River Cracraft’s emergence could force Dolphins into tough decision soon

Miami Dolphins wide receiver River Cracraft plans on keeping the football from his first career regular-season touchdown, which sparked the team’s fourth-quarter comeback in Baltimore, right next to his bed.

“Something I’ll hold onto forever,” Cracraft said of the 2-yard touchdown reception. “Definitely a highlight. Would like to keep those coming. It’s a starting point.”

If Cracraft is going to keep those coming with the Dolphins, the team may soon have to make a decision on signing him to the active roster full-time.

Cracraft has been elevated twice in two weeks from the practice squad. NFL rules in 2022 allow a team to bring a practice-squad player up three times. If they want to promote the same player again, they have to sign him to the active roster. Should the team then want to send him back to the practice squad, it would have to release him first, making him eligible to be claimed by other clubs.

“You make these decisions every week for what’s the best thing for the football team that week in the given matchups,” coach Mike McDaniel said on Friday. “If we get to that point where he’s lost all that eligibility, then we have to cross that bridge.

“I don’t get ahead of myself because that involves his play. That also involves other people’s play, so we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Beyond his ability, Cracraft, the 6-foot, 198-pound slot receiver out of Washington State, is a desirable player to have available on game days because of his familiarity with McDaniel and wide receivers coach Wes Welker over the past two seasons in San Francisco. He’s been up and down from the practice squad with the 49ers and through three prior seasons with the Denver Broncos.

“I like to pride myself as someone who’s reliable,” he said. “I like to bring that to the table, and we’ll see what happens going forward.”

Welker sees a work ethic in Cracraft he can appreciate as a fellow undrafted receiver — one who made five Pro Bowls and is a Hall of Fame nominee.

“On his off days,” Welker said, “he’s always up here, always doing extra after practice, even during the spring and all those different things. It all adds up.”

While Cracraft has been up, rookie fourth-round pick Erik Ezukanma, a training camp and preseason standout, has been a healthy inactive the first two games.

“I think he’s responded really well,” said Welker, adding the Dolphins feel they have quality players ahead of him at the position. “He’ll get there. He just needs to continue to put in the work and understand that it is a process and when he’s ready, we’ll know he’s ready.”

Phillips has ‘done some good things’

Dolphins second-year outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips has been off to a slow start statistically. He only has two tackles through two games, plus a key fumble recovery late against the New England Patriots.

While he hasn’t been around the ball much between that win and last Sunday in Baltimore, advanced metrics still say he’s playing well. …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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