DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins (6-6) have another big game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7). The game will serve as a playoff eliminator, as both teams are fighting for the final wild-card spot in the AFC.
One player who has a chance to make an impact this weekend is Miami kick returner Marcus Thigpen. He has 864 total return yards this season. Miami and Pittsburgh could be a close game, and special teams could make a difference.
ESPN.com’s Dolphins team page caught up with Thigpen to get his thoughts on Sunday’s game and the art of returning kicks.
James Walker: Marcus, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 this week for getting in the way of Baltimore Ravens returner Jacoby Jones. As Miami’s kick returner, how would you have handled that situation?
Marcus Thigpen: I’ve heard about it, but I haven’t seen it. I don’t know. That’s a tough situation right there. I wouldn’t even know what to do if I was in that situation. I would try my hardest not to pay attention to it and just try to keep straight. That’s unfortunate that it happened. I wouldn’t know what to do in that situation.
Walker: You’ve run long kickoffs and punts back before. What do you look for while you’re running?
Thigpen: When you first break that first wave, you start looking to where everybody is to see where guys pursue. Then, you start to look at the Jumbotron to see where guys are coming from and try to veer off either way. Then, you just run as fast as you can.
Walker: How do you know if an opponent is 1 yard behind you, 5 yards behind you, etc.?
Thigpen: You can see it on the Jumbotron. You can feel it. You can hear it from the fans. The fans kind of tell you, too. If you hear them getting louder, you feel ‘OK, he must be getting closer or I’m pulling away. It’s gotta to be something.’ But you can hear footsteps, too. You can hear dudes breathing on you and coming up on you. It’s a combination of things.