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A closer look: Dedrick Epps

Posted Jun 2, 2010

Rookie tight end hopes to parlay a consistent overall game into NFL roster spot.


SAN DIEGO – One quarter and one nickel are the same as three dimes.

A half-court swish counts for the same three points as an accidental bank shot from two inches behind the line.

Whether you chug three bottles of water at lunch or sip them throughout the day, you consume 60 ounces.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and a bunch of parts can add up.

Seventh-round draft pick Dedrick Epps counts on those principles as he seeks to prove his worth as an NFL tight end.

The versatile rookie got a reputation at the University of Miami for being good, not great, at a lot of things. Not overwhelmingly powerful, the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder showed a willingness to block and handled defensive ends effectively. Epps won’t challenge Chris Johnson in a foot race but raced up the seam past linebackers if they were not careful. He didn’t make every catch, but he made some remarkable ones in traffic.

He lined up in the backfield, outside the tackle and split out wide.

“I just try to bring a lot to the table and whatever they want me to do I try to do it to the best of my ability,” Epps said. “I give 100 percent effort on every play. If I make a mistake I’m going to go 110 percent.”

San Diego asks its tight ends to handle multiple responsibilities, and Epps is fine with that.

“The offense is more complex here. In college, I did a lot, but they want more at this level,” he said. “I’m willing to endure that. It’s nothing. You just have to make the adjustment and roll with it.

“It’s a load, but you just want to take it in. Try to learn as much as you can on the fly, then when you go out there, just try to remember it all. It’s a lot to learn, but once I get it done it’ll be alright.”

Epps wouldn’t be the first Miami tight end to succeed in the NFL. The list of Hurricanes that currently populate the league includes Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Greg Olsen. Jimmy Graham, drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the third round, was Epps’ college teammate. Even Chargers tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski played the position for Miami.

He envisions himself as another part of the dangerous arsenal that Philip Rivers deploys.

“I just want to line up anywhere and be a threat, you know?” he said when asked to imagine the player he wants to become.

“The defense is always focusing on where I am. Then they have to worry about the other threats that are on the team also. The more of a threat I can bring to the table for the opponent, that helps our offense. With the other threats that we have, we come together as a whole unit and then we’re unstoppable.”

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