The Miami Dolphins signed undrafted wide receiver Roberto Wallace in 2010. He did not have huge numbers at San Diego State, but his physical gifts are impressive. 6’4″ 225, and runs with approx 4.49/40 speed. He was a project for GM Jeff Ireland. 2012 Wallace remains in aqua, and is entering a make-or-break season. The word in Florida is that he is quickly climbing the Dolphins depth chart.
Wallace is an restricted free agent following this season. He has been brought along slowly by the organization, but much is expected from him in 2012. That was already going to be true, even prior to the arrest (and ultimately release) of Chad Johnson. Head Coach Joe Philbin had a WR top 4 of Johnson, Legedu Naanee, Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline. He had been vocal about Miami needing two (minimum) of the younger guys to step up as well. Now subtract Johnson, and Hartline remains sidelined with a calf issue. We see even more emphasis/need for the younger guys to step up. We see a major opportunity for Wallace in 2012.
The depth chart at WR is in for an overhaul. Wallace, plus guys like Marlon Moore, Julius Pruitt, Jeff Fuller, Chris Hogan, and perhaps even Clyde Gates (when healthy) will get a shot to earn playing time. Of these guys it has been Wallace who has been the most consistent in training camp. Wallace has also seen training camp time (especially since Johnson release Monday) taking reps with the starters. When not working with the starters he seems to be working a lot with rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. Wallace was listed way down on the initial 2012 Dolphins depth chart, but it does seem like his career could be on the verge of action (to date, just 6 career catches)
Dolphins teammates feel that when Wallace puts everything together he is going to be a legit NFL threat. We have seen flashes in training camp (more than usual from him) so his improvement is on display. A knock on Wallace has long been that he is inconsistent with his hands. He has not been a reliable pass catcher. His route running has improved, and that was on display in the game vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wallace was targeted 5 times vs the Buccs, and he made 4 catches for 71 yards. Wallace was the only ‘Phins WR to create any separation down the field. Not deep, but he made a 21 yard catch. Every catch was at least 13 yards. The Dolphins west-coast passing game debut was mostly short or medium routes, and Wallace was impressive with the medium routes.
If Wallace is going to put it all together, then his confidence needs to go to the next level. The good news is he looked confident in the Buccs game, and even commented after the game that he is really feeling more comfortable every time out there.
If new WR coach Ken O’Keefe can get Wallace to his potential, then this could be a big year for him. The only chance he has is A) legitimately improve…B) be afforded playing time. So far, so good on both fronts.
Third year. New regime looking for reliable WR play, and willing to provide opportunities. Potentially (likely) new QB who will be looking to get the ball to the guy(s) that show they can produce. Release of Ochocinco. Continuing injury issue with Hartline. This is a long list of things that point in favor of 2012 being a major opportunity for Roberto Wallace.
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