On Thursday night, the Dolphins will play their fourth and final preseason game. Many people will say it's a meaningless game. They'll talk about how many, if not all, of the team's first string players will not even play. However, Cam Cameron said it best when he said that Thursday night's game in New Orleans will be the biggest game of some of these players' lives. Why is that? It's simple. They're playing for their NFL career, whether it's with the Dolphins or some other team whose attention they grab. So let's quickly go over some of the final positional battles that will be determined in Thursday's game.
Running Back: Patrick Cobbs vs the numbers game
It's almost safe to assume that the Dolphins will be keeping at least 5 running backs (Brown, Chatman, Booker, Schlesinger, Mauia). That means for Patrick Cobbs to make the team, it'll be at the expense of another position rather than at the expense of another running back. He already beak out Ray Perkins, who was the only other halfback on the roster during camp. Against the Saints, Cobbs is likely to see the bulk of the carries, so he'll have every opportunity to prove he's worthy of a roster spot. The question is will it be with Miami or will he become a victim of the numbers game.
Wide Receiver: Az Hakim vs P.K. Sam vs Kerry Reed
With Chambers, Booker, Ginn, and Hagan locks to make the team, there is just one WR spot open (as it's unlikely they'd keep 6) with 3 players battling for it. Many believe it's Az Hakim's spot to lose due to his familiarity with the offense Cam is installing and his experience. However, he's been nonexistant in the preseason games. Sam, on the other hand, has 5 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown in the preseason. However, the fact that he isn't involved on special teams could hurt his chances. Meanwhile, Kerry Reed has certainly been impressive at times in practice and does have 3 catches for 48 yards in the preseason. But he's just a rookie and is very inconsistent. Also, his eligibility for the practice squad could hurt his chances at making thr 53-man roster. Without a doubt, this position will be a battle to keep an eye on as the game progresses.
Tight End: Courney Anderson vs Aaron Halterman
With it being likely the team will keep 3 tight ends, these 2 are in a battle for the final spot. Anderson, a late off-season acquisition, has shown flashes of ability, especially as a pass catcher (4 for 69 yards in preseason games). But his poor run blocking and the fact that he doesn't quite have a firm grasp of the playbook could hurt him. Halterman has just 2 preseason catches, but is a much better blocker and the coaches have been praising his toughness all camp. It'll be interesting to see if the coaches decide to go with the potential and upside of Anderson or the tougher, more physical play of Halterman.
Defensive Line: Chase Page vs Steve Fifita vs Mkristo Bruce
Here's how I have it right now. I think 7 lineman are already locked in. Those are Jason Taylor, Vonnie Holliday, Matt Roth, Keith Traylor, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, Paul Soliai, and Rodrique Wright. That leaves Page, Fifita, and Bruce battling for one, possibly (but not likely) 2 spots. Fifita was sent by Miam ito NFL Europa to develop this past spring and has done just that. There have been quite a number of times in which he's made a play or created issues for the oppostion along the front line. In fact, he actually