DAVIE — There have been times when Leonte Carroo is watching special teams film from last season and he wants to duck underneath a table.
“You could just see how bloated my stomach looked and how big I look,” Carroo recalled Sunday. “Now, I look in the mirror and I look good and I feel good. Look better, play good.”
Carroo played at about 221 pounds last season. He’s currently at 212 with a target of 208.
Make no mistake, the Carroo who took the field as a rookie looked nothing like the Carroo who stood out in the fourth Miami Dolphins training camp practice.
Carroo made two outstanding plays.
First, he battled underneath on a hard-fought ball win over Michael Thomas on a pass from Matt Moore.
“That’s what I’m known for, just having strong hands and competing,” Carroo said. “‘Mike T’ and I were battling for the ball and I was just going to come down with it.”
Later, Carroo caught a deep bomb from Moore against Walt Aikens down the left sideline for an apparent touchdown, though refs said he was just shy of the goal line.
“In my eyes, it was a touchdown,” Carroo said. “We’ll watch it on film.”
Carroo had only three catches for 29 yards last season, but Adam Gase is encouraged.
“I think he’s done a really good job,” Gase said.
Gase said that Carroo has done a better job breaking off the line of scrimmage more quickly. And that his conditioning has improved.
“The DB’s are struggling putting their hands on him and trying to stay with him,” Gase said. “He’s physically hard to handle and he’s making it very tough on them.”
Gase said Carroo no longer labors at the end of hot practices.
“Last year during training camp I couldn’t do two plays without breathing heavy and dying,” Carroo said. “This year, I’m able to run four, five or six plays without feeling as tired. I just have to go out there and continue to take each day by day and continue to grind.”
Carroo said he’s trying to feed off of the “The Big 3” of Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills, “so that I can make my way into their little group.”
As discouraging as his rookie season was, Sunday was encouraging for Carroo.
“My coaches tell me every single day that I have the ability,” he said. “That’s why they drafted me in the third round. My teammates also. They know what I can do. They know what I’m capable of. And I’ve just got to show them each and every day that I’m getting better and better.”
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