Now Or Never?

The Dolphins are counting on several of their newcomers, most notably Brandon Marshall and Karlos Dansby, to make a big impact for the team in 2010, but there's another way the team could improve on its 2009 performance. That would be for a few underachieving players to step up their game.

It would be a good thing for those players as well because otherwise they might find themselves with another team before too long.

Here, then, is a look at those Dolphins players potentially looking at a make-or-break season.

QB PAT WHITE: Sure, it might be early to talk about a make-or-break season for a second-year player, but let's be honest here, White has to show something to convince the Dolphins he can be a contributor at some point. We're still thinking his future will have to be at a position other than quarterback, although his lack of size always will be a problem.

RB RONNIE BROWN: This is pretty much injury-related. Brown already has shown he can be productive, but he's also had two major injuries in the last three years and the Dolphins aren't going to give him the long-term contract he wants until they're satisfied he can be durable. Even then, there's no guarantee that contract will come.

TE ANTHONY FASANO: One of the surprises of the offseason was that the Dolphins didn't pick up a tight end to stretch the field. Coach Tony Sparano blamed Fasano's drop in numbers in 2009 to being asked to block more often, but the fact remains Fasano wasn't nearly as good in 2009 as he was in 2008.

G DONALD THOMAS: He seemed to be a favorite of the coaches as a rookie, but apparently hasn't progressed the way they would have hoped. He'll now have to fight for a starting job, maybe even a roster spot.

C JAKE GROVE: A big free agent signing in 2009, Grove now is splitting time as the starting center with Joe Berger. Durability again might be the issue here.

DE PHILLIP MERLING: As the 32nd pick in the 2008 draft, Merling virtually was a first-round choice even though he went at the top of Round 2. Regardless, he's done little in his first two seasons to justify that draft status.

DT PAUL SOLIAI: Soliai seemingly has all the tools to succeed, but he's had problems keeping his weight in check and his work ethic also hasn't been ideal. Translation: This might be his last chance to show he deserves to stay on this team.

LB CHANNING CROWDER: Crowder has been a serviceable starter for the Dolphins, but he simply hasn't made many big plays and now there's a concern about his durability because of knee issues and last year's Lis Franc injury. His spot in the starting lineup is not guaranteed.


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