The last week of the preseason is here, which means now is the time for the “bubble players” to prove they belong on the 53-man roster to begin the regular season. The Dolphins are now carrying over 70 players on their roster, and must trim to 53 by September 3rd at 4pm. There are some easy cuts, but the following players are currently on the bubble of being cut or making the roster, and their play on Thursday night may determine their fate on the team.
Brandon Doughty – QB
Ryan Tannehill is the starting quarterback. There isn’t a doubt about that. Matt Moore has served as Tannehill’s backup for three years, and seeks to enter his fourth year in the same role. The Dolphins are notorious for carrying just two quarterbacks on the active roster, especially given Tannehill’s surprising durability. This year, however, could be the year that it changes. Doughty looked great in the off-season OTA’s. In the pre-season, Doughty has completed 12 of his 16 passes for 87 yards, but has yet to find the end-zone. Ryan Tannehill likely will play just one series in the upcoming game, leaving Doughty to lead the team, with Moore getting his fair share of passes as well. Doughty needs to find the end-zone and prove to be efficient to gain a roster spot.
Projection: Practice Squad
Terrence Fede – DE
Fede has been a solid role player since his entry into the league in 2014. A blocked punt and a few key sacks have highlighted his short career. This off-season, the Dolphins have added more quality depth to their defensive front, which could leave Fede as the odd man out. The starting four of Cameron Wake, Earl Mitchell, Ndamukong Suh, and Mario Williams are set in stone. Behind them there are key backups such as Andre Branch, Jordan Phillips, and Jason Jones. Then there comes Fede, and another bubble player like DeAndre Coleman. While I am a huge fan of Fede, he needs to have a great game to show that he belongs
Projection: Practice Squad, signed by another team
Sam Young – RT
Young is a young, veteran journeymen from Notre Dame. After being selected by the Cowboys in 2010, he has bounced around the league to Buffalo, Jacksonville, and now Miami. Having started 13 career games, and played in a total of 58, he brings veteran experience to a rather young and underwhelming offensive line. Right now, he is slated behind young John Ulrick to back up Ja’Wuan James. If Young performs well, he will earn the spot, and bring much needed veteran experience.
Projection: 53 man roster
#4 Running Back
I’m not calling out one person, I am calling out three. Right now, the Miami Dolphins three running backs will be Arian Foster and Jay Ajayi in a timeshare, and Damien Williams providing a change of pace/spell for the two backs. Given both Ajayi’s and Foster’s injury concerns, having another running back ready to go will be crucial. Right now, the three backs fighting for that spot are Isaiah Pead, Daniel Thomas, and rookie Kenyan Drake. Miami fans know what Daniel Thomas brings to the table; a large running back that tries to play small and has terrible vision. Isaiah Pead is a 3rd down back at best, and has off the field issues and tore an ACL in 2013. Kenyan Drake is a rookie this year who served as a backup his entire collegiate career. There isn’t much talent there. One of them HAS to prove their worth this Thursday. For Drake, this game will be his first action of his NFL career.
Projection: Pead cut. Daniel Thomas to Practice Squad, Drake to active roster.
Mike Hull – MLB
Hull impressed last year as practice squad player, and made one regular season appearance. He can contribute on special teams and will bolster up a young linebacking core that will feature an oft-injured Kiko Alonso as the starter in the middle. Hull currently trails James-Michael Johnson, a veteran journeyman with 107 career tackles to his name since 2012. Hull leads the defense in tackles with 22 in the preseason
Projection: Start of practice squad, promotion mid-season