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Last week was the first defensive edition of our look at which players are on the roster bubble as we prepare for training camp, which begins late next month. In that installment, we examined the cornerback position. Today we remain on the defensive side of the ball and focus on one of the positions that very well could be the make-or-break position for this defense in 2010 - outside linebacker.
Based on what we've seen during mini-camp, it's likely that the two starting outside linebackers heading into the regular season will come from the three listed in the "safe" category. Charlie Anderson and Koa Misi have spent the most time working with the first team. Wake, though, has seen the most snaps this offseason - according to Tony Sparano, that is - and has worked a little bit with the first team. Cameron Wake has also been a mainstay in the team's nickel and dime sets. He's the best pass rusher on the team and has the potential to be an elite pass rusher.
Misi, meanwhile, has seen a lot of team working as the team's starting strong side linebacker. There will be a learning curve for the rookie, of course, as he makes the conversion from college defensive end to professional outside linebacker. But Misi did play a little bit of linebacker at times in Utah's defense. So the curve might not be as steep as it usually is for rookies making that transition.
Some might think that Quentin Moses should be in the "safe"category rather than on the roster bubble. But I don't feel safe listing somebody as safe unless I'm nearly 100% certain that he will make the 53 man roster. The coaching staff seems to like Moses. And the front office did recently sign Moses to a one-year deal worth a little over a million dollars when they could have just let the restricted free agent walk.
Moses is entering his fourth year with the Dolphins, though, and his third year with this current regime. He's hung around the bottom of the depth chart for some time but it's now time for the 26 year old veteran to show something. The fact that he's virtually a non-contributor on special teams could also hurt him. This is Quentin's "poop or get off the pot" season with this organization.
Speaking of special teams contributions, I present to you Erik Walden. The third-year pro has made the team the past two seasons in large part because of his ability to play on special teams. He's played in 26 games over his two years in Miami but has contributed very little defensively. And it just so happens that the Dolphins drafted Walden's former college understudy from Middle Tennessee State.
That player is rookie seventh round pick Chris McCoy. McCoy was the Sun Belt Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 after a year in which he recorded 7 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss. Like Misi, McCoy is transitioning to a new position as a pro. His athleticism (4.7 40, 23 rep bench, and 33 inch vertical at his Pro Day) should translate well. He's currently the only rookie that the team has come to terms with and will likely be a special teams guy initially as he develops as a pass rusher.
But even if McCoy fails to make the 53 man roster, he's a good bet to land on Miami's practice squad.
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