June 15 (UPI) — Quarterback Ryan Tannehill enters the season surrounded by perhaps the most talented group of skill players of his career. Part of that is due to the addition of tight end Julius Thomas.
Thomas joined the Dolphins through a March trade. He was considered a free agent bust with the Jacksonville Jaguars, piling up just 736 yards and nine scores in two seasons with the franchise. Before heading south to Florida, Thomas starred with the Denver Broncos. His two best seasons came with Gase as his offensive coordinator. He scored 12 touchdowns in each of those campaigns.
His downfall in Jacksonville was tied largely to the fact that he couldn’t stay on the field. Injuries kept him out for 11 games in 2015 and 2016. He started just 17 times between the two seasons. But Thomas has quickly become a veteran voice for the Dolphins and he’s looking to rejuvenate his career with Gase.
“It’s not hard for him to fit in,” Gase said Thursday at the Dolphins’ final day of its mandatory three-day minicamp. “He’s going to fit in because he’s going to talk to everybody. He’s going to know everything about everybody. I think he’s just enjoying being back in this system. I’ve enjoyed it because it’s fun for me. I was with him when he was a rookie. Watching him go through some really low moments in his career and then I saw him at the highest of the high. To get him back and he’s a veteran, it’s been really fun to be around him again.”
Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen maintains that he thinks Thomas can return to his 10-touchdown form. For that to happen, Gase said Thomas needs to “keep working.” But the coach has faith in Thomas because of his effort and work ethic.
“You keep putting him in position in plays and when we get those chances, he’s going to have to make a play,” Gase said. “That’s what this game is about, it’s about players making plays. I guess I just have a history where things have worked out. I’ve seen him be at his lowest moments and he’s a fighter. He’ll give you everything he has and he’ll keep swinging.”
If Thomas is swinging, the Dolphins will have a great punch of pass catchers. Thomas is a proven red zone threat and will be a safety-net-like target for Tannehill.
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Keep an eye on Thomas for fantasy football purposes as well. While he is no longer a top-5 threat at the position or playing with Peyton Manning, he could be an adequate fringe starter in deeper leagues. Thomas is also a good depth piece if you have a high-end tight end with an extensive injury history. It shouldn’t surprise you if Thomas ends up with more than six scores in 2017.
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