Saints vs Dolphins: 5 Miami players to watch on defense

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins host the New Orleans Saints in their final preseason game of the year tonight. In all likelihood, the vast majority, if not all, of the starters will sit the entire game. So, who should we be watching tonight?

It all comes down to tonight. Who makes the Miami Dolphins' 53 man roster, and a who misses it? With tonight's final preseason game just two days before the final roster cuts, performances against the New Orleans Saints tonight absolutely matter. However, it's not the performances of the starters, but rather the performances of guys further down the depth chart.

Let's take a look at the five players from Miami's defense we should watch tonight.

  1. A.J. Francis, defensive tackle - Perhaps no player on the defense can do more for themselves tonight than Francis. The undrafted rookie has a chance to slam the locker room door and keep the turk away from him with a big performance tonight. Francis is on the roster bubble, and very much could already be on the good side of the cut line, but nothing is a sure thing yet.

  2. Josh Kaddu, linebacker - Kaddu is coming into his second year in the league, but may already be on his way out of Miami. Unfortunately for him, it may be nothing that he did, but rather simply a numbers game pushing him beyond the 53-man roster. Taken in the fifth round last season, Kaddu has plenty of potential, but could use a good game against the Saints to prove the potential will eventual turn into production.

  3. Kelcie McCray, safety - McCray seems like he is safe, but he might not be. McCray finds himself in the same predicament as some of the wide receivers, where they came out of the gate hot, but cooled as training camp and the preseason moved along. Has McCray done enough to hold on to the roster position, or could Don Jones, Jordan Kovacs, or Keelan Johnson claim the fourth safety position?

  4. De'Andre Presley, cornerback - Presley appears to be on the wrong side of the cut line, with Brent Grimes, Dimitri Patterson, Nolan Carroll, Will Davis, and Jamar Taylor all ahead of the former Appalachian State quarterback. If the Dolphins were to keep six cornerbacks, Presley would be the front runner in that race. Could a strong performance from him tonight force the Dolphins to make that move?

  5. Tristan Okpalaugo, defensive end - Okpalaugo is likely not playing for a roster spot tonight, based on the number of guys ahead of him on the depth chart, but that does not mean this game, and his performance in it, is meaningless to the rookie. The Dolphins could be considering a practice squad spot for the undrafted free agent, as well as the game could serve as an audition for some other teams who simply are not as deep at defensive end as Miami. Okpalaugo has talent and could develop well in the NFL, meaning it would not surprise me at all if he played very little tonight, signaling the Dolphins' desire to stash him on the practice squad while not putting anything poach worthy on film.
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