We always hear how teams need to let their young rookies develop behind the veteran players, get accustomed to the speed of the game while the pressure is off. But in some cases, the better option is to let the young rookies play, especially in situations where they may actually already be better than the veteran players.
In this case, it's a combination of both for the Miami Dolphins, as the season appears to already be over as the playoffs seem to be out of reach with the team's record of 4-7. There are several young players on the squad with lots of potential, and the time has come to see if they can play when called upon.
Perhaps the most notable of these names is rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker, who is expected to get much more playing time thanks to the injury suffered by veteran Rishard Matthews.
The standout receiver out of Louisville hadn't been able to see the field much prior to the Jets game at MetLife Stadium, but in that game he showed a small glimpse of what he could be, as he was able to juke veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie on his way to the endzone for his first ever career touchdown.
"I just remember running an out route," Parker said in an interview with TheFinsiders' Greg Likens. "In this case I saw Cromartie behind me, just tried to juke him, and then I saw the other corner come over, so I made a move on him and I just knew I had to go to the endzone, I had to score."
Parker was drafted for his big play ability and the mismatches he could create on the field with his unique blend of size and speed, and presumably the reason he's been kept out was a mixture of the play by Rishard Matthews, and his own unwillingness to trust his surgically repaired foot.
Now though, Parker is getting a chance to play and get his head in the game, as Matthews is slated to be out for several weeks with fractured ribs. But he isn't the only wide receiver slated to get some playing time, as he's slated to finally make his NFL debut against the Ravens on Sunday.
Hazel, who was drafted out of Coastal Carolina in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft, has been waiting for a long time for this opportunity, and says he hasn't been demoralized by the wait.
“Nah,” he said in an interview with the Palm Beach Post. “It’s just motivation. That’s all it is, is motivation. And just keep building, understand you’ve got to be patient. Sometimes you’ve got to pay your dues. That’s how I look at it. And time finally came.”
Also expected to step up and play is rookie cornerback Bobby McCain, who was announced as the starter opposite Brent Grimes, effectively benching a rather annoyed Jamar Taylor, who wasn't thrilled by the move and stated as such when approached by the media.
But like it or not, this is a results driven league, and Taylor hasn't played well despite receiving chance after chance to prove himself. Now, McCain has clawed his way up the depth chart with his tenacity and ball-hawking tendencies, and he's spent the week preparing himself to be the starter.
Then there's yet another rookie on the defensive side of the ball, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who the Dolphins drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft despite needs elsewhere.
So far, Phillips has paid dividends despite his limited play time, as he's already racked up 10 tackles, 2 sacks and has batted down a couple of balls at the line of scrimmage, something he's quickly found a knack for.
With C.J. Mosley now off the team due to injury, Phillips will have to spend most of his time lining up next to Ndamukong Suh. Think of it as a preview for what's to come for the next few years to come.
No one knows how 2016 will pan out, with a likely coaching search just over the horizon and several players soon to be removed due to salary, injury or other reasons, the importance for the Dolphins to see what they have in their young players skyrockets.
All of these players have talent, and could potentially take the roster spots of some expensive veterans or players who will probably depart in the offseason. If there was ever a time to get these young players some game experience, it's right now while the pressure is low.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater