Miami Dolphins fringe players need big night tonight
By Brian Miller
When the Miami Dolphins take the field tonight against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it will be the last professional football for a few players. Their hopes of making it in the NFL will be dashed by Saturday afternoon. Tonight we will watch a few players play out their dreams and that is something that is a reality in both life and in the NFL. Yet some of those players may find a home on another NFL team or may make enough of a final impression to convince the coaching staff to keep them around.
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One thing is for certain, tonights game isn’t meaningless for everyone.
Camp battles are coming to a close and position battles have all but been officially decided. From young un-drafted rookies to NFL veterans, tonight give a final shot to make that aforementioned impression. Who will be playing for their careers tonight? Or for their dreams? Here is a look at some of the players who are bordering on making the roster that may not be around come Sunday.
Will Davis – it was reported yesterday that Davis is being shopped by the Dolphins. The problem is that Davis, a former 3rd round pick by Jeff Ireland, has hardly shown he has value to anyone. Davis is coming off a season ending knee injury and has openly admitted to still being not 100%. In addition through three pre-season games, Davis has been thrown at more times than any other corner and opposing teams have had very good success doing so. Davis has given up more yards and more receptions than any of his fellow corners. Tonight might mark the final installment on Davis’ Dolphins career but a great game tonight could get the phone ringing in Mike Tannebaum’s pocket…but probably not.
C.J. Mosley – He was supposed to add depth and challenge starter Earl Mitchell but instead the Dolphins got nothing in the short term and as a result will likely not have him long term. Mosley needs to play so far above everyone else tonight to have even a small chance of making the roster. This off-season has not been good to the former Detroit Lion and Ndamukong Suh teammate. Unlike some of the others in the NFL who face career changing paths this weekend, someone will be looking at Mosley once he hits Free Agent Street.
Hewitt, Hull, & Luc – Three un-drafted rookies have made coaches take notice of their potential but potential is never enough to warrant a roster spot. All three are players who could be asked to join the practice squad if they don’t make the final 53. Not all of them will. It’s difficult to pick out one who has stood above the others and each have had positive moments and each negative moments. Tonight needs to be positive for all three as one of them may be sitting in that 53rd spot on the roster.
A.J. Francis and Anthony Johnson – The Dolphins could very well keep both of these players on the final 53 but that doesn’t mean that they will be safe from elimination after cuts around the league are made. The Dolphins have been pretty high on Francis and Johnson has at times showed a lot of promise. Both players enter tonights game with something to show and whether they accomplish that or not could have a lasting impact on the coaches deciding to keep them or not.
Caleb Sturgis or Andrew Franks – Both players should continue to see a career in the NFL. Sturgis who is unreliable and inconsistent is simply just good enough to get by and another NFL team needing a kicker mid-season would kick the proverbial tires on him if he were available. That’s not to say that he will not make the roster but Andrew Franks is an intriguing rookie with a big booming leg. His only downside is his own inconsistencies. There has been talk recently of the team keeping him on the practice squad. Tonight will give him and Sturgis a chance to show they belong. Or not.
Spencer Paysinger – Paysinger has starting NFL experience but apparently it isn’t good experience. This pre-season Paysinger has looked absolutely lost at times and now sits on the bubble to make the roster. In fact it could be one of either Hewitt, Luc, or Hull that take his spot. His saving grace is that he is very good on special teams. Tonight Paysinger must have a good game. If not he won’t be too convincing on the coaches board.
Josh Freeman – It’s hard not to feel bad for the guy. He sat out last season and is trying to impress teams in his bid for a comeback. Let’s not forget this was a former first round pick who played very well in his first two seasons in Tampa Bay. How ironic that his last game in Miami will be against the team that drafted him. In fact, if Freeman continues to play as poorly as he has this pre-season, the Buccaneers may indeed end his career tonight completely.
Christion Jones – Jones has looked pretty good in the return game but he is swallowed up by talent at wide-receiver. Jones I think will land somewhere if not on Miami’s own practice squad. WR’s take a little longer to develop so there is a lot of time in front of him and he has shown an ability to play at the position.
Mike Gillislee – It’s hard to imagine this guy making the roster. The Dolphins don’t have an injury designation to attach to him like they did last year. Gillislee has talent just not realized at this level yet and he needs to get more reps to realize it. Gillislee won’t be in Miami after Saturday but there are plenty of running back hungry teams who will likely give him a shot.