Posted: 1:50 am Sunday, August 18th, 2013
Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller out for season; Houston’s Swearinger says league needs to worry about leg injuries more than concussions
By Andrew Abramson
csprtjs.src = ‘http://edgecdn.cinesport.com/container.js’;
var first_s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’); first_s.parentNode.insertBefore(csprtjs, first_s);
HOUSTON — Texans rookie safety D.J. Swearinger’s helmet to Dustin Keller’s knee cost Keller his season.
Keller is officially out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL according to a league source. The news is no surprise to Dolphins teammates who were preparing to move on without him last night.
But Swearinger told me after the game that he was forced to hit low because of the league rules that fine players for making hits to the head.
“I was making a hit playing football,” Swearinger said. “In this league you’ve got to go low. If you go high you’re going to get a fine.”
Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo had some words for Swearinger after the hit but he said it’s all a blur.
“If I did (talk to Swearinger) he wasn’t listening,” Clabo said. “He was doing his little dance or whatever he was doing.”
Clabo said the league needs to change the rules.
“If they can protect defenders from low blocks, they should be able to protect offensive players from that type of play,” Clabo said.
Swearinger said the league should be more concerned with leg injuries than concussions.
“The rules say you can’t hit high so I went low and I’m sorry that happened,” Swearinger said. “I would think you’d rather have more concussions than leg injuries. Leg injury, you can’t come back from that. A concussion, you be back in a couple of weeks.”
But as the rules currently stand, Swearinger made a legal hit and Keller is done. Now the Dolphins must quickly recoup.
The Dolphins are excited about rookie fourth-round draft choice Dion Sims. But having Sims as a back-up tight end or using him in occasional two tight sets is a lot different than handing him the starting job on a team hoping to make the playoffs.
The Dolphins have several options: Either move forward with Sims, second-year player Michael Egnew and tight end/fullback Charles Clay, sign one of the unattractive options on the free agent market (see: Randy McMichael, Todd Heap), wait for a team to drop a tight end or make a trade.
I spoke to Sims, Egnew and Clay after Sunday’s 24-17 loss to Houston. All three players say they’re ready to step up if needed, but none sounded more confident than Sims.
“It’s my time to go,” Sims said. “I have to step up. I’m ready to go. I’ve been ready to go since I first stepped down there at the (training) facility.”
In training camp Sims was noted more for his blocking ability than pass catching, but he said he can do it all. He said he hasn’t had a chance to showcase everything yet.
“I wouldn’t say that,” said Sims of being a blocking tight end. “I’d say it just depends on how I’m being used. I feel like I’m pretty good, pretty solid in both areas.”
While he feels ready to be the guy, Sims knows it will take a while to reach his full potential.
“I’m still a rookie and I’ve got a long way to go,” he said.
Egnew, a third-round draft choice last year who didn’t catch a pass and was considered a borderline roster player this year, has become good friends with Keller. He was upset after the game but he said the Dolphins have other talented tight ends besides Keller.
“There is going to be a lot of pressure. There’s always a lot of pressure,” Egnew said. “Fortunately we’re coached well. We have good quarterbacks. I think we can naturally fall right into it.”
Clay said he’s been working “real hard” to get a starting role with the team.
“That’s something I’ve been working real hard at, getting better at,” Clay said. “If my number is called I have no choice but to do it.
“I feel like a lot of these guys put in work everyday. I feel like if any one of our numbers is called at anytime, I feel like any of the guys would step up.”
Coach Joe Philbin said the team “has other guys that have caught the ball down the middle” besides Keller.
“We’ve got some big targets,” Philbin said. “Egnew is a big man. Dion Sims is a big man. Clay has caught the ball down the middle before. We’ll adjust.”
Tannehill was already speaking about Keller in past tense and said the Dolphins need to move on.
“Dustin brought a lot to the team. He was a great player,” Tannehill said. “It’s a tough situation. At the end of the day we have to have somebody step up and play in his shoes. We have a good tight end in Egnew, Clay, Dion. Those guys have to step up and fill the void.”
Keller was on a one-year deal with the Dolphins and was replacing Anthony Fasano who signed with Kansas City.