Cedrick Wilson looking to get more involved in Dolphins' offense after slow start

MIAMI GARDENS — Cedrick Wilson Jr. signed into a very different situation than the one he’s currently living in.

Just six days after signing Wilson to a three-year, $22 million contract on March 17, the Dolphins traded for star receiver Tyreek Hill. It was a deal that drastically changed not only the team’s outlook but Wilson’s season as well.

“My situation really didn’t really change mentally, as far as I need to prepare, be ready to go and stuff like that,” Wilson said ahead of Wednesday’s practice. “Only thing that changes is me not being in the game.”

After playing the third-most offensive snaps of any wide receiver in Week 1, behind only Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Wilson’s snap percentage has steadily decreased. In Sunday’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wilson played four offensive snaps, his lowest total of the season.

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In recent weeks, it seems as though Trent Sherfield, another receiver in his first season in Miami, has taken over the third receiver role. After playing 43% of the offensive snaps with the Cowboys in 2021, Wilson has played less than half that with the Dolphins, just 20%.

Injuries have played a role in Wilson’s frustrating slow start. He suffered a rib injury against the Ravens in Week 2.

Dolphins receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. (11) runs onto the field prior to Sunday night's game against the Steelers, but he would end up playing only four snaps during Miami's 16-10 victory.
Dolphins receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. (11) runs onto the field prior to Sunday night's game against the Steelers, but he would end up playing only four snaps during Miami's 16-10 victory.

“Injuries are always frustrating because they slow down not only the planning process or the preparation process but just overall,” Wilson said.

Wilson hasn’t been involved in all of Miami’s offensive packages. When asked about Miami's struggles on third downs, Wilson replied: “Yeah, I mean, I don’t know, I’m not out there. So, I can’t really speak on what we need to do on third down.”

The lack of playing time isn’t because of anything Wilson has not done or executed, according to coach Mike McDaniel.

“He’s getting better and better every week and will continue to become more and more featured within our offense,” McDaniel said of Wilson. “But it's not about what he hasn’t done and more about what a guy like Trent Sherfield has done.

“I’m comfortable with where [Wilson] is at in working on his game and should expect to see more from him. I’m expecting that and I think he’s expecting that as the season progresses.”

Part of the issue has perhaps been the learning curve Wilson has had to go through with a new offense. As part of the outside-zone running scheme, receivers are required to block more than in other systems.

Wilson is currently the lowest-graded blocking receiver, per Pro Football Focus. However, as he continues acclimating to his role and the scheme, more opportunities could be coming.

“I think Ced has made a lot of strides in the past weeks, and I see him getting a lot more playing time and getting some touches going forward,” receivers coach Wes Welker said ahead of the Steelers game. “But it’s always a process, especially anybody new coming into the system and learning the system and all those different things.”

Wilson may get shot at returning punts

One of the ways Miami is looking to get Wilson more involved is in the return game. He was back to receive several punts against the Steelers, though had just one return and called for fair catch on a couple of others. Even though it wasn’t something that he did too often while in Dallas, Wilson believes that his skill set could definitely help to contribute to that phase moving forward.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve been the best punt returner but I definitely can catch punts just because I can catch the ball, period,” Wilson said. “Just good hands catches are going to get the offense back the ball.”

Although his role has been steadily decreasing, Wilson has remained committed to his preparation and professionalism, whether he’s playing four snaps or 47. No matter the situation, he wants to keep it that way because he always has his eye on the bigger picture.

“It’s my job, it’s how I feed my family,” Wilson said. “So, if I come in here, just because I’m not playing, and look terrible, then I’m not gonna be able to feed my family. So, as long as I come here, do what I’m supposed to do and the checks keep clearing, then I’m good.”

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Cedrick Wilson back seat to Tyreek Hill on Miami Dolphins receiver list