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'Hard Knocks' gives Dolphins chance to showcase talent

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Posted June 06, 2012 @ 11:16 a.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

Fans outside South Florida are going to learn a lot about the Dolphins this summer thanks to HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” which will profile the Dolphins throughout training camp. 

Unlike their division foe Jets, the last team to be featured on the show, but similar to other teams that have opened doors to cameras, the Dolphins don’t necessarily have a lot of star power or name recognition on their club. Aside from Reggie Bush, Jake Long, Karlos Dansby, Cameron Wake and Ryan Tannehill, how many Dolphins can the average NFL fan name?

One of the several reasons the Dolphins likely accepted the opportunity to be on “Hard Knocks” is that it gives the club a chance to showcase its young talent. Yes, the Dolphins are coming off three consecutive losing seasons — a franchise first since the merger — but they have shown sparks, including a 6-3 finish last year.

The club does have some great story lines — a three-player quarterback competition that includes a top-10 draft pick, a new coaching staff, a GM who is much-maligned throughout the media and more, as addressed in this Sun-Sentinel piece. Those are some of the reasons HBO is looking forward to bringing cameras to South Florida, but the Dolphins can get something out of this, too.

There are some young Dolphins players who can really benefit from “Hard Knocks” and may later make a name for themselves on the field in 2012, and these are the players that the Fins' organization wants to market to NFL fans outside Florida. These are the players that will make a 49ers fan in California say at some point during the 2012 season, “Hey, I remember that guy from ‘Hard Knocks!’ He’s really turned into a player.”

CBs Vontae Davis and Sean Smith — For the second edition in a row, HBO gets a pair of young, confident cornerbacks to showcase on “Hard Knocks.” Two years ago, it was the Jets' Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Now, the Dolphins get a chance to show off Davis and Smith to audiences around the country. At 6-3, 214 pounds, Smith has the size any defensive coordinator wants in a cornerback, but he has yet to live up to his potential as he enters a contract year. A breakout year could earn Smith a fat new contract in 2013. Davis battled injuries last year after a very impressive 2010 season. The former first-rounder has shown the physical tools to be a lockdown corner, but is still generally unknown around the NFL. Ironically, Davis made headlines in '10 when Brett Favre called him "one of the best corners in the league, especially that no one knows about." Davis and Smith boasted last summer that they were the best corner tandem in the league. They didn’t live up to it in 2011, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t stand out in 2012, and that journey will begin on HBO, where producers would love the type of confident talk the duo showed last August.

WR Brian Hartline — Hartline received quite the vote of confidence from the club entering his fourth season, which is the last year of his rookie contract. By trading Brandon Marshall and not signing or drafting a potential No. 1 wideout, the Dolphins are pinning hopes that Hartline can break out in 2012. An under-the-radar receiver, Hartline has been productive in his three years. The spotlight will be on him this season, and it starts in “Hard Knocks." Should Hartline take advantage of an increased role and put up big numbers this season, he will be able to cash in next spring.

C Mike Pouncey — He didn’t get the type of attention that his brother Maurkice received in his rookie season in 2010, but Mike Pouncey was one of the most consistent players for the Dolphins last year, especially on a shaky offensive line. The Dolphins’ center position has been a revolving door in the past decade, Pouncey will be the first player to start at center in back-to-back seasons for Miami since Samson Satele in 2007-2008. A young, charismatic player, Pouncey could gain some attention from the HBO cameras, and fans around the league can get to know one of the up-and-coming centers a little better.

DE Jared Odrick — The expected pass-rush threat opposite Cameron Wake, Odrick is a young, unproven player oozing with potential. He didn’t make it out of the first game of his rookie season in 2010 before suffering a season-ending injury and logged only seven starts last season — but he recorded six sacks. Odrick has shown some personality and his new role on the D-line in Miami’s 4-3 could be one of the things to watch in training camp and on “Hard Knocks.”


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