Prior to last Sunday’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, most Miami Dolphins fans likely had no idea who those two players were. And for good reason.
Jones, 29, is a 6’-3” 260 pound tight end who spent his underclass years with Liberty and Shepherd University, and has bounced around to ten different franchises since college. After playing two years in the United Football League and the Indoor Football League, he’s been cut thirteen times by eight different NFL teams. He defines the word ‘journeyman’.
Gray, 26, is 6’-4” and 255 pounds, and played quarterback at the University of Minnesota, while also playing wide receiver at times, totaling 60 catches for 766 yards in his four years as an undergrad. He worked out as a quarterback at the 2011 NFL combine, but was moved to running back and then tight end in the pros. He bounced around with four different NFL teams before the Dolphins signed him as a camp body last March.
Yeah, not exactly household names.
But with Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims both expected to miss games due to concussions, Jones and Gray will both be key cogs in the Dolphins offense for the foreseeable future. And head coach Adam Gase doesn’t seem to be too worried about plugging in two unknowns at key positions in his offense.
“We'll just see how this whole thing shakes out,” Gase said.
Gase had no information on when or if Cameron is expected to return, stating, “I don't think we're on any time table or deadline or anything like that. He's still in the protocol. We're kind of just going through the steps that we have to go through. It's one of those things that you have no control over it. I talk to him just to see how he's doing and get as much of an update as I can, but the league kind of handles all this and then we just play off of that.”
With Sims and Cameron on the shelf, Gase admits that he, along with general manager Chris Grier and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum, are exploring all their options. They could look at bringing in a free agent at the position, and they have also discussed rookie Thomas Duarte, currently on the practice squad, whom could be added to the active roster if necessary.
But after the performances of Jones and Gray, they could also stand pat, as the two totaled over 90 yards receiving between them, and made plays when called upon.
“They were very aggressive with the outside linebackers and defensive ends,” said head coach Adam Gase. “It was good to see those guys really step up. D.J.'s been with me a couple of times. I've always felt comfortable with him. That was one of the main reasons he's back - he knows the system. He knows how to operate in it. He did a good job (catching) and run blocking. Q did an unbelievable job as far as … stepping in and keeping that rolling.”
Both players played roles in springing running back Jay Ajayi for 204 rushing yards on Sunday, and both could see their playing time increase significantly if that play continues this week against the Buffalo Bills.
And so at almost the halfway point of the season, and the Dolphins could be starting two relatively unknowns trying to make a name for themselves. Such is life in the NFL.
“You never know what’s going on in this league,” said Gray. “You’re only one play from being a starter, and here we are now.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
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