Clemons Making Strong Statement for Free Safety

By Matt Gullette

With lots of speculation surrounding the Dolphins’ free safety competition, the Miami Dolphins may have found their starter in-house as opposed to a veteran free agent.

According to head coach Tony Sparano, the Dolphins are impressed with what they’ve seen from second-year pro Chris Clemons so far, an indication that Miami isn’t interested in upgrading with either free agents Ken Hamlin or O.J. Atogwe.

Drafted out of Clemson, Clemons  started two games last year for Miami posting 13 tackles.

It would be ideal for the Dolphins organization to find their starting free safety in-house, especially for their wallet. Sparano said Clemons has taken more snaps in practice than anyone else, a chance for the third-year pro out of Clemson to learn the new defensive schemes.

“I was just talking about it to the team [Tuesday] morning,” coach Tony Sparano said. “Chris has 256 scrimmage plays right now in practice. That’s the most on the team by any player. Those are live scrimmage repetitions. And he has minimal, minimal mental mistakes.”

Clemons plays loudly on the field with lightning quick speed and ability to make plays on the ball, but his biggest flaw is that he’s quiet by nature. If anyone can make Clemons more vocal, though, it’s crafty defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

He’s got the potential, no doubt about it,” said strong safety Yeremiah Bell, who starts on the opposite side. “He has it in him. He’s doing a great job right now. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do, and he’s getting better every day.”

Anyway you slice it, it’s still a young group of guys competing for free safety, there’s no doubt about that. Clemons appears to have the advantage right now with Tyrone Culver practicing at strong safety and untested rookie Reshad Jones just trying to earn a spot on the roster.

There’s still a lot of people who believe Miami may choose to upgrade with a veteran like Atogwe or Hamlin if they aren’t satisfied with Clemons. Considering the move they made to get Steelers’ Ryan Clark to visit, I wouldn’t put it past this organization to spend some more cash.

For now, though, Clemons appears to be the answer, and I’m excited to see what this young kid can do. But there’s still a lot of time before the season starts.

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