The Miami Dolphins are, like every other team, holding at 75 players today. They are not practicing, the last practice was yesterday as the team is getting ready for their final pre-season game against St. Louis. That game will decide the futures of 22 players on the teams roster. Is it all dependent on that game though?
Yesterday the team trimmed their roster down to the league mandated 75 man roster and they got their by cutting some and adding three to the injured reserve list. We know that the moves were made to get to that magic number of 75 but do they give any hints of what we can expect the final 53 man roster to look like? Let’s take a look.
The first thing that stands out is the addition of Mike Gillislee to the injured reserve list. The move ends his season as he was not designated to return. Gillislee’s injury wasn’t believed to be a season ending type injury so it appears as though the Dolphins are using the tag to keep him on the roster which likely meant they didn’t feel he would make the final 53. The move also brings into focus the running back group as it pertains to the final roster.
With Knowshon Moreno now healthy and Lamar Miller still holding on to the starting job the attention turns to the back-ups who will provide depth to the team. Attention turns to Daniel Thomas, Orleans Darkwa, and Damian Williams. It appears that Williams, who has had a very good camp and an even better pre-season showing will make the final 53 and most of the local media believe that to be true as well. That leaves Thomas and Darkwa and maybe Marcus Thigpen if they designate him a running back.
Darkwa is a long shot to make the roster and that should allow Daniel Thomas to take the 4th running back position and survive another year. The move to put Gillislee on the bench for the season opens up the opportunity for Thomas to stay.
From running backs we move to tight ends where the release of both Michael Egnew and Brett Brackett were an early surprise. Brackett had shown some solid skills at the position but apparently what we saw wasn’t what the coaches saw on a daily basis. After the Dolphins placed rookie Arthur Lynch on the IR, it appeared that Brackett would make the team. Now it appears that un-drafted Gator Hoskins has a very good chance to make the final 53 man roster and contribute.
The moves leave the Dolphins with five tight-ends and one of those is Evan Wilson who I don’t see making the roster. That leaves two starters in Charles Clay and Dion Sims and two back-up options that will keep Hoskins and Kyle Miller for another season. I would speculate that the Dolphins will be looking at the waiver wire come Saturday afternoon and it’s possible that one of their tight ends could be replaced but for now the designation of one to IR and two released is a good indication that the Dolphins are confident in four of their five tight ends heading into the season.
It seems that most of the significant cuts were made on the offensive side of the ball which could point a finger at the defense when Saturday’s final cuts role around. From the tight-ends we can move outside where both Armon Binns and Ryan Spadolo were released. The move to release Spadolo doesn’t come as a surprise as much as Binns does. While it was a long shot for Binns to make the roster the move a few days early should help get a jump on the next wave of free agency.
The Dolphins now have two less wide-receivers to worry about come cut day and while the moves thin out the unit, the team will still have a tough choice to make. We already know that Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Jarvis Landry are locks for the 53 but the team could very easily keep six at the position. Last season the team kept only four and hurt them as they lost Brandon Gibson early in the year. Gibson has picked up where he left off and it’s very likely, as in around 95% that he too will make the roster.
The Dolphins currently have eight receivers on the roster and reportedly were working out another today. If the team does indeed keep six, something I believe that will happen, Matt Hazel and Kevin Cone are the likely odd men out. While both have shown flashes in pre-season there is no question that Rishard Matthews and Damien Williams have both shown more. Considering the team will not carry five tight-ends into the season it’s a possible indication that they will carry six receivers.
Of the players released or designated injured yesterday and the day before, eight are from the offensive side of the ball. Two cornerbacks were released and of course A.J. Francis was place on IR. The Dolphins also released Cory Grissom whom they had just added. The moves on defense don’t tell us a lot about what we can expect on Saturday but the Grissom release and the Francis to IR designation could be an indication that both Kamal Johnson and Anthony Johnson have a good shot at making the roster as well. It could also be an indication that Garrison Smith and Isaako Aaitui may not make the roster. For Aaitui it will be the second time in three years that he has been released on final cut day. If in fact that happens.
For the most part we really don’t know what will happen on Saturday but looking at the cuts made thus far and the other moves, we can maybe see a picture starting to develop.