Rookies to Watch: Hall of Fame Game

Every week of the preseason, I take a look at the rookies I’d like to focus on for that week. This week’s an easy one since there’s only one game: Dolphins vs. Cowboys in Canton, Ohio.

Dallas Thomas

The Tennessee product was one of the last players I watched last season. Going into his video, I was predisposed to dislike him because he had all of that Volunteer stank on him. Tennessee was such a tire fire last season that I wasn’t sure I could find a bright spot. He surprised me.

More assumptions hurt me going in: I figured his move from tackle to guard was due to a lack of athleticism and quickness. That was far from the case. Whether he was pulling or setting up in pass pro, I saw good feet and agility that can play at either guard or tackle.

Which is why I want to watch him. Thomas has practiced with the first team at left guard; and Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel said, “Dallas Thomas appears to be the 2nd team LT and then the 3rd team RT.” It’s likely that we’re going to get a chance to see Thomas do a couple of different things Sunday night.

Dion Sims

Dion Sims has quickly risen up the Dolphins’ depth chart. The Michigan State tight end was impressing coaches early in camp and that play has continued more than a week later. His play has earned him more reps, and the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson said he’s getting work alongside starter Dustin Keller in two-tight end sets.

Chad Bumphis

Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline have been sidelined for the last three practices because of injury. And really that’s about it for Miami’s depth at wide receivers. But a team has to fill out a roster.

Even if Wallace and Hartline play Sunday, they won’t get a lot of reps. This leaves a lot of time for inexperienced players and undrafted free agents. One UDFA that’s intriguing is Chad Bumphis.

Bumphis was productive at Mississippi State, but he lacks the size to play outside and the speed to be a can’t-miss slot prospect. We’ll get a chance to see if he can prove he belongs starting Sunday.

Joseph Randle

The Cowboys thought they had a steal when they picked up Joseph Randle in the fifth-round. Randle started slow in camp, but Jason Garrett attributed his struggles to off-season thumb surgery causing him to miss spring workouts.

Garrett and others say that Randle’s play has improved, but I’m looking forward to seeing the Oklahoma State running back for myself. He’s currently in a fight with 2012 UDFA Lance Dunbar for the No. 2 RB spot.

Eric Rogers

The Cal-Lutheran receiver has been one of the stories of Cowboys camp to this point. It’s the theme of a lot of camp stories: the wide receiver that lacks elite speed, but catches everything. He draws the “oohs” and “aahs” as he snatches a pass across the middle and gets drilled.

This story is in a lot of camps. The receiver has a slim chance of making the roster and an even slimmer shot of having an impact. But at least for one Sunday night with no other football games on, Rogers has my attention.

Kendial Lawrence

While Randle missed rookie minicamp, Kendial Lawrence was getting plenty of reps.

Blogging The Boys said his impact all but vanished once the vets stepped on the field:

“While the top four running backs all look fairly tightly bunched in terms of talent and style, there is a big drop-off from them to Lawrence.”

Still, Lawrence is a Missouri guy and I’ll always have a soft spot for a fellow Tiger.

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