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Previously we've only had practices - most of which weren't seen by any of us - to go on when trying to put together how the Dolphins' 53 man roster might look by the time week one rolls around. But now we have a preseason game to help us decipher where some of these "bubble players" fall right now.
We also can begin to piece together most of the starting eleven on both sides of the ball. In fact, the Miami Herald is reporting some starting spots that were previously thought to be open to competition have been won. Among the winners of starting jobs, according to this source, are center Joe Berger and free safety Chris Clemons.
Head coach Tony Sparano said on Wednesday that the second preseason game is used to "identify specific clumbs" and to "get a look a groups of people out there you might have some questions about." We also know that Sparano wants to have his starting offensive line defined by next week. So I think we're going to get a look at a number of guard combinations to determine which pairing is the best for the unit as a whole.
Below is our weekly snapshot of how the 53 man roster might look as of right now. The highlighted names are players who I consider "locks" to make the team. Some thoughts and reaction follow the mock depth chart and lists of bubble players who just miss the cut.
|1st Team||2nd Team||
3rd Team/4th Team
|RB||Ronnie Brown||Ricky Williams||
Patrick Cobbs/Lex Hilliard
|TE||Anthony Fasano||David Martin
|LT||Jake Long||Lydon Murtha
|RT||Vernon Carey||Nate Garner|
|1st Team||2nd Team||3rd Team|
|DE||Kendall Langford||Charles Grant
|ILB||Channing Crowder||Tim Dobbins
|1st Team||2nd Team||3rd Team|
Last 5 On: Patrick Turner, Joey Haynos, Austin Spitler, Quentin Moses, Lydon Murtha
First 5 Off: Pat White, Lionel Dotson, Cory Procter, Nate Ness, Marlon Moore
Next 5 Off: Roberto Wallace, Andrew Hartline, Chris McCoy, Ryan Baker
Right now, I have 38 spots on the final roster locked in. That would mean 15 spots remain open heading into the second preseason game. Some thoughts on all of this:
- The offensive line is really as confusing as ever. Now with Nate Garner's injury, you have to wonder how the Dolphins will go about putting together their OL depth chart. Do you eat up a roster spot on a valuable player like Garner despite the fact that he's going to miss up to the first 5 games of the season? Or do you put him on IR, ending his season but freeing up a roster spot? Cory Procter is probably hoping Garner goes on IR. If he doesn't, Procter might lose a spot on this team.
- Of course, the Dolphins could cut Jake Grove if he doesn't win the starting job and keep Procter, who has experience as a center but hasn't worked there much since joining the Dolphins.
- And then there's veteran guard Randy Thomas, who the Dolphins signed on Wednesday. If he still has anything left in the tank, he could win a spot on the team. But you have to figure some other more "offensive line needy" team would have snatched up Thomas before the Dolphins did here in mid August if he still could play, right?
- Maybe the Dolphins go with eight offensive lineman and free up a roster spot for a young guy who is climbing up the depth chart this month - like Nate Ness or Marlon Moore. But they need to continue their solid play on Saturday if they hope to make this team.
- The Dolphins could go with only three inside linebackers, put Austin Spitler on the practice squad, and then use that extra roster spot for an offensive lineman...or for Ness...or for Moore.
- Is it weird that the guy we all assume will be Chad Henne's backup likely will go two preseason games without even playing a snap?
Clearly lots to consider for this coaching staff as the regular season inches closer. I'm glad I'm not the one who has to make these decisions - that much I know for sure.
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