Miami Dolphins: 3 Players to Watch Week 3 vs. Oakland Raiders

Steve Mitchell – USA TODAY Sports

Minkah Fitzpatrick

We’re only two games into the season. The NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint. He’s only a rookie. I know all the reasons to temper excitement about Miami Dolphins rookie safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Those reasons are valid. But if the first two games of his career are any indication, Fitzpatrick is going to be a superstar in this league. He’s already a bonafide stud in the Dolphins defensive backfield, and is quickly on his way to earning the trademarked nickname “FitzMagic”.

Fitzpatrick already has nine tackles in his first two games as a pro. More than the raw stats, though, the hype on FItzpatrick has been more about how he looks out there. Defensive backs are never — or at least shouldn’t — be filling up the box score with tackles. That said, Fitzpatrick’s nine tackles are already good for third on the team. Moreover, he gives the Dolphins defense versatility that can’t be understated. He looks comfortable covering in the slot, and he has the tools to step back into the safety roll. Tools he may need to make use of against the Oakland Raiders.

All-world safety Reshad Jones is currently questionable with a shoulder injury. No one can fill Jones’ shoes and duplicate what he brings to the team, both in performance and leadership. However, if anyone has to step in for a game and replace Jones, Fitzpatrick looks like just the guy to do it. Jones is likely to play, but Fitzpatrick is likely to see an expanded role to compensate.

It’s not going to be easy for Fitzpatrick and the rest of the Dolphins secondary this week. They’re matched up against Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and Derek Carr. It’s not exactly the “cream of the crop” in the NFL, but it’s the best trio the Dolphins have faced so far. It might not be fair to expect so much of a rookie so early, but Fitzpatrick looks the part of a perennial Pro Bowl safety right out of the gate.

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