starting lineup.

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  15. Fang, Jason Allen does not make $6 million. If you're going to jump on a
    guy for the size of his paycheck, you should be picking on Torbor and
    Anderson.

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  16. Home SuperBowl 2010July 20, 2009 at 2:48 PM

    Think Ginn will positively make it happen this season
    Although certainly will not have as many opportunities as if he was with a Brees  Brady  Manning or Cutler arm strength
    Offensive line should allow a little more time
    Hard to throw deep when your on your back
    Think Fins will see more of same tight end passes and more balls to slot receivers
    Think Ronnie will see many more carries per game cuz Fins will be able to run thru the tackles and continuesly move the chains
    Ronnie will truely earn his money and have his best season to date
    Hope Ronnie is a Fin for another 2-3 years

    Also think Bears may be a contender with the Eagles in NFC   What cha think?
    What happened to healthy girl with beer carton on head?
    Wanted to see how she would look in an imported beer carton

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  17. Tin, we're planning a trip in the near future to Sac., so I was checking the weather and you have some relief in site.  As for Special Teams goes, I usually don't pay much attention to them except for the returners until something goes wrong, like field position.  I'd rather have a depth/backup every down player make the team than a Special Teams only guy.  With the last couple of yrs having very bad ST units is starting to change my mind. 

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  18. Home SuperBowl 2010July 20, 2009 at 2:59 PM

    Also think neither rookie QB STAF or SANCHEZ will amount to anthing better than subpar in the NFL

    Was watching repeat game of UF kicking GA and STAFs @ss 49-3 with 3 minutes left last season on local sports tv

    Think Jon Gruden will resurface next 2010 season with new NFL head coaching job to turn around worst team in NFL with Tim Tebow
    Gruden has huge man crush on Tebow and has been reported to be astutely studying college spread offenses
    Like Chucky 
    Be good to see him back and this time stick with one QB for several  back to back years

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  19. Yeah but do you have any lottery predictions?

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  20. Home SuperBowl 2010July 20, 2009 at 4:10 PM

     Be careful what u ask for Tin

    Lottery Predictions:

    Ronnie Brown
    15TDs
    1400 YDs
    ProBowl again

    MIAMI 12-4
    AFC CHAMPIONS
    First Home SuperBowl in Nfl History


    ***** The DYNASTY BE FINS! *****

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  21. Home SuperBowl 2010July 20, 2009 at 4:17 PM

    Perhaps for play 3

    143 Miami Dolphins (not that there is anything wrong with that)

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  22. Tin I should not have mentioned anyones name.  I like J. Allen I don't understqnd why he's not playing full time ?  I used him as an example not a scape goat.  I have no idea how much he makes, he was the perfect example of what I was trying to explain. 

    Most ST players are cannon fodder.  I'll make you happy here and use another name Mr. Willford would be a great fit for a ST player except he makes to much, he should be gone.  See what i mean Connon fodder. :)

    Think NE wants him ?

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  23. son of a son of a shulaJuly 20, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    And leave his Monday Night Football gig...

    There are some tested old vet coaches sitting around, Chuckie of course but Shanahan and Cowher. Even Holmgren and Dungy. All of these guys have won Super Bowls and aren't very old (maybe Holmgren is). These young snot nose coaches will be looking over their shoulder when the losses pile up AhemRyan, AhemMcDaniel, AhemRaheem. And Norv buddy if you make it past this year it'll be a miracle.

    Tin, good job on this post I think I concur with most assessments but don't know about Armstrong as a return man even though it makes sense for him.
    Some guys especially Cobbs and now J Allen, earn roster spots because of their special teams play but consequently earn playing time on O or D as a result. Their contributions shouldn't be understated these types of guys and Walden too over the course of the season become invaluable. I look for big things from Hartline and Wake in special teams as Tin points out. It wouldn't surprise me to see JT play some ST some this year too.

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  24. ...just because someone disagrees with YOUR player eval doesn't make them a "run-of-the-mill" fan ...it may in fact be the opposite, eh.

    ...JA has a LOT of athletic talent and potential to be a great db ...but three coaching staffs have been unable to put him on the field and keep him there because he apparently can't get his head around it ...the recent otas are just another example ...multiple reports had him constantly looking to the sidelines for instructions.

    ...and while I'll take tins word that he's been a ST strength, that only goes so far ...if another db can consistently be counted on to do the db job in the game and JA can't, JA will be playing on another team before camp is over ...he is paid way too much money to play ST and otherwise warm the bench and his warranty is up ...he either proves up in camp or is prime trade bait ...I don't think he will be on our final 53

    ...if that makes me a run-of-the-mill fan in your book, you might need an editor, eh.

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  25. ...ummm ...can we jump on all three? :-P

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  26. lemmus your avatar looks like something I've fished with.  Did you pick that up at the Bass Pro Shop ? =-O

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  27. Hey Home Supe when Ronnie makes those numbers and our record is as you suggest he'll be looking at MVP, right?

