After watching the first two preseason games for the Miami Dolphins… and then re-watching them… combing through Twitter, the web, and then rewatching both games yet again! Several observations about the Dolphins struck home. There are a vast number of competitions going on throughout camp right now, with a number of roster spots up for grabs that total out to about forty-six spots. While that will not fill an NFL roster (not counting IR, PUP or practice squad), this regime has done what many teams do and “churned” the bottom seven or eight spots on the roster as other teams release players, or as other needs become apparent.
Roster churn will have an effect on many players that come across as “training camp heroes”. While no one can predict whom other teams will cut or who will be of interest to the Dolphins at that point, it is safe to say that anyone who is the “bottom guy” at a position is not safe. In the below sections, there will be a breakdown of thoughts and observations around several intriguing camp battles, observations from the games thus far, and what the Dolphins might do based on the play to date. We’ll examine the offense thus far.
No breakdown would be complete without starting at the quarterback position, where Miami appears to be in good shape this season. Tannehill has shown growth and a bit more maturity, and both Moore and Devlin are above average players for their prospective seat on the depth chart.
This is the first area where it gets to be an oddity on the Dolphins roster. Lamar Miller will be the starter here for week 1, barring injury, but he only has a handful of NFL plays under his belt. Daniel Thomas has the most experience by far, but while he is second on the depth chart at the moment he could be the odd man out in a strong but inexperienced stable of running backs – and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ireland explore a possible trade for a low-round pick if not release Daniel Thomas as one of this camps final casualties. Jonas Gray and Mike Gillislee have been strong in their action thus far, showing a great deal of potential. Marcus Thigpen will make this roster as an above average returner. Thomas’s history of concussions may seal his fate. Even with the inexperience, this is one of the deeper positions on the roster.
They already attempted to replace Javorskie Lane once this offseason when V. Leach became available, but I expect him to be on the game day roster. He made some mistakes as a rookie, but overall was a solid player with a lot of promise for the Dolphins last year and I expect that he will continue to improve in his second season
Dustin Keller is a lock to make the roster, and is already developing good chemistry with Tannehill. Dion Sims has flashed enough talent as a rookie that he will be on the roster for this season, and Charles Clay will most likely get slotted in as a tight end. The intriguing thing to me is that Michael Egnew – the same Michael Egnew that looked so terrible as a rookie last season – has shown marked improvement in his second training camp. Not only is he blocking well when called upon, he’s also caught several balls thrown his way through the first two games. Keep an eye on him as the preseason progresses, but he may be one of the “surprises” to make the final roster. I definitely think the Kyle Miller experiment in Miami may finally be at an end.
The Dolphins will most likely keep five players at this position, and Wallace, Hartline and Gibson should all be considered “locks” at this point. That leaves two open spots for a bevy of hopeful candidates, and traditionally, the bottom spot here is one of the higher candidates for roster churn. McNutt looked like an all star through most of training camp, but once the game action started he became an unreliable target. Chad Bumphis has had an impressive two weeks overall, but if he doesn’t win out the fourth roster spot, he may be a candidate for the practice squad. Rishard Matthews looked impressive in his limited action towards the end of last season, but he needs to get back healthy and on the field. The competition for the bottom two spots at the position is wide open, and merits watching further as the preseason develops.
Many people are down on Jonathan Martin at left tackle, but honestly, he hasn’t done a bad job in the first two games. The starting offensive line, once John Jerry returns, looks pretty solid across the board, with Martin, Incognito, Pouncey, Jerry and Clabo. Dallas Thomas had a horrendous first game, and he is NOT a left tackle, but in game two over on the right hand side, he actually did a decent job. We have to remember, he’s a rookie and will make mistakes. Samuda stood out previously, but once he was in with the starters it became apparent that he is a quality backup. Several other players shouldn’t be a surprise to make the roster – Garner, Adams, etc. Expect this to be another candidate for roster churning in the bottom couple of spots before week one of the regulars season.
Enjoy watching Dan Carpenter while he lasts, folks. Caleb Sturgis is the FAR cheaper option here, and between the booming kickoffs, 58 yard field goal and Carpenters spells of unreliability in previous years… this shouldn’t be a competition for much longer.