Posted: 9:46 pm Thursday, August 16th, 2012
By Post Staff
Three weeks of training camp are down, and about two weeks remain until the Dolphins have to cut their roster down to 53 players. The cut down to 80 players is on Aug. 28, and the cut down to 53 players is Sept. 2.
Here’s our best projection of the 53-man roster, plus our choices for the 8-man practice squad. Of course, the Dolphins may pick up a player or two after roster cuts are made, but for now we can only go with the bodies they have in camp. Our explanation for picking the roster appears below the depth chart:
OFFENSE (26 players)
QB (3): Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Pat Devlin
RB (4): Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas, Steve Slaton, Lamar Miller
FB (1): Jorvorskie Lane
WR (6): Davone Bess, Legedu Naanee, Brian Hartline, Roberto Wallace, Julius Pruitt, Chris Hogan
TE (4): Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay, Jeron Mastrud, Michael Egnew
OT (3): Jake Long, Jonathan Martin, Lydon Murtha
G (3): Richie Incognito, Artis Hicks, Eric Steinbach
C (2): Mike Pouncey, Josh Samuda
DEFENSE (24 players)
DE (4): Cameron Wake, Jared Odrick, Olivier Vernon, Derrick Shelby
DT (4): Randy Starks, Paul Soliai, Tony McDaniel*, Kheeston Randall
WLB (2): Koa Misi, Josh Kaddu
MLB (2): Karlos Dansby, Jason Trusnik
SLB (2): Kevin Burnett, Gary Guyton
CB (5): Sean Smith, Richard Marshall, Vontae Davis, Nolan Carroll, Jonathan Wade
S (5): Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Jimmy Wilson, Tyrone Culver, Anderson Russell
SPECIALISTS (3 players)
K: Dan Carpenter
P: Brandon Fields
LS: John Denney
WR B.J. Cunningham
WR Jeff Fuller
TE Les Brown
OT Andrew McDonald
DE Jarrell Root
DT Chas Alecxih
DE Jaquies Smith
CB Vincent Agnew
* First, let’s start off with the overriding theory that the defense is better than the offense at this point, and has fewer holes. The Dolphins need to find and develop their playmakers on offense, so instead of sending a promising young player like Chris Hogan or Julius Pruitt to the waiver wire, we have the Dolphins keeping six receivers plus four tight ends, four running backs and a fullback. We also have the Dolphins keeping three young receivers on the practice squad – more chances to find a diamond in the rough. To compensate, we have the Dolphins keeping one less player than normal on defense, but still keeping at least one backup at each position – eight defensive linemen, six linebackers and 10 defensive backs, plus four more guys on the practice squad.
* At quarterback, you’ll notice a glaring omission from the depth chart: David Garrard. That’s not a mistake. It’s not looking good for Garrard to make the roster now that he’s out at least two to three more weeks following knee surgery, although his place on the roster will largely depend on Ryan Tannehill’s development.
The big issue with Garrard is that, as a vested veteran, his entire $2.25 million salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the Week 1 roster. If Tannehill continues to play well and grabs the starting job, it makes Garrard more expendable, especially with a healthy Matt Moore as a solid backup. Plus, with Garrard’s injury history – he hasn’t played a game since 2010 – it’s hard to see the Dolphins guaranteeing him his salary when he’s no certainty to even play a snap this year.
More likely, the Dolphins will reach an injury settlement with Garrard and release him, and second-year pro Pat Devlin, who has held his own this camp, will slide into the No. 3 quarterback spot. The biggest reason to keep Garrard would be if Tannehill looks awful during the rest of the preseason, but so far he has looked very good.
* At receiver, we’re buying the hype on Chris Hogan for now. He’s been the surprise star of training camp, and could potentially be a great bottom-of-the-roster type of guy as a special teams standout and emergency slot receiver. He’s only been playing with the third string, so maybe Hard Knocks is overstating his impact, or perhaps the Dolphins are trying to hide him during camp and sneak him onto the practice squad. But that’s probably not going to happen now that the whole world knows how good Hogan has been.
For now, we’ve got him beating out Marlon Moore and Clyde Gates for the sixth spot, but that could easily change. Roberto Wallace, despite taking a beating from the coaching staff, is definitely making this team. Also likely to make it is Julius Pruitt, who excels on special teams and seems to be coming on as a slot receiver.
* At tight end, the Dolphins pretty much have to keep blocking tight end Jeron Mastrud, because Anthony Fasano is the only other tight end who can block. Michael Egnew, despite his bad camp, isn’t going anywhere. We also expect the Dolphins to keep FB Jorvorskie Lane because of his skills as a blocker (Charles Clay isn’t a blocking fullback), short-yardage runner and on special teams. The Dolphins could try to stash Les Brown on the practice squad, but he might get poached by another team.
* The offensive line is pretty straight forward. John Jerry and Nate Garner will be the two names you recognize most that won’t make the team.
* No real surprises on defense. We’ve got undrafted rookie Derrick Shelby beating out Jamaal Westerman for a backup defensive end spot, Jason Trusnik beating out Austin Spitler to be the backup middle linebacker, and Jonathan Wade, Tyrone Culver and Anderson Russell as the last defensive backs to make the team. The defensive backfield is the defense’s weak spot, so we have the Dolphins keeping 10 guys, not nine.
The one wild card is Tony McDaniel, who was not in attendance at practice all week after injuring his knee last Friday night. If he has to go onto Injured Reserve, it could slide someone like Ryan Baker or Chas Alecxih onto the roster.