Final Miami Dolphins Pre-Season Game: What To Watch?


The Miami Dolphins along with every other NFL team will make their final roster cuts on Saturday.  With this past Tuesday serving as the cut down day for the NFL to 80 players, Saturday is going to put an awful lot of football players on the unemployment line.  Consider that if all teams currently have 80 players on their roster, 864 players will be released between now and Saturday night.

That’s a lot of people folks.

So tomorrow nights’ game between the Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys will serve more purpose than a reuniting of Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland with their former employer.  It’s the final audition for the bottom half of the roster.

For the Dolphins, there are 27 spots that must be trimmed between now and Saturday.  Of those, it’s likely that 10 are seriously close to making the roster and the decision will come down to them versus the 10 players who will actually make the roster.  Regardless of performance tonight, 17 players already are done in Miami after this game and are now auditioning for the other 31 teams.

So what will you look for in the final pre-season game?  I can tell you what I will be watching for.

Number 5:  Clyde Gates – Gates is a lock to make the team there is no question about it.  But I want to really see his speed on the field.  First team players shouldn’t see much action tonight so Brian Hartline, Brandon Marshall, and Davone Bess will eat hot-dogs on the sidelines (I kid) while Gates, Roberto Wallace, and Marlon Moore battle it out for the team.  It’s likely that either Moore or Wallace will be gone by Sunday.

Number 4:  The playing time of Phillip Merling.  Merling has been rumored to be on the trade block…RUMORED…I want to see how much game time he gets.  I’m surprised that the Dolphins haven’t already traded him for say an offensive lineman.  The team needs to fix the Oline and the DE/DT spot for the team is one of, if not “the”, deepest in the league.  If Merling plays early and takes an exit it would lead me to believe they do not want him to get injured and that the trade rumors may indeed be true, if they play him deep into the game, I might assume (which I hate to do) that they are content with keeping him.

Number 3:  Daniel Thomas needs to step up his game.  Maybe playing against back-ups will get him used to being hit.  Tony Sparano said earlier that Reggie Bush would be the featured back…for the foreseeable future.  The Dolphins still need to get Thomas up to the NFL standard if they want long term success.  Larry Johnson will be fun to watch as well and I want to see how he handles the goal line situations.  With Larry Johnson on board and no contract guarantee the Dolphins will have to make a decision between he and Lex Hilliard.

Number 2:  Lousaka Polite had a horrible game last week and it begs the question as to whether or not he will be on the team next week?  Charles Clay should get plenty of work in tonight and his play could send Polite to the free agent wire.  Polite has to pick his game up.  He is superb and short yardage gains but his blocking is one of the worst on the team.

Number 1:  The entire team in the third and fourth quarters.  After the starters take a siesta in the first quarter and the second team joins them on the proverbial couch, the rest of the team will be battling for roster spots on the final 53, the practice squad, and other teams rosters.  While I still maintain that the fate of at least 17 players is already decided, all of them should be playing with a lot more enthusiasm and some of these cuts will not be easy.