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3 posts from September 3, 2013

September 03, 2013

Watkins responds to Roseman comments

Danny Watkins seems like a good guy. Whether he's a good player, we shall see eventually.

I know this, the Dolphins' time with Josh Samuda was played out. Samuda got a very good chance to win a starting job this preseason. It was probably a better chance than he deserved because one player (John Jerry) got hurt and another player (Lance Louis) was fighting to come back from knee surgery. Samuda couldn't take advantage of the opportunity.

And so in steps Watkins, a former first round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, who was cut from that team a couple of days ago after only two seasons with the club. It seems like a good move.

But there are questions.

If you read what Eagles GM Howard Roseman said about Watkins in the last post you know it's quite an indictment when an NFL GM says a player has shown little toughness.

I asked Watkins his thoughts about Roseman's comment.

"I got to Philadelphia and it was just a rough go from the get-go," Watkins said. "I felt like it just got broken down to bones and never got built back. It was more a mental thing. I was very disappointing to myself that it never panned out the way it could. Because I know I can play physical and tough football but it just never ... I think it was more a mental aspect than anything.

"These last three years have been such a whirlwind. it was great opportunity to play in the NFL. My college career was great, I love Baylor and what they did for me there. Looking back, six years ago if you had told me I'd be in the position I am today, I would have laughed at you. I'm very fortunate and very blessed to be where I am today."

Watkins picked the Dolphins over another NFL team, he said. He declined to specify what team. I asked him if he believes this is his last chance to find an NFL home.

"I'm very excited to be here and I know Miami has a, well the past history with the players here" Watkins said. "So this is huge for me. Like I said, it's the most exciting thing that's happened to me and I'm going to take full advantage of the opportunity and make the best of it."

The Dolphins asked Watkins to work at snapping the football some on Monday. Is he a viable backup center?

It doesn't sound like it right away.

"I was a tackle in college. and guard in the NFL," he said.

Watkins said he's comfortable playing either left or right guard. 

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin declined to say who the backup center is now that Samuda is gone. He cited competitive reasons for declining to answer.

Update from practice and who is Danny Watkins?

Here's a quick update on what's going on at practice today:

The rookie cornerbacks are still not practicing. Will Davis (ankle) and Jamar Taylor (hernia) missed the second straight day of preparation for the Cleveland Browns.

Davis, in a walking boot Monday, is out of the boot today. He was walking quite gingerly. Interestingly, yesterday Davis wore the boot on his left tankle. The team complained to at least one reporter about writing which ankle was wearing the boot. Today, Davis is wearing wrapping and a sleeve on his right ankle. Pretty sly, those Dolphins.

By the way, The Herald's Adam Beasley has reported Taylor will likely not play against the Browns. Just as well. He was bad in the preseason finale and clearly not ready to compete on an NFL regular-season level.

Long snapper John Denney and quarterback Pat Devlin were also absent from drills today. No reasons for those absenses yet, although Denney's, at least, is believed to be excused for personal reasons.

Newcomer Danny Watkins was at practice today, as expected. I believe the best use for him is as guard-center swing guy. Watkins is a former first-round pick waived by Philadelphia after only two years.

Why the bust in Philly?

The media in Philadelphia questioned his passion for football and Eagles GM Howard Roseman questioned his toughness, which is never good for an offensive lineman. Or a football player.

“When you watched Danny play, the toughness, the hockey-playing aspect of him, never translated to Philadelphia, and that’s one of the things that I told him today, was that when you watched him at Baylor and when you watched him at the Senior Bowl and when you met him, he had this innate toughness about him,” Roseman told CSNPhilly.
“You felt like you were getting an enforcer, and he never let himself go here on that, and I don’t know why that was. I told him that was what I was the most confused by. Because that was something that everyone at Baylor told you about and you saw on his play on the field, and I think it all goes back to the pressure he put on himself here."

Roseman interestingly believes a change of scenary will help Watkins.
“He put a lot of pressure on himself, and he couldn’t just go out and play, and I think getting away from being Danny Watkins the first-round pick and just being Danny Watkins will really help him,” Roseman said.

Well, that takes care of Watkins' aggressiveness. But the media in Philly also questioned his dedication and passion. It is no secret Watkins' first love is firefighting. He came to the United States to become a fireman, not a football player.

From today's Philadelphia Daily News:

"That photo on the firefighting site Northeastbravest.com the Inquirer uncovered, of Danny dressed out in full Rescue 1 gear at a Northeast Philly fire last Dec. 16, carrying a motorized saw, is really all you need to know about Danny and passion. His passion was for firefighting, which is what he left idyllic Kelowna, British Columbia, to come to the United States to learn more about. He got sidetracked by football. When somebody tells you that you can win a college scholarship, and then make millions of dollars doing something professionally, you pay attention. But paying attention does not put you on the intensity same level as someone who has spent his life hungry to play the game, living it, breathing it.

The Eagles were off that day in December when Danny toted gear around for his fire department buddies. But less than two months earlier, he had left the starting lineup with an ankle problem, and then he’d lost his starting job to journeyman Jake Scott, signed off the street. You’re a recent No. 1 pick consigned to the bench. Wouldn’t you want to spend every extra minute watching tape, perfecting technique, working in the weight room to get bigger and faster?"


Dolphins sign Watkins, waive Samuda

The Dolphins have signed guard Danny Watkins, a former first-round pick of the Eagles. To room on the roster for Watkins the team waived guard Josh Samuda.

For Watkins this is a chance to redeem himself after a tough couple of years in Philadelphia. For Samuda, who had a poor preseason moving from center to  guard, his time with the Dolphins is in jeapardy as he is not practice squad eligible. 

The 6-3, 310 pound Watkins joins Miami after spending the last two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (2011-12).  He was selected with the 23rd overall pick by the Eagles in the 2011 NFL Draft. In his career, Watkins has started 18 of the 23 games in which he appeared for the Eagles.  

Watkins was a two-year letter winner and started all 25 games played at Baylor after beginning  his collegiate career at Butte College. As a member of the Bears he earned first-team All-Big 12 Conference honors as a senior. Born November 6, 1984, Watkins played rugby and hockey at Mt. Boucherie Secondary School in West Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.

Watkins is a reclamation project to be sure. He fell out of favor under new head coach Chip Kelly. But even before then, there were questions about his desire and love for the game.

The Dolphins have had success with reclamation projects at guard before with Richie Incognito. Of course, that was under a different head coach and staff.

We'll see.

Watkins signed a one-year contract.

Watkins played 126 snaps in the preseason at right guard and ProFootballFocus.com rated him the 39th best offensive guard in the league. He committed one penalty, gave up one sack, and had a minus-1.2 run blocking grade during those games.

Last year Watkins was ranked the NFL's 54th best offensive guard based on the seven games and 461 snaps he played. He had a minus-4.7 overall grade, allowing just one sack, nine quarterback hurries and committing two penalties.

Watkins was considered a bust in Philadelphia. Bottom line is he is better off in Miami where he comes in as a backup with a chance to prove himself. He has no draft pedigree he needs to live up to here.

If he's only good enough to be a backup, no one will complain. He was, after all, signed to a low-budget deal. If he's good enough to push John Jerry at right guard or eventually succeed Richie Incognito, who is in the final year of his contract, he'll be considered a huge success.

If he isn't very good at all, he'll be another bottom of the roster player that eventually is churned out on waivers.

It's a win-win-win.