MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The news that Miami Dolphins running back Jeff Wilson Jr. will miss at least some time — and theoretically the whole season — raised questions about the wisdom of recent decisions made by Miami’s leadership.
Wilson and Raheem Mostert were supposed to be the Dolphins’ two-headed beast in the backfield, with Salvon Ahmed and De’Von Achane filling specialized roles.
Throw in rookie free agent Chris Brooks as the Dolphins’ power back, and Miami had what Mostert last week called “one of the best running back rooms” in football.
That probably needs some revision now that Wilson is on injured reserve. Would the Dolphins have rethought their decision not to match or even beat the one-year, $7 million contract Dalvin Cook got from the New York Jets?
Raheem Mostert on the end of the Jonathan Taylor trade talks pic.twitter.com/heoft8jyIq
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) August 30, 2023
The Dolphins have repeatedly said they are high on that group, which now includes former Titans third-round pick Darrynton Evans, whom Miami added to its practice squad after cutdown day.
Certainly, the group could have benefited from adding Cook or Jonathan Taylor (via trade), but the salary cap forces tough decisions, and Chris Grier decided long ago that overpaying running backs is a fool’s errand.
So barring a midseason trade, what you see now is largely what the Dolphins will have in 2023. The good news? Mostert might be both bigger and better than ever.
Miami Dolphins RB Raheem Mostert Bulks Up
Mostert in 2022 set career-highs in carries (181) and rushing yards (891) and still nearly averaged five yards per carry.
He was able to put up those numbers because he set or tied personal records in games played (16) and started (14). Injuries robbed Mostert of his prime earning years, but his Year 8 renaissance was a joy, considering the odds he beat.
Many athletes are never the same after undergoing the cartilage repair surgery he needed after suffering a significant injury two years ago this month.
The Dolphins offered Mostert a one-year, $3.1 million contract in March 2022, and the gamble paid off with a big season from the ex-49er. Miami brought him back this offseason on a two-year pact.
Mostert is determined to again prove the Dolphins right to make that commitment. And he’s taken steps this offseason to be able to handle however much work Mike McDaniel throws his way.
Mostert bulked up from 205 pounds to 215 — which might be the biggest he’s played at in his career.
When asked why he added that mass, he replied:
“Just for my own personal use. I feel like last year I utilized my strength a little bit more, but this year, you know, I wanted to bulk up and be able to have a durability for myself in the game.”
Mostert prepared himself to be the Dolphins’ feature back. And now that Wilson is out for the foreseeable future, he will fill the role.
But don’t expect a bigger, stronger Mostert to average 25 carries a game. The Dolphins, even without Wilson, have options in the backfield.
Here’s Mostert’s scouting report of the group of RBs that Miami is carrying into the opener:
“Well, first off, you got myself. A savvy vet, going into Year 9. You know, I’ve played a lot of games and I’ve seen a lot as well. . …
“You got De’Von, a nice guy, charismatic. A little bit quiet, you know, but also a jokester, and he brings a lot of dynamic [ability] to the offense, especially with his feet. Me and him are one in the same, I’m just a little bit bigger.
“And then you got Chris who’s like, he’s finding his way into a role now where he knows that he has to use his body, and he’s utilizing that as best as possible. Unbelievable pass catcher as you can tell this past preseason. He’s had several touchdowns, running routes out of the backfield, even in the screen game.
“And you also got Salvon, he just, he’s almost like a splitting image of myself, you know, he’s fast, he can bring a little bit of power, and he makes the right reads when he goes, he goes, so we have a good group of guys in the room, and then, of course, you can’t forget the fullback Alec [Ingold]. That’s my brother right there.”
He’s the one that’s bringing the juice all the time and ready to go to war with anybody on the offense.”
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