With Jason Taylor Back…Who Goes?
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins have Jason Taylor already listed on the official roster as a LB. The Phins already have 13 LB’s on the roster. A couple of those names are camp guys. Maybe a practice squad player or two and nothing more. Some of those are ILB’s who will not be directly affected by the signing of JT at the outset of training camp. Still, someone could lose a roster spot because of JT’s signing.
So with Jason Taylor back in Miami, who will be left off the roster?
Cameron Wake isn’t going anywhere but he could be the reason the Phins went back to JT in the first place. A Canadian Football League superstar, Wake has spent only an afterthought in an NFL training camp, the Giants back in 2005. Wake was at the recent mini-camp, could he have shown less than what the Phins expected? Probably not. Wake is the two time current defending CFL DPOY. He needs to have pads on before he can be judged. However, could his progress at the NFL level blow off the chart with a little tutelage behind JT?
Joey Porter is another no-brainer. He led the team in sacks last year and basically was the only pass-rusher on the team. In other words a one man show who petered at the end. With JT back, opposing teams will face a dual threat from the outside if Taylor lines up opposite J-Peezy. Move JT down to DE on JP’s side and you have to wonder how an offense would stop them both.
Reggie Torbor, Channing Crowder, rookie JD Folsom, Akin Ayodele, Charlie Anderson, and William Kershaw are all ILB’s so they will have their own battles.
Matt Roth is a locker-room leader and a veteran that the players love having around. That does not matter to this regime. Roth is still a player that hits and misses on plays and has yet to develop into a 3 down OLB. To his credit, Roth has been in 3 different systems since being drafted and this is the first year that he will not have to change schemes. Still, Roth will need to step up his development as Wake will push on one side and the Dolphins need someone to step up on the other.
Tearrius George is a DE/OLB hybrid player that the Phins seem to be high on. The signing of JT puts him on the roster bubble. He didn’t see much action last season, his first with Miami and he will need to progress to make an impact on the coaches and the Eagle eye in the sky…Bill Parcells.
Quentin Moses was cut by two teams in a span of 6 weeks 2007 before joining the Dolphins. Originally a DE in college, Moses was a high-profile collegiate draftee who was praised by draft guru’s when the Oakland Raiders “stole” him with their first pick in round 3. They cut him in September, presumably by mistake during the final cuts. Arizona quickly picked him up but couldn’t make room for him on the roster and cut him a few weeks later. Moses has yet to show that he can play at the NFL level and this may be his final training camp in Miami if he can’t show something. Jason Taylor’s signing could leave Moses without a roster spot.
Erik Walden is going into his 2nd NFL season. A 6th round pick of the Cowboys in ’08, Walden was released and then immediately claimed off waivers by the Chiefs who cut him in November. The Dolphins claimed him off waivers a day later. The Phins see high-potential in Walden who is an aggressive DE/OLB hybrid better suited to the OLB position. Walden will compete for a roster spot in Miami and may win one.
The Phins are likely to carry at most 6 OLB’s but more likely 5. Jason Taylor, Cameron Wake, Joey Porter are all locks. Matt Roth has an inside track to one of the others. That leaves one spot for George, Walden, and whoever the Dolphins add to the roster between now and training camp, any of the DE’s who make a better OLB, and anyone I missed…which is always a possibility.
Looking at the roster however makes you wonder where the “progress stopper” will have an impact though. If the Phins play him at DE then it’s a bit different as the DE spot is a lot more talented with some high potential players. Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling, Roderick Wright, Orion Martin, and Lionel Dotson to name a few.
Jason will likely line up outside opposite Joey Porter with Matt Roth and Cameron Wake taking over back-up duties. It won’t really matter as Jason will not be used as a 3 down LB this year and will rotate with the one of the other two, with the remaining LB moving over with JP.
All in all, Jason Taylor won’t hinder the progress of anyone on this roster top to bottom. The team is comprised of players that have yet to reach their potentials and having a presence like JT around will do more to help their progress rather than hinder it.
Green Bay Packers, NY Jets, New England Patriots? Anyway you cut it up and spit it out, bringing Jason back to the Dolphins is a good move…and looking at the roster…fills a need as well.