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Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said during the rookie minicamp that Grant should play a bigger role on offense in 2017 and it’s up to the offensive coaches to figure out how to get the most out of him.
“I think he is going to be a gimmick guy,” Christensen said. “Gimmick is kind of a demeaning word but he’s so darn explosive. I think he should be a highlight film. His big plays per snap ought to be a huge number. We’re always looking for ways to get him on the field. Some of it we’ll learn how to use him better. Some of it he’ll become a better player and a more mature player and understand the offense better.
“We’re going to play him a little bit more outside. Just because he’s a little guy doesn’t mean you have to be a slot guy. Sometimes outside you can throw him a hitch out there and he can turn it into a 50-yard play. So we are looking for ways for him to be an every-down player more. I don’t know that he becomes a starter, but just to be able to stick him in for chunks of time and leave him.”
Grant, whose tremendous speed and quickness helps make up for the fact he’s 5-7, 172 pounds, got some snaps on offense last season, but he didn’t have a reception and was held to 1 yard on his one rushing attempt.
Christensen said a key to Grant becoming more of a factor on offense will be gaining more knowledge of the system so he can be more than someone just called on to run reserves.
“It’s really, really hard in this league to slip a guy in there and run a reverse,” Christensen said. “It sounds good but it’s hard to do practically, and so it’s important for him to be an every-down guy and for us to be able to put him in, and if we do have injuries, that he could play chunks. There’s no reason he can’t, right? He’s a good football player. He’s an extremely good technique kid. He has good hands. He runs good routes. He has to learn the offense better and I think he’ll do that, but look to see him maybe a little bit more outside and mix it in.
“We’re experimenting with some (different) things. Just some different places for him just to find a little niche for him to get a bigger role. I think we all see him having a little bit of a bigger role and getting more out of him than we did last year.”
No matter what happens on offense, Grant still should be a factor as a returner.
He has a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown as a rookie against Tennessee and had another touchdown called back because of a penalty. He ended up averaging 8.3 yards per punt and 23.1 yards per kickoff, with a long of 45 yards in the opener at Seattle.
But Grant wants to improve in that area as well, which is why he flew punter Matt Darr to his home in Texas after the season so he could field some live punts.
“That’s pretty impressive … that tells you how serious he is about it,” associate head coach/special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said. “Listen, usually, as a coach, you look for the biggest improvement from a player from year one to two in any phase, in anything that they’re doing — any position player, anybody. So I’m looking for a major improvement – we all are – in that phase. He knows the corrections he has to make. It’s great that he’s recognized that and he’s working on it.
“The one thing you can’t deny is what he did with the ball in his hands when he did have the ball. We just have to make sure his ball security is a lot better, his decision-making is better. Those are things that certainly have to improve. He knows that; we know that. But you can’t deny when he had in the ball in his hands, what he did. I’m really, really proud of him and really happy about his work ethic here in this offseason, because you can tell that he’s taking this thing seriously.”
Grant has long relished in his role as an underdog and it seems as though it’s continuing now even at the NFL level.
Because of his size and explosiveness, Grant is among the most fascinating players on the entire Dolphins roster. And Christensen thinks the best is yet to come for him.
“He has a unique skill set (and) a unique way of doing things that he brings to the thing,” Christensen said. “And some of them are really hard traits to find, as far his speed and his big-play (ability), his confidence, his swagger, thinking he can score on every single play. Every time he touches the ball he thinks he can score. The other thing he has, he has to fix his protecting the ball. He has to become that also.
“The theme of this thing, I just think that second year through, all of a sudden you get it. You figure it out a little bit. And I think that will be the case with him. He’ll figure out a little bit. We’ll figure it out a little bit more and then I think you’ll see him play some bigger chunks and more snaps. He’s always going to be a little bit of a specialist but there’s no reason he can’t play some series and go for a series. There’s nothing that he can’t do. He’s a physical guy. He’s maybe the strongest guy on our team pound for pound. He’s not afraid, as you saw. There’s no reason he can’t play a bunch of snaps.”