15 Most Important Dolphins for 2013: #12 Marcus Thigpen

While he played virtually none on either offense or defense, the Miami Dolphins had a real weapon last season in returner Marcus Thigpen. Thigpen scored the first touchdown of 2012 for Miami, a 72-yard punt return against the Houston Texans in the season opener. Thigpen has made an effort this offseason to work himself into the rotation on offense, but whether he spends much time in the huddle or not, Thigpen remains a play-maker for Miami and will be one of the more important Dolphins in 2013.

Marcus Thigpen became the first Dolphin ever to return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in the same season in 2012. (Photo: Sun Sentinel)
Last season, Thigpen ranked fifth in the NFL in kickoff return average and fourth when it came to punt return average. Thigpen was one of only five players in the league last season to return both a kickoff and a punt for a score, while becoming the first Miami Dolphin ever to do both in the same season.

While his touches were limited and may be so again in 2013, Thigpen is one of the few guys on the Miami roster with the ability to take it to the end zone every time he touches the ball.

Undrafted out of Indiana, Thigpen finally made his NFL regular season debut last season. Thigpen spent some time in the CFL, but his perseverance to finally land himself a spot on a regular season roster after being waived by both Philadelphia and Denver earlier in his career says something about him.

Thigpen had just one carry and one reception last year for the Dolphins, so anything Miami gets offensively out of him will be a bonus. But, his abilities in the kicking game really make Thigpen a game-changer and that was quite evident last season.

Despite being limited to just a return role, only Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Anthony Fasano scored more touchdowns than Thigpen last year for Miami. And though he's tied with Ryan Tannehill, Jorvorskie Lane and Charles Clay, Thigpen is Miami's second leading returning touchdown scorer from a season ago.

With the exception of Ted Ginn Jr., the Miami Dolphins have traditionally lacked a game-breaker on special teams, but not anymore. Before Thigpen's 96-yard kickoff return for a score against Buffalo in November, no Miami Dolphin had returned a kickoff for a touchdown since Ginn in 2009. For some years, 2010 comes to mind, the Dolphins were downright dreadful in the kicking game, but thanks largely to Thigpen, those days seem long gone.

If Thigpen can find a role on Miami's offense, he could, without a doubt, be just as dangerous as in the kicking game, but either way, Thigpen is one of the more explosive Miami Dolphins and could really help decide a few contests in 2013. Not only should Thigpen be one of the more important Dolphins for 2013, he has a very good chance to be Miami's best kick returner ever.

Mike Ferguson is a staff writer at Dolphin Shout and the founder and editor of Outside the Redzone. Like Outside the Redzone on Facebook!