The Miami Dolphins beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-24 in Saturday’s first preseason game of the year. Both teams used the game to get a closer look at their depth players, with the majority of the presumed starters either not playing or seeing extremely limited action. With the first cut day of the summer, when rosters move from the current 90 players down to 85, just a couple of days away, a strong performance yesterday could keep a player around the team a little longer – and potentially move them toward making the 53-man roster at the end of the preseason.
Tuesday’s upcoming roster-limit change will be followed by another on Tuesday, August 23, when the roster size drops to 80 players. The final roster cuts come the Tuesday after that, August 30, when the limit drops to the in-season 53-man limit. On August 31, teams can start building their 16-man practice squad for the season.
After yesterday’s game and with another week of training camp practices behind us, it is time to update our roster prediction for the Dolphins.
Offense (26) (Change -1)
Change: Add Thompson
I may be one of the last holdouts on jumping on what feels like a Skylar Thompson bandwagon right now, but three roster spots on quarterbacks is going to hurt the depth somewhere else. Every year there is a player who gets all kinds of hype early in training camp, then disappears later in the summer. Is that Thompson this year? I am going to add him to the roster here, but he is definitely still a roster bubble player in my mind.
running back (4)
The game last night did nothing to showcase the running game, but it really didn’t do anything to shake up the top four players either. Gaskin had a nice 20-yard run, but that was basically the entire rushing attack on the day (minus a 21-yard scramble from Thompson). Salvon Ahmed would be the threat to crack into this group, but nothing on Saturday makes that move a requirement now.
Neither Ingold nor John Lovett played in the game. The Dolphins will have a fullback this year and it should be Ingold unless something drastic happens during the rest of the summer.
tight ends (4)
Change: Remove Adam Shaheen.
The Dolphins traded Shaheen to the Houston Texans last week, only to have that trade voided when the tight end’s knee failed a physical due to a pre-existing condition. Miami held him out of the game and he is likely destined to be released if no one is willing to trade for him based on the medical news. He could be among the cuts this week. Gesicki starting the game was a little surprising, given how many players Miami held out of the contest, and did have a 13-yard reception on the first play from scrimmage, although the early summer focus for the tight ends has been on blocking. Carter saw the most action at the position, and he did the work as the fullback for the game, which could be a sign of who would back up Ingold during the season.
wide receiver (6)
Cedric Wilson, Jr.
Lynn Bowden, Jr.
Preston Williams is the bubble player here, and he got work as a punt returner, which may be his only way onto the roster right now. Bowden looked good, recording three receptions on four targets for 55 yards and, as Thompson described it, a “layup” of a touchdown. Those two players were said to be on the trade block, but I still feel like it was an “either-or” situation and not Miami looking to move both. Bowden feels like he is going to make the roster right now. Sanu is the bubble player in the group and could see his slot go to Williams if the team decides Williams’ return work is worthy of a spot. Braylon Sanders, an undrafted free agent with some flashes early in camp, was targeted twice during the game, but did not record a catch; he feels like a practice squad player as does Trent Sherfield right now.
Offensive lineman (8)
Change: Remove Robert Jones.
The offensive line was shaky throughout the night, in part because it was a piecemeal unit to start the game and then had depth players throughout the rest of the game. Jones gets pulled off the roster after not really doing anything, especially in the running game. It just as easily could have been Coleman who came off the roster, but he sticks as the depth behind Armstead right now. There was discussion that Kindley struggled, especially as a pulling guard and that his body does not fit what the Dolphins are trying to do with the line, but he was effective in pass blocking and there is probably still a role for him. Jackson started at right tackle and appeared to be solid throughout his limited playing time. Deiter came back from injury this week and started at center; ideally, his role is the emergency utility interior lineman who can plug in if an in-game injury occurs. I don’t like having just eight offensive linemen, but unless the Dolphins add someone in free agency, I think eight might be the way they go.
Defense (24) (Change +1)
Defensive Lineman (6)
Change: Add Jones.
If you remember back to last summer, I like Jones and think he has potential as a solid depth defensive tackle. He came through last night and made some good plays in the middle of the Dolphins’ defensive line. He is still a bubble player, but as of right now, he appears to be on the right side of the cut line.
Andrew Van Ginkel
The linebackers were definitely a concern last night, although the team did not have their starters out there. There just is nothing definitive for the position that came out last night. Tindall played on both defense and special teams, with nothing spectacular, but no major mistakes either. Eguavoen had the height of the fumble recovery for a touchdown, but he also had some struggles like missing tackles. Cameron Goode had some flashes and is capable of claiming a roster spot if the numbers work in his favor. Overall, more is needed to be seen from the linebackers group.
Let the arguments for Trill Williams and against Igbinoghene begin. Yes, Williams played well, and yes, he could make the roster. Yes, Igbinoghene has struggled in Tampa, including the joint practices. If you know me, I am big on the fact that Igbinoghene is just 22 years old and already has two years of NFL experience. He still has time to develop. I have to go back to watch the touchdown pass that everyone blames on Igbinoghene right now, but Miami was in a zone and it looked like the cornerback was dropping into a zone in the back left side of the endzone. The touchdown came on a post route in front of him, heading towards the middle of the field. It seemed like he thought whoever was responsible for the middle of the field was going to pick up the receiver, only to have to try to react when a well-placed throw split the zone. Maybe Igbinoghene should have been there, but it might not have been his responsibility either and he is getting criticized because he was the player in the TV frame at the time. As for Williams, I wanted to put him on the roster, but the injury last night worries me. If it turns out he avoided a major injury, I will come back and revisit this.
Honestly, I didn’t think about the safeties at all in the game. No one seemed to jump out, so like the linebackers, I will defer until after more is seen from them. Redwine or Fejedelem could find themselves on the wrong side of the cut line if the Dolphins need a roster spot somewhere else (Trill Williams or Cameron Goode immediately come to mind).
Special Teams (3) (No changes)
Long Snapper (1)
Sanders definitely looked like he is in even-year form, hitting all four field goal attempts, including two over 50 yards. The special teams are pretty well locked in, although punter Sterling Hofrichter looked fine with a 43.5 average punt on four kicks, with three inside the 20.