Undrafted free agent Chris McCain made a huge splash in Week One of the 2014 season for the Miami Dolphins when he had one sack and a blocked punt against the New England Patriots. Throughout the remainder of the season, we saw him in limited action. Now, in 2015, the coaching staff are expecting big things from him, although Kevin Coyle said that at this point, there is no definite starting lineup.
“Chris is a really good athlete. He's got good coverage skills. He's got length. He's got good pass rush skills. He's a good blitzer.” Coyle said. “Some of his skillset lends to the linebacker position, some of it lends to being a pass rusher. Our charge right now is to make sure he's getting enough work rushing the passer and at the linebacker position. He's been getting a lot of base work at linebacker and a lot of rush work with our nickel package. We're going to continue to do that and we're cross training Koa (Misi) and Kelvin (Sheppard), (they) are both doing great work out here at the Mike position. We're going to make sure that they learn multiple positions, so that, at the end of the day when we look at our core linebackers, we're making sure we've got the right guys on the field.”
Coyle went into more detail about cross-training players for multiple positions so they have depth on the defensive unit, which is something they lacked towards the end of the 2014 season due to various reasons, including a myriad of injuries.
“What we're doing is trying to cross train some guys, so that we can get depth within our own core, not just in numbers, but depth and flexibility to move guys - one guy from a Sam to a Mike or a Will to a Sam, so you're getting the best players on the field at the end of the day. That's what we're doing at each position, too. In the secondary, guys are playing nickel and outside and safeties are going to learn how to play dime. We're going to do a few things as we move forward. Hopefully, our depth will improve."
Head Coach Joe Philbin also said that he’s pleased with the progress McCain has made and they will continue to work him in primarily as linebacker but will also switch him up at defensive end when the situation warrants it.
"He's been playing linebacker since he got here, he's been in that room. On third down, in different situations, we've used him as a defensive end, but it's not foreign that he's playing linebacker. Again, he's a young guy, he's a gut that benefits from every repetition he gets out there. I think he's shown himself pretty well so far, as you mentioned, it's very early and we're just getting guys in and getting them reps."
The Dolphins are tinkering with different starting lineups at the linebacker position and McCain is definitely in position to grab one of the spots along with Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi. Coyle has said that nothing will be figured out until the middle to end of training camp so we still have some time but it appears that it is McCain’s job to lose.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs