Improbable path to celebrity for Dolphins' safety

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 17, 2013
Among all of the Miami Dolphins, idle tackle Jonathan Martin knows the team's new celebrity safety the best, because they played together in college. So when Michael Thomas made a game-winning interception in his NFL debut and found himself mobbed by teammates who didn't even know his name, Martin was quick to send a congratulatory text message, coast to coast and Stanford alum to Stanford alum. ''That means a lot,'' Thomas said Tuesday. ''Jonathan was one of my best friends at Stanford. I looked up to Jon.'' Thomas said Martin's still rooting for Miami, despite his allegations of daily harassment by teammates that prompted him to leave the team in October. The bullying scandal threatened to sabotage the season, but instead the Dolphins (8-6) have gone 5-2 since Martin went home to California, and they'll clinch a wild-card playoff berth if they win their final two games. Low on star power, the Dolphins are winning thanks to a broad cross-section of contributors, none more improbable than Thomas. ''Michael Thomas, the new superstar,'' coach Joe Philbin said Tuesday. Undrafted out of college, Thomas joined the Dolphins last week when they signed him off the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad, where he had spent the past two seasons. Once in town, he worked with Miami's scout squad but didn't practice with the defense, and was expected to play only on special teams Sunday against the New England Patriots. But when cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Nolan Carroll left the game with injuries, nickel back Jimmy Wilson switched to corner, and Thomas found himself in the game at safety with four minutes left. He had to borrow gloves from receiver Mike Wallace. ''You try to give to the needy,'' Wallace said with a laugh. In the final minute, with Miami leading 24-20, Tom Brady tried to pull off the Patriots' fourth consecutive comeback victory, and a completion gave them a first down at the Dolphins' 19 with 27 seconds to go. Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle consulted frantically with assistant coach Blue Adams, who had tutored Thomas, to find out what coverages the newcomer would be comfortable with. ''Blue is behind me in the press box and I kept asking him, `Does he know this? What things can we do?''' Coyle said with a laugh. ''I started calling out things that I was thinking about, and Blue had a lot of confidence that Michael knew everything. He said, `Oh, he can do that.' I'm like, `Blue, he has only been here two days.' But he goes, `No, no, we've been over all of that. We got it. We got it. He's smart.''' The Dolphins twice called timeout during the final series of downs to make sure Thomas and the rest of the patchwork secondary understood the call. Brady threw for the end zone on first down, but Thomas leaped and swatted the ball out of Danny Amendola's grasp. After two more incompletions, Brady threw Thomas' way again on fourth down, and he jumped again to intercept a pass intended for Austin Collie. Thomas fell to his back, still clutching the ball as he looked to the sky. Soon he was in tears. ''I thought about all the hardships I had been through to try to get to this one moment,'' he said. ''Later, when I talked to my mom, it was really emotional. She had prayed for me all the time and told me, `Keep the faith. Keep working. You'll get your shot. When you get it, take advantage.' For it to actually happen was great. The whole family was crying.'' Grimes and Carroll returned to practice Tuesday, so Thomas might be relegated to special teams Sunday at Buffalo. Even so, the Dolphins newcomer is hoping he has finally found a home in the NFL. ''I moved into an apartment Monday to celebrate our victory,'' he said with a grin. ''So I'm here for at least another week.'' --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL --- Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration

Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

McCarthy discusses 'urgency’ to win another title with Rodgers

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal

Adam Jones: Bengals dominated Steelers in playoff game

Storyline from 'Ballers' plays out in Cowboys preseason camp

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker