Nine months ago, the Dolphins made headlines by draping Ryan Tannehill with a rich selection of expensive weapons in the passing game. Mike Wallace was signed to flip the switch deep, and tight end Dustin Keller was imported as the ultimate safety blanket for Miami's second-year pro quarterback.
After catching 34 passes over his first two seasons as a minor piece of the pie on offense, Clay has turned it on this season, hauling in 60 receptions for 678 yards and six scores. One of those touchdowns -- a rugged, 12-yard grab in Sunday's 34-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers -- kept Miami's postseason hopes afloat. Check it out:
That's Clay in a nutshell. Good hands and vision, elusive on the ground and tough to bring down.
Clay led all Dolphins with seven catches for 97 yards and two scores in a Pennsylvania snowstorm. In an outing that included just 19 receiving yards for Wallace, it was Clay who found holes in the Steelers' defense and mined for extra yardage. It continued a trend that's seen Clay outgain Wallace in six games this season.
Time spent with Game Rewind reveals a player who's been doing this all season. Clay, the former sixth-round pick, drafted as a fullback/TE hybrid, has caught three or more passes in every game but one. He's not an elite blocker, but his 331 yards after the catch rank second to just Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates. He's fifth among all tight ends in targets, receptions and receiving yardage, and only Martellus Bennett has generated more missed tackles than Clay's 14, per Pro Football Focus.
The loss of Keller was deemed a disaster for Miami and its young quarterback, but Clay has surprised the Dolphins with one of 2013's most underrated campaigns. It isn't over yet.
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