Final Weekend Battles Play Out Vs. New Orleans


The Miami Dolphins have most of their camp battles finished up and the starters will get some time in early before calling it an early night and standing on the sidelines.  A last bit of rest before the team pares down to 53 this weekend and begin their prep for the Atlanta Falcons.  That does not mean that a few battles don’t still remain as the team heads to New Orleans in search of the answers.

WR:  Patrick Turneris all but invisible these days.  The early surprise of training camp quickly faded and the realization that he needs far more development doesn’t sit well with some.  With Turner out of the battle picture (but secure on the final 53) the eyes turn to the 3 competing for the number 2 spot.  Greg Camarillo, Brian Hartline, and Davone Bess.

Greg Camarillo despite his 3rd team listing most of training camp is the odds on favorite to open the season number 2.  He has displayed no ill effects of the knee injury that sidelined him last season and entering the NO game, he is practicing as the number 1, hopping over Bess and Hartline.  He has the most experience of the 3 and is a favorite of Chad Pennington.  That goes a long way. 

Davone Besswill be the slot receiver to open the season.  While Bess has disappointed a bit in terms of fighting for the number 1 slot, there is no doubting his ability to get open and his hands are as good as anyone’s on the team.  He will likely stay in the slot until he proves a better option outside than Camarillo.  He will have to fight of Hartline as Camarillo’s primary back-up though.

Brian Hartlineis only lacking consistency and time in game.  Unlike Pat Turner, he will get his share of opportunities to get on the field.  Hartline doesn’t quit and fights his way into his routes when necessary.  Thus far no one gets the better of him from the corner spots.  As Hartline has done enough to show that he belongs on the team, he still lacks the experience to go into the season as the starter.  He will spell Camarillo on the outside to keep Greg’s knee from swelling, something that so far has not been an issue.

TE:  With the Dolphins looking to keep 3 TE’s the question is who will get moved to the practice squad?  John Nalbone isn’t ready to become a contributor yet in the offense but has too much potential to possibly risk putting on the PS.  Joey Haynos isn’t eligible so that means of the TE’s, Nalbone is the only option. 

The Phins could elect to shed the contract of David Martin who is entering the final year of his deal but is Haynos ready to contribute in the Phins 2 TE sets that they like to employ.  The TE spot could yield an interesting battle worth watching this week.

RB:  The question here is simple.  Is Lex Hilliard going to make the roster?  With the Phins set with Brown, Williams, and Cobbs, Hilliard has been taking snaps as the back-up FB to Lousaka Polite and the team may give him some of Polites carries to see how he can handle the FB duties.  The Phins may opt to keep Hilliard as FB and thus use the roster spot there and trim from somewhere else.  How Hilliard performs this week will go a long way in securing his future with the team.  The Phins would be playing a risky game by putting him on the practice squad.

OL:  Most of the battles are over with and now it comes down to who will stick it out as the teams depth players.  Brandon Frye is versatile enough to play up and down the line skipping the center spot.  His erratic play however is getting QB’s hit and that won’t play with Tony Sparano.  The back-up lineman should get plenty of playing time this week to show who has what it takes and with Tony Sparano the HC, it’s likely those depth spots are not filled in his mind yet.

Moving over to the defensive side of the ball, LB has the most intrigue because the battles have Erik Walden, William Kershaw, and Cameron Wake fighting for what could be one or two spots.  Wake who has the bigger money investment by the team will not be given a slide simply because of it.  Matt Roth who is likely headed to the PUP list could provide one of these guys with a 6 week reprieve as he won’t count a roster spot if he is put on the list.  Keep an eye on Wake as he is really starting to get some of his pass rushing moves down, but he still needs to prove he can drop back into coverage.

The DLisn’t offering much in the way of final week competition as Paul Soliai seems primed to keep his job behind Jason Ferguson as he continues to improve.  The battles will be at DE where Tony McDaniel and his upside are on the verge of looking for another team.  While McD stands a good chance of making the roster he still needs to improve, something he hasn’t done since week 1 of the PS.

While most will begin to look ahead to the first weeks game against Atlanta, it’s important to the team and a number of players to not look past New Orleans.  Come Saturday, the 53 man roster will take shape and a day later the 8 man practice squad will be filled.  It begins with how these guys perform against N.O.  It’s also why the Phins made as many early cuts prior to the deadlines.  So these guys can all get the work they needed to compete this week.