Miami Dolphins rookie TE Durham Smythe: “It’s time to accelerate things.”


When Durham Smythe was told veteran tight end MarQueis Gray was going to be out for the season with an Achilles injury, he felt terrible.

Then he heard the next message loud and clear.

“They said everyone was going to have to step up,” Smythe, the rookie from Notre Dame, said Thursday. “I took that as it was implied that the role was always important, but now it’s time to accelerate things a little bit.”

Smythe was drafted by Miami in the fourth round because of his blocking prowess. Dolphins tight ends Mike Gesicki, A.J. Derby and Gavin Escobar are known more for their pass-catching abilities.

Smythe is going to have to be ready to play, in-line, this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. And the Dolphins will need to trust he’s ready.

“I think all along it’s been prepare like you’re going to start Week 1,” Smythe said. “That’s how I’ve approached things here. As far as being ready and game plan and things like that, I’m confident. Just keep moving forward.”

Coach Adam Gase stressed again on Thursday that Smythe is a better receiver than advertised. It will be important for Miami to mix things up, so the opponent doesn’t overload against the run every time Smythe is on the field.

“We drafted two tight ends and have high expectations for those guys,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said Thursday.

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Smythe has been training at the exact position Gray plays. While it may not be ideal to trot out two rookie tight ends regularly at the start of this NFL season, Smythe has been paying close attention all spring and summer. Gray is a trusted veteran in the locker room, and a trusted blocker on the field. 

“First and foremost, just being a professional,” Smythe said of what he’s learned from Gray. “He goes about his business in such a professional way, on the field and off the field. He takes care of his body so well. Eats so well. On the field, he’s a calm presence. And that’s kind of how I try to play, too. So he’s been a real role model for me.”

In what ways has Smythe studied Gray’s blocking tactics?

“When he’s taking a rep it’s a rep I’ll see later,” Smythe said. “So it’s little things like how fast he gets off the ball. Hand placement. The general techniques of run blocking in the NFL. And he’s done it successfully for six years now. So he’s a great guy to watch from.”

Miami is going to need the rookie Gesicki to emerge as a feared pass catching threat, especially on third downs and in the red zone.

Suddenly, the Dolphins need the rookie Smythe to live up to his billing as a strong blocker, especially in the two- and three-tight end sets Gase likes to use. Smythe will also be a valued special teamer.

The Dolphins doubled down on tight ends in the last NFL Draft, selecting a Penn Stater and a Golden Domer who have become roommates and fast friends in the first four rounds.

“We have reflected a few times,” Smythe said. “We were on the same Senior Bowl team, got to know each other there. Hung out at the combine a lot. We’ve talked about how if we take care of business, we can be here for a little while, too.”

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