(Note: This continues a series in Daily Dolphin spotlighting members of the team individually. In addition to reliving highlights and lowlights of the past season for each, we’ll provide analysis and criticism, plus take a look at how each player fits — or doesn’t fit — into the team’s plans for 2017.)
TE MarQueis Gray
Height, weight: 6-4, 255
Experience: Entering fifth NFL season, second with Dolphins
Acquired: Signed as a free agent in March 2016
Contract: Signed two-year, $1.7 million contract with Dolphins as 2016 season concluded
Pro Football Focus rank: Unranked overall, but 26th among 63 TEs for run blocking
Stats: 16 games, seven starts, 14 receptions for 174 yards
Notable moments: Was vital to the upset of Pittsburgh in October, starting that game and recording a career-long 53-yard reception. Also threw block that helped spring Jay Ajayi for a clinching 62-yard TD. … Threw key block on Ajayi’s 11-yard TD run in overtime vs. Cleveland.
Straight talk: The Dolphins are adding ex-Broncos and Jaguars TE Julius Thomas to fill the need for a pass-catching tight end and have brought back Anthony Fasano to fill the role at a blocking tight end.
Still, there may be room for Gray.
Originally a quarterback at Minnesota, Gray takes pride today in his blocking. He was instrumental in clearing a path for Ajayi on those TD runs against the Browns and Steelers, plays he calls “more meaningful” than his 53-yard reception against Pittsburgh.
The Dolphins obviously liked what they saw, giving him a contract extension that kicks in next season.
“It felt great knowing I’ve got a team I can call home,” he said.
Prospects for 2017
After a season in which concussion problems sidelined the Dolphins’ top two TEs, Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims, they hope they’ve solidified the position with Thomas potentially improving the passing attack and tinkering with an occasional two tight end set with Fasano. Injuries and special teams needs could open the door for Gray, who might be competing with Thomas Duarte, a seventh-round pick, for a roster spot.
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