It’s not an easy task and unless you are the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, chances are you will be wrong somewhere in your prediction for the teams final 53. The Dolphins will enter tonight’s game against the Buccaneers working their starters far more than the last two games. It’s the warm-up before the season kicks off September 11th.
Teams will begin paring down their rosters from as many as 90 players this week and next. The Dolphins have already cut three yesterday. It would be a little too much information to digest if I presented the entire roster to you considering their is 82 playes on the roster after the three man cut yesterday. So instead, we will go position by position and gauge who may or may not be wearing the “Aqua & Orange” this season.
Today, we take a look at the running backs.
Reggie Bush – The Dolphins didn’t simply trade for him to warm the bench. They needed speed and ability to create mismatches in the passing game. What they got was a guy who has stayed up to two hours after practices have ended to continually work out on his own. Bush wants to be an every down back and is trying painfully to let HC Tony Sparano know that he can do it. Last week, he took the first team snaps and the ball up the gut in an impressive Miami Dolphins debut. He currently is the starting tailback.
Daniel Thomas – Thomas has been a disappointment thus far in training camp. He is dancing behind the line in practice and has struggled to hit the holes. He has also bee reprimanded by two coaches for not running full speed in practice.
“I think it’s a lousy indicator for the offensive line when a runner takes a play and he’s going at one speed and they’re going at another speed,” Sparano said. “It makes them think they have to hold these blocks a lot longer than they have to hold them, and it makes him think the hole is going to be there longer than it really is.”
Thomas is a high investment for the Dolphins and he showed some signs of what he can do last week. The question is can he continue it.
Charles Clay – The Dolphins like what they have seen so far from their 6th rounder. He is versatile in that he can play RB, FB, or TE which ups his value to the team over Lousaka Polite. His downside is simply that he is a rookie and needs to improve his techniques. His blocking assignments need work and the team isn’t pushing the TE spot down his brain just yet. This week, Clay saw some time with the Dolphins first team unit. An ominous sign for Lousaka Polite.
Not quite safe:
Larry Johnson - Johnson has just joined the team but the Dolphins may be intent on keeping him depending on what he can show in the last two pre-season games. Tony Sparano has said that Johnson will play tonight. Johnson is one of those guys that may show up and have some life left in him or fail to make an impression and thus finding himself released when teams trim down to the final 53.
Lex Hilliard – The Dolphins like Hilliard but he has yet to be able to showcase what he has. He vowed to be a major competitor for the starting job after the team drafted Thomas. He has yet to show enough to warrant that leap. He did however take over for a twice failed attempt by Thomas to score from 1 yard out last week. He did it on his second attempt. Hilliard however is not a lock to make the team. The Dolphins are likely going to carry one FB and 3 RB’s and if the do that, Hilliard or Johnson will be gone.
Likely to be gone:
Lousaka Polite – Unfortunately the sound of “Louuuu” will not likely resonate from the Sun-Life Stadium stands any longer. After a less than spectacular 2010 in his blocking role, Polite is likely to be replaced by Charles Clay. The team could potentially keep both FB’s but should they choose that route, it would likely only be temporary until Clay picked up the speed of the game. Polite has been a fan favorite for his can’t miss 3rd and 4th down runs for short yardage first downs. It’s a move that won’t sit well with many fans but one that likely needs to be done unless he can considerably improve his blocking. But it may be too late for the short term.
Nicolas Grigsby – Grigsby has shown a little here and there against the deeper depth of the opposition. He won’t get the opportunity to see time with the starters. The roster is simply too full for Grigsby to make an impact as a rookie and the team likely will not try and stash him on the practice squad unless they determine his value is that much better than any other position who is fielding talent waiting to blossom.