Dolphins receiver Legedu Naanee was signed to be a special teams ace and backup on offense. But after two weeks of training camp, he's listed atop the depth chart and turning heads each day in practice.
"Every season is a fresh start," Naanee told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "Being able to come to a new team with a new kind of focus, a whole new coach, a whole new regime and a whole new offense for me -- I've never been in this kind of offense before -- so it's definitely a fresh start. It feels good to kind of re-hone all your skills."
Naanee, a five-year veteran who played in San Diego and Carolina, drew cheers from fans on Wednesday when he made a deep catch between two defenders a day after making a finger-tip grab along the sidelines. And those circus catches have become a consistent theme for the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder, a big reason he is expected to start Friday's preseason game against Tampa Bay.
Not bad for a player who signed a contract for the league minimum in April after making just 44 catches for 467 yards with one touchdown last season with the Panthers.
"He does everything you ask him to do,” offensive coordinator Mike Sherman told the newspaper. “He's an unbelievable special teams player as well, so he's a total team player from that regard. He'll block. He'll make the big catch."
And big catches have been hard to come by for the Dolphins.
Receivers combined for a mere 10 receiving touchdowns and just 36 catches of at least 20 yards last season. Naanee could be a big part of helping reverse those numbers.
Changing lanes: Jorvorskie Lane is finding a role in the NFL. The former Texas A&M star running back is carving out a spot for himself on the 53-man roster by trimming his 5-11 frame down to 258 pounds and embracing blocking as a fullback. The position switch began in college under then-coach Mike Sherman, who was named offensive coordinator this offseason.
But it hasn't been easy for Lane. The 25-year-old bounced around several indoor leagues and trained as a mixed martial arts fighter before getting his shot this month in Davie.
“Obviously we have to find out a little more about his blocking and special teams ability,” coach Joe Philbin said. “I don't envision us being a team that will necessarily line up and have a fullback 45 plays in a game.”
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