MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace has been known as a playmaker throughout his NFL career.
Wallace brought that big-play ability with him to Miami when he signed a five-year $60 million contract in the spring of 2013, but difficulty getting in sync with Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill limited the impact that Wallace could have on opposing defenses.
It appears that the Dolphins may have found another way for Wallace to make a big splash in the upcoming season.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Wallace said that he may be called upon to return kicks in addition to his role on the Dolphins offense.
“I might get back there for kickoff returns,” said Wallace. “I just want to be on the field making an impact for my team. I’ve always wanted to return kicks ever since I’ve been in the NFL.”
Wallace is widely known as one of the fastest players in the NFL and finding ways to get the ball into his hands more often could be viewed as a very smart move by Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.
“My coaches in Pittsburgh let me do it in the preseason but they didn’t want to chance anything during the regular season given that I was playing a lot on offense. At this point of my career, I just want to get the ball in my hands and make some plays.”
The threat of an injury is always a concern but Wallace wouldn’t be the only star wide receiver in the NFL called upon to return kicks. Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Percy Harvin of the Seattle Seahawks are a couple of the best wideouts in the league who also are lethal return men.
Utilizing Wallace as a returner would undoubtedly improve the Dolphins’ starting field position but there still needs to be improvement on his on-field connection with Tannehill.
There were multiple occasions last season where Wallace was open down the field but Tannehill couldn’t seem to get the timing right.
Much of that likely had to do with Miami’s offensive line which allowed Tannehill to get sacked a franchise record 58 times. That doesn’t include the countless times that the Dolphins QB was rushed and had to make throws before he wanted to.
Miami has done a lot to improve their offensive line and Tannehill should have more time to make the throws he wants to. In addition, Wallace has been working with his quarterback throughout the offseason to improve their timing and rapport.
“There were a lot of missed opportunities,” said Wallace. “Myself and Ryan Tannehill have been working together about four days per week during the offseason, just trying to connect and get on the same page. We’ve been doing really well, connecting on some of those deep balls and things are on the up for us.”
Miami hired Bill Lazor to be their new offensive coordinator and so far the players are raving about the changes.
The Dolphins finished 26th out of 32 teams in scoring last season, putting up an average of 19.8 points per game. Will Lazor’s new system be the spark that Miami’s offense needs? Only time will tell.