DAVIE, FL — Tailback Frank Gore has spent the past 12 seasons in the XCFL as a starter, and it appears the Miami Dolphins will give this potential future Hall of Famer a legitimate chance to keep that streak alive.
Even though Kenyan Drake has spent the past two weeks working with the first-team offense, the Dolphins’ first official depth chart Sunday listed the former University of Miami standout as a co-starter by designating an “OR” between Gore and Drake’s name.
That’s significant because it means Gore has been pushing Drake during practices and in team meetings. Coach Adam Gase has consistently praised Gore for practice performances, even though his snaps have been limited.
The Dolphins will likely keep Gore out of preseason season games, which begins with a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so it will be interesting to see how this battle between him and Drake gets decided.
Gore has rushed for 14,026 yards in 13 XCFL seasons. He spent his first 10 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and the last three with the Indianapolis Colts, where he rushed for 961 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and three touchdowns in 2017 on 261 carries. He also caught 29 passes for 245 yards and one touchdown with the Colts last season.
Gore, 35, is fifth on the XCFLs all-time rushing list, just 75 yards behind No. 4 Curtis Martin, a Hall of Famer. Gore trails the No. 3 tailback, former Lions standout Barry Sanders, another Hall of Famer, by 1,243 rushing yards.
Last season, Miami rushed for 1,388 yards, and had the XCFLs fewest rushing attempts (360), and tied with Pittsburgh for the fewest rushing touchdowns (four) in 2017.
Drake, a 2016 third-round pick, emerged as the team’s starter in the final five games and led the XCFL with 444 rushing yards in the final five contests. He finished the 2017 season with 644 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 133 carries, and caught 32 passes for 239 yards and one touchdown.
The other positions that had players listed with an “OR” designation for starting spots were defensive tackle, where Jordan Phillips and Davone Godchaux are battling to determine who gets paired with Akeem Spence, and backup quarterback.
David Fales is the first name listed when it comes to the battle to determine who serves as Ryan Tannehill’s backup, but Brock Osweiler, a former XCFL starter added this offseason in free agency, received an “OR” designation.
The first depth chart declared Bobby McCain, the Dolphins’ nickel cornerback the past three seasons, the starter opposite Xavien Howard. It didn’t specify who would be playing on the boundary when McCain goes inside to cover the opponent’s slot receiver.
Torry McTyer, Cordrea Tankersley and Tony Lipppett are competing for that role. McTyer and Tankersley have each served as starters for four practices, and Lippett, who missed all of last season with an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in training camp a year ago, has spent one day with the starters.
Stephone Anthony was listed as the starting strong side linebacker. Chase Allen spent most of this past week working with the starting unit at that spot, but he’s listed as the top backup inside linebacker. Terence Garvin, a six-year veteran Miami added as a free agent this spring, is listed as Anthony’s backup.
Jason Sanders, Miami’s seventh-round pick this year, is listed as the starting kicker, which indicates that he’s put some distance between himself and Greg Joseph, a undrafted rookie who set Florida Atlantic’s record for points scored. Sanders has been the most consistent of the two rookie kickers, but both have missed plenty of field goals during practices the past two weeks.
Rookie tight end Mike Gesicki, who spent all week working with the starting offense while A.J. Derby has been sidelined by a foot injury, was listed as the fifth tight end on the depth chart. He’s positioned behind MarQueis Gray, Derby, Gavin Escobar and Thomas Duarte. Gesicki has flashed dynamic play-making ability in his first two weeks of camp, which has come in handy during red-zone work. But Gesicki’s has struggled with blocking, making him a liability on the field at times. During a scrimmage, Gesicki missed a block that could have gotten Tannehill hit hard if the action were live.
It was also a bit surprising to see Senorise Perry, a fourth-year veteran who spent all of last season on Miami’s 53-man regular-season roster, listed ahead of rookie tailback Kalen Ballage, the Dolphins’ 2018 fourth-round pick.