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  28. son of a son of a shulaJuly 20, 2009 at 6:42 PM

    <table class="js-singleCommentBodyT" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="100%">
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    <div class="js-singleCommentText"><span><span style=" ">“</span></span>Hey Home Supe when Ronnie makes those numbers and our record is as you suggest he'll be looking at MVP, right?</div>
    </td>
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    </tbody>
    </table>

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  29. son of a son of a shulaJuly 20, 2009 at 6:44 PM

    Hey Home Supe when Ronnie puts up those numbers and our record is as you suggest he should be looking at MVP, right?

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  30. Home SuperBowl 2010July 20, 2009 at 8:16 PM

    Indeed s of an s of an s

    Actually think Ronnie may very likely surpass 15 tds but dont want to get too over confident
    Make my predictions early stick exactly to them all season
    wont let them slip anyones mind either

    Hope for MVP esp when Dolphins win the AFC
    Peterson  the other Williams from Carolina and that running back that iam sure is an alien Steve Jackson dont exactly suck either

    However with our system and Ronnie truely in phenom shape and O-line ready to prove themselves would not trade Ronnie Brown for any of them
    Ronnie Brown is a Miami Dolphin
    Time Dolfans from around the globe recognize this supreme talent and support him
    Want him for at least 3 more seasons

    Think this is the year our stadium really goes wild every game


    Predict RB gets 3 TDs in 2 games and 2 Tds in 4 games that being said means he only needs one more TD in 10 games to reach 15

    Do not be suprized if this Wildcat eclipses 20 TDs
    WRITE IT DOWN TIN WE WILL CELEBRATE IN FEBRUARY

    Cannot beleive Omar Kelly predicts Ronnie will only get 8 TDs  ALL SEASON
    might as well put pistol in mouth now
    With all due respect Omar is gonna look real stupid with this prediction

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  31. Home SuperBowl 2010July 20, 2009 at 8:37 PM

    If Ronnie Brown does not have 8 TDs by the end of game 10
    Home SuperBowl 2010 will wear nothing but a J-LO enhanced plastic butt and knights green flip flops and run around the stadium with a Landshark Lager in each hand and a slice of lime on each ear  singing as loud as I can "The Rythme Is Gonna Getcha"

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  32. son of a son of a shulaJuly 20, 2009 at 8:50 PM

    OH No, we don't need to see that. Run Ronnie Run...

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  33. how is that any different from how you usually dress/behave at the games?

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  34. ...I found my original available on other blogs where I didn't want it so I switched to the first thing available ...suits me fine :-P

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  35. BWAHAHAHA!

    While I think all your predictions need to be taken with a grain of salt Homebowl, I also hope they're all right!

    Your numbers on RB aren't all that ambitious though if ya ask me, I'd have expected more home slant from you :)

    SoaSoaS, I don't think those numbers would neccesarily win MVP for Ronnie, but he'd have to be in the discussion. Every year pretty much there's a RB with those types of numbers (well the TD number IS kinda rosy I guess), but last year AP, Clinton Portis, Deangelo Will., and Micheal Turner all put up better yardage than that, and Michael Turner, Deang, Brandon Jac. and Lendale White all had more TDs than that.

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  36. son of a son of a shulaJuly 21, 2009 at 2:09 PM

    Yeah I was focusing on the TD's more so than the yds. Cause if he has another 600 yds receiving and perhaps tosses a couple TD's from the widcat he'd become widely popular. With 1500 rushing and 5-600 rec. over 2K is huge from scrimmage (no return yds.).
    It would all hinge on us winning a-lot of games (wait am I talking myself into a prediction with all this?) and the Wildcat driving his popularity for an MVP season.
    I was also teeing one up for Home Supe!

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  37. Home SuperBowl 2010July 21, 2009 at 4:26 PM

    s of an s of an s

    Even I think 500-600-receving yards is too much
    Maybe 200-250 receving yards

    Smash mouth lower the shoulder break tackles and just cant stop the Wildcat Stud is gonna keep Ronnie plenty busy

    Dont see him catching too mant this season with Bess /Camarillo in the slot and penningtons likable TE targets esp. Vinny Barbaraino

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  38. Home SuperBowl 2010July 21, 2009 at 4:30 PM

    X`Cuse the spelling mauling big bowl of whole wheat pasta/heavy garlic and meat sauce spicy marina

    stay tuned for on twitter
    so u know my next meal
    LOL

    ReplyDelete
  39. son of a son of a shulaJuly 21, 2009 at 7:54 PM

    Come on Home Soup you're the one who wanted us to get more fired up. Hell I am. But you're right there will be plenty of guys looking to catch passes. Patrick Turner !

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  40. Home SuperBowl 2010July 22, 2009 at 7:13 AM

    S of an S of an S

    Point was Ronnie will only get 200-250 yds receiving
    Dont see him getting that many passes

    As for the rest of the club
    Feel Penny will do excellent job spreading the ball around with high completion percentage and plenty of sevicable targets

    Dont think they will burn Ronnie out lining him up at wide receiver and dont expect him to get more than 250 yds with dump off passes

    SIMPLY THE BESS is going to be the main slot guy then Camarillo

    Ronnie is gonna be busting it straight ahead

    Aint it cool

    ***** The DYNASTY BE FINS! *****

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