Hidden Gems on the Roster?

The newcomers, whether it be veterans Karlos Dansby or Brandon Marshall, and the draft picks are expected to play significant roles if the Dolphins are to improve upon their 7-9 record of a year ago. But what about getting unexpected contributions from unlikely sources? There clearly are a few players on the roster who could surprise and wind up playing key roles in 2010.

We'll start on offense, where two guys who come to mind very quickly are wide receiver Patrick Turner and tight end Kory Sperry.

Yes, Turner was a major disappointment as a rookie in 2009, but he's still 6-5 with great body control and the kind of hands to be a factor in the red zone.

There's not even a guarantee that Turner will make the 53-man roster because, quite frankly, if he doesn't improve upon last year's performance he could get cut in camp.

But we get the feeling he'll get every chance to show what he can do and he could wind up being a surprise.

As for Sperry, he flashed pass-catching ability last year and he's also the only tight end on the roster with any kind of speed. Given the strength of Chad Henne's arm, you know the Dolphins want to get the ball downfield in the passing game and Sperry could play a role in that.

There also are two guys to watch on defense, namely lineman Ikaika Alama-Francis and linebacker Tim Dobbins.

Alama-Francis didn't see the field after being signed last year, but don't forget that he's a former second-round pick of the Detroit Lions. So we're talking about a guy who clearly does have ability. The Dolphins are counting on first-round pick Jared Odrick to make a big contribution this season, but they like to rotate a lot of defensive linemen, so Alama-Francis will get his shot.

Dobbins, meanwhile, came over from San Diego in the draft-day trade to move down in the first round and we expect him to play a big role in 2010.

It wouldn't even shock us to see him unseat Channing Crowder for the starting job alongside Dansby.

Dobbins is an active player who makes more things happen that Crowder, as evidenced by his number of big plays in his four-year career (including three forced fumbles and two intercepitons). At the very least, Dobbins will be a major player on special teams.

Finally, there's the special teams and we'd tell you to be on the lookout for running back Kory Sheets as a potential kickoff returner.

Of course, he'll have a tough time simply making the roster because the Dolphins have such tremendous depth at running back with Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown and Patrick Cobbs, not to mention Lex Hilliard.

But Sheets is a speedy back with a lot of potential who could give the Dolphins something to think about with a strong showing at training camp.


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