Miami Dolphins betting big on Julius Thomas at tight end

Can Anthony Fasano be a factor in the passing game? He hasn’t been one in years. (Getty Images)

Last year, the Dolphins got minimal receiving production from the tight end position once they lost Jordan Cameron early in the year. Cameron was shaky enough for Plan A after underachieving the season before, and there wasn’t much depth behind him. The end result was Dion Sims leading the position with 256 yards and four touchdowns on 26 catches.

Miami is one Julius Thomas injury away from being in a similar spot.

While the team isn’t paying Thomas a ton, it’s banking on him being a big factor in the passing game all year. He’s coming off an injury-hampered run in Jacksonville in which he totaled 736 yards, 76 catches and nine touchdowns in two years. The Dolphins are hoping he’ll get back to what he was in Denver before that, when he was considered one of the best tight ends in the league.

Behind him, though, there are question marks. If Thomas can’t make it through a full season, the next man in line is likely 33-year-old Anthony Fasano.

He spent 2008 through ’12 with the Dolphins, tying the franchise record for touchdowns by a tight end with seven in ’08, before playing for the Chiefs and Titans the past four years. With Tennessee last season, he had eight catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Fasano hasn’t caught more than 26 passes in a season since leaving Miami. He’s known more for his blocking than his receiving ability at this point.

This is where drafting a tight end would’ve helped the Dolphins, who spent five of their first six picks on defense and wrapped up with a wide receiver in the seventh round. They did not sign any undrafted tight ends, either.

After Fasano, Miami has MarQueis Gray, Thomas Duarte and Chris Pantale. Gray is by far the most experienced of the three. He’s got 26 catches for 318 yards in 45 career games over four years with the Browns, Bills, Vikings and Dolphins. Pantale and Duarte have never started a game or caught a pass.

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