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Tony Sparano compares Andre Holmes to Brandon Marshall

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Ezra Shaw

Here we go with the comparisons to great players. So far it has been Dennis Allen comparing Khalil Mack to Von Miller and Reggie McKenzie comparing Mack to Clay Mathews, and Allen comparing Matt Schaub to Kurt Warner. Now Tony Sparano is comparing Andre Holmes to Brandon Marshall.

"I like [Andre Holmes] to be that kind of guy that creates some of the big plays for us because he's a big-bodied guy," said Sparano. "In my time (as head coach in Miami) in my previous life there, Brandon Marshall was a guy that was a big-bodied guy that would go up and front the ball up and kind of climb up the back of defensive backs and do those things and you like to have those kind of players. The catches that he's made since he's been here, which is really been since I've been here, have been those kind of catches, contested catches, down the field,  ball is in the air and he's jumping over somebody, he's making the really hard catch. So, that's been good to see and it's a comfort for the quarterback when he feels like he can throw it that way and that guy is going to come down with it."

It is true, Holmes has shown those kind of abilities since the former unknown burst onto the scene as a starter late last season. Last week he led the Raiders with 121 yards and two touchdowns on four catches.

But what he has also shown is a penchant for dropping easy targets including two such drops last week. Sparano points to Holmes' youth and inexperience for those mistakes. A valid point considering prior to last season, the fourth-year receiver had seen just two targets in his NFL career.

"I think sometimes in short areas for young players, when the ball gets on them fast, that takes a little bit more work sometimes in those situations, where a guy like James [Jones] in a small area, like the touchdown catch the other day, in a small area, small window, he knows how to use his body, he knows how to get his head around and his hands, so those things happen a little more natural for him. So, that's something that I know Andre is working on right now. He spends an awful lot of time out there on the jugs and doing those type of things, trying to catch those kind of balls. He spends a lot of time at it, works hard."

Probably the most interesting thing about the comparison to Marshall as a receiver IS the dropped passes. The All Pro receiver and five-time Pro Bowler may be considered one of the most dangerous receivers in the league, but he is also routinely is among the league leaders in dropped balls.

Since he became a fulltime starter in 2007, Marshall has been in the top three in dropped passes in all but one of those seasons and twice led the league in dropped passes. His teams simply put up with it because his ability to make tough catches along with his abilities after the catch far outweigh his nearly one drop per game average.

The two are of similar stature as well. At 6-5, 210 pounds, Holmes is an inch taller but more slight than the 6-4, 229-pound Marshall. But any NFL receiver over 6-3 is considered to have great size.

So, it would seem the comparison is actually not too far off. At least not from a potential standpoint.