While it certainly pays for players to have traits that they can call great, teams also need those players who can be a Jack-of-all-trades, a versatile player who can be plugged in to play at any position at any time.
After the overhaul the Miami Dolphins did to the tight end position in the offseason, trading for Julius Thomas to be a seam threat and signing veteran Anthony Fasano to be the top blocking tight end, that left MarQueis Gray without a set role on the team after he signed a two-year extension to stay with the team.
But Gray showed potential in his limited time last season, making 14 catches for 174 yards and showing impressive proficiency as a blocker in his own right. Now, with Thomas and Fasano bringing their own specialties to the tight end room, Gray is getting a chance to learn from both of them.
“It’s a lot of help, mainly (for) myself." Gray said on Thursday. "I’m still new to this tight end thing and having those two veteran guys – Fasano and ‘J.T.’ (Julius Thomas) – in that room is helping out a lot. Learning different tricks and trades of playing the tight end position as well as being able to run routes, they’re helping out our young guys a lot.”
The fact that Gray himself is still learning the position is telling. He has spent time with the Browns, the Vikings and the Bills before landing in Miami, and yet he's still in the league despite bouncing around almost every year of his career. What does Gray himself attribute to his persevering presence?
“Overall, just being able to play more than one position, being flexible." he said. "That’s why I take a lot of time in the playbook. Just in case somebody were to go down, I have to make sure I know that play, so I can be one of those guys they can have no problem (saying), ‘Q, go play this.’ That’s one of the things I believe has kept me around in the NFL so far.”
Gray has shown that he can be both a good weapon and a good blocker, not great at either, but enough to carve out a niche for himself in the Dolphins offense. He's even versatile enough to potentially be an emergency quarterback if the situation were to call for it, though Gray himself admitted he wasn't sure if Gase would have him in that role again.
"If they needed me, I would’ve tried to prepare myself the best that I could and get put in those situations to be successful."
Versatility is the key to Gray's success at this point in his career, and with the proper coaching, he could become a dangerous role player in Adam Gase's offense. Now, he just has to work on improving both his skills to their fullest potential.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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