Dolphins 53-man roster projection: Who locked up a spot after first preseason game?

·6 min read
Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Dolphins made a series of transactions to get their roster down from 90 players to 85 ahead of the NFL’s 4 p.m. deadline Tuesday. The first few weeks of training camp has seen the Dolphins unsuccessfully trade a player, place a promising player on injured reserve and make a veteran addition to address depth concerns. And with two preseason games left, there is still a lot of time for bubble players to stack performances that land them on the team.

Here’s the Miami Herald’s latest projection of what the Dolphins’ 53-man roster look like:

Offense

Quarterbacks (2): Tua Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater

On the bubble: Skylar Thompson

Skinny: There’s no change here from the pretraining camp projection, save for Thompson’s move from roster long shot to being on the bubble. Thompson impressed in his first NFL start last Saturday night, playing the entirety of the team’s preseason-opening win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Dolphins see something in Thompson, who has shown poise and command of the offense. Yet, the team still may have to expose him to waivers and bring him back on the practice squad to ensure they can devote a roster spot elsewhere. The more Thompson shines, the longer Dolphins decision-makers have to ponder the question.

Running backs (3): Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, Sony Michel.

On the bubble: Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, ZaQuandre White, Gerrid Doaks.

Skinny: This position group remains hard to read but the first few weeks of training camp have included some interesting developments. Mostert has ditched the red, non-contact jersey he donned for the first couple practices and is poised for a big role in the backfield. Michel has been limited throughout camp and played eight offensive snaps in the first preseason game. Head coach Mike McDaniel said the decision to put certain players on the field wasn’t a reward or punishment but Michel seems to be closer to the bubble than he appeared to be when he first signed to the team. Ahmed and Gaskin led the position group in snaps last Saturday, playing 15 and 13, respectively.

Wide receiver (6): Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Cedrick Wilson Jr., Erik Ezukanma, Trent Sherfield, Lynn Bowden Jr.

On the bubble: River Cracraft, Braylon Sanders, Preston Williams, Mohamed Sanu.

Skinny: The sole change here is Bowden, who after seeing limited opportunities to start camp, broke out with a three-reception, 55-yard performance in the preseason opener, including a 22-yard touchdown catch. Bowden has reportedly been discussed in trade talks but he reminded the Dolphins of the talent that brought the front office to trade for him two years ago. Bowden also brings value as a returner, which could take the pressure off key offensive players such as Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle to fill the role. Sanders is also one to watch for a final receiver spot after a strong start to camp.

Tight end/fullback (5): Mike Gesicki, Alec Ingold, Durham Smythe, Hunter Long, Cethan Carter.

Injured reserve: Adam Shaheen.

On the bubble: Tanner Conner.

Long shot: John Lovett.

Skinny: The Dolphins placed Shaheen on IR on Tuesday after his trade to the Houston Texans was rescinded because of a failed physical. Conner has emerged as a reliable pass-catcher in team drills but would likely need to show special teams value to unseat Carter. After wearing the red, noncontact jersey for the first three weeks of camp, Ingold was seen without it Tuesday and looks on track to play Week 1.

Offensive tackle (4): Terron Armstead, Austin Jackson, Larnel Coleman, Greg Little.

On the bubble: Kion Smith.

Long shot: Kellen Diesch.

Skinny: The Dolphins still have questions about the depth at the position; Coleman and Little are listed as second-team tackles on depth chart. Although Little didn’t play in the preseason opener because of an undisclosed injury, Smith’s performance didn’t do much to shake up the pecking order.

Interior offensive line (5): Liam Eichenberg, Connor Williams, Robert Hunt, Michael Deiter, Robert Jones.

On the bubble: Solomon Kindley, Adam Pankey.

Long shot: Blaise Andries.

Skinny: Deiter started the team’s preseason opener and though he might not be the best fit for McDaniel’s outside zone scheme, the Dolphins will need a serviceable backup behind Williams, whose snapping has been inconsistent. Jones played 31 snaps Saturday, tied for the fourth-most among linemen.

Defense

Interior defensive line (5): Emmanuel Ogbah, Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis, Zach Sieler, John Jenkins.

On the bubble: Benito Jones.

Long shot: Ben Stille, Owen Carney, Niles Scott.

Skinny: The Dolphins released veteran backup Adam Butler because of a failed physical, opening a reserve spot for a young lineman. Jones, who had a productive performance in the season opener, is the favorite to take up a final spot but just misses out on it; the reasoning is that with multiple edge players who can move inside, that versatility allows the Dolphins to allocate a roster spot elsewhere.

Outside linebacker (4): Jaelan Phillips, Andrew Van Ginkel, Melvin Ingram III, Brennan Scarlett.

On the bubble: Cameron Goode, Porter Gustin, Darius Hodge.

Long shot: Deandre Johnson.

Skinny: There’s no change here but Goode, Gustin and Hodge have all had really good camps and could push for a final roster spot.

Inside linebacker (5): Jerome Baker, Elandon Roberts, Duke Riley, Sam Eguavoen, Channing Tindall.

Long shot: Calvin Munson.

Skinny: After being left out of the pretraining camp projection, Eguavon returns to the 53-man roster. He missed multiple tackles in the preseason opener but remains a player with a knack for the ball, as evidenced by his 33-yard fumble recovery touchdown. He might not play much on defense but can be utilized inside or on the edge, as well as contribute on special teams.

Cornerback (6): Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Nik Needham, Keion Crossen, Noah Igbinoghene, Mackensie Alexander.

Injured reserve: Trill Williams.

On the bubble: Kader Kohou, Elijah Campbell, Elijah Hamilton, D’Angelo Ross, Quincy Wilson.

Skinny: With less than a month until the season opener, the depth of this position group is the team’s top concern. Jones remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list after offseason surgery on his lower leg. McDaniel said there has been no setback for Jones, who is aiming for a Week 1 return. However, the longer he remains sidelined, the more his availability needs to be considered in question. Meanwhile, Williams, who was vying for a top backup spot, was lost for the season to an ACL tear, and Igbinoghene has struggled to maintain day-to-day consistency. Alexander faces a steep learning curve because of his late arrival but is an experienced veteran who could fill in if called upon.

Safety (5): Jevon Holland, Brandon Jones, Eric Rowe, Sheldrick Redwine, Clayton Fejedelem.

On the bubble: Verone McKinley III.

Skinny: Redwine and Fejdelem have both missed time to injury, opening more reps for McKinley, who grabbed two interceptions over a two-day span earlier in camp. If he continues to make plays, he could push Redwine for a final safety spot.

Special teams

Specialists (3): Jason Sanders, Thomas Morstead, Blake Ferguson

Long shot: Sterling Hofrichter

Skinny: No changes here with the trio of specialists.