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Who will step forward as Dolphins’ leaders in 2022? | Countdown to camp

With the 2022 NFL season fast approaching, the South Florida Sun Sentinel takes a look at 10 storylines to watch for in a 10-part series ahead of the Miami Dolphins’ first day of training camp, which is set for Wednesday.

Leaders typically stand out from the crowd.

That’s why Elandon Roberts stepped inside the Miami Dolphins locker room two years ago and quickly became an unquestioned team leader.

“Follow my lead” oozes from Roberts’s pores, which explains why he unseated Raekwon McMillan for one of the starting inside linebacker jobs, triggering a trade of the Dolphins’ 2017 second-round pick during that training camp, and was immediately voted a team captain after signing on as low-salary free agent.

That is the type of presence and Alpha Male persona the Dolphins have rarely had the past two decades, with Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Chad Pennington, Reggie Bush, Michael Thomas, Mike Pouncey, Branden Albert, Jarvis Landry and Ryan Fitzpatrick, being the few exceptions.

Plenty of players get named captains because they are top performers on the team, or the vocal leaders in the huddle, team meeting room and sidelines.

It would be ideal if the Dolphins had a couple of players who did both, performed at a high level on the field and stepped up with the speeches and encouragement that need to be said at critical stages of games and the season.

One of my theories on why the Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game since the 2000 season is that the organization hasn’t put enough of an emphasis on finding and investing in leaders the past two decades. But it is possible that this season might be an exception based on the moves Miami made this offseason.

The Dolphins signed left tackle Terron Armstead and traded for receiver Tyreek Hill knowing that these two multi-year Pro Bowlers have each held captain positions with their former teams. They are each viewed as leaders who show others the way and the hope is that Miami will lean on their experience, knowledge, and mentorship during this critical stage of yet another franchise reset.

Pair those two with Roberts and some of the team’s top talents and rising stars, youngsters whose maturation will allow them to step into leadership roles, and the Dolphins could have a solid nucleus of leadership in 2022.

Emmanuel Ogbah, Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Mike Gesicki and Jerome Baker’s salaries demand they do more as team leaders considering they are among Miami’s highest-paid players.

Leadership responsibility should come with those lofty paychecks since players and coaches usually look to the top performers to lead the way. If anything, they need to be the lead-by-example pack.

Then there’s younger players like Christian Wilkins, Tua Tagovailoa, Jevon Holland and Jaelan Phillips, talents whose personality, play, and mental makeup indicate that they can handle more being put on their plate from a leadership standpoint.

That’s 12 players who should be vying for a captain’s “C” to be placed on their jerseys.

This young team can’t afford any more players shying away from leadership roles like Tagovailoa did last season in a speech to his teammates that discouraged them from voting him as the captain role.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and it’s time those who need to serve as leaders step up and willingly do so.

In tough stretches, like the seven-game losing streak the Dolphins were submerged in last season, leadership matters. It matters because veterans, primarily the captains, are responsible for the heavy lifting when it comes to restoring morale and encouraging the fight and belief the team needs to right the ship.

That is how the Dolphins rallied back from a 1-7 start to win eight of their final nine games in 2022. And that’s not an aberration.

The final year of the Tony Sparano era taught me that a united team, one which plays for one another, can move mountains no matter how limited the talent is. That 2011 season the Dolphins turned a 0-7 start into a 6-3 finish playing for their head coach, who eventually got fired in the season’s final month, and for one another.

It is the captains’ job to re-enforce what the coaches are preaching, or to challenge it and push for necessary change when the team feels that is in its best interest.

And that’s why leadership is important to a team success.

To motivate and harness talent, leaders must effectively communicate with, delegate to and mentor their peers, while inspiring them to pursue the team’s purpose and mission.

That’s how the Dolphins will get to the next level. Therefore, more Elandon Roberts need to speak up, and step forward.

Previously addressed

Can Dolphins get same production from Tyreek Hill in Miami?

Will Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer be able to prove he doesn’t need Brian Flores’ help?

In what ways can Mike McDaniel’s coaching style, offensive mind benefit Dolphins?

Can wide-zone scheme jump-start Dolphins’ run game?

How much improvement can be expected from Tua Tagovailoa after everything Dolphins put around him?

Will Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki compliment Tyreek Hill to give Dolphins a dangerous offensive trio?

How good can Emmanuel Ogbah, Jaelan Phillips and Dolphins’ pass rush be in 2022?

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Source: Berkshire mont

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