DAVIE—It seemed to come out of nowhere when the Dolphins claimed tight end A.J. Derby off waivers from the Broncos on Wednesday, but apparently he is someone the scouting department has been tracking for a while.
The big question, though, was whether he could play. Derby’s run with Denver ended with an injury settlement because of a shoulder issue. He appears to be fine, however, and went through all of today’s practice in his first day with the Dolphins.
“I passed my physical,” he said. “I’m ready to go.”
Derby, 26, is an intriguing acquisition that might be more of a long-term move for Miami than someone they think can help immediately. He’s 6-foot-5, 255 pounds and had 19 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns in nine games for the Broncos this year.
It seems unlikely he will jump ahead of Julius Thomas, Anthony Fasano or MarQueis Gray in the near future. Dolphins coach Adam Gase didn’t have much to say about him today, and offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said he had “minimal” information on him.
When asked about his strengths, Derby declined to answer. When asked whether he’s better at blocking or pass catching, he also passed.
The one interesting thing he said was describing the whirlwind of landing with the Dolphins. He is married with a one-month-old baby, and they will remain in Colorado while he plays here.
“It was pretty crazy,” Derby said. “I was in Vail yesterday and then I got the call from Miami that I was claimed, and I hopped on the flight and overnight I was here.
“That’s part of the job. I’m happy to be here. My wife knows what the life’s like. We’ve talked about it, and she’s a champ for that. She’s very understanding.”
The Patriots drafted him out of Arkansas (he was a college teammate of Dolphins practice squad receiver Drew Morgan) in the sixth round in 2015 and traded him to Denver for a fifth-rounder last year. He played 15 games for the Broncos, including four starts.
One interesting element of this transaction is the fact that Denver and Miami face each other this week. Derby, who arrived in South Florida around 6 a.m. today, said the coaching staff has not yet pressed him for scouting intel on the Broncos.
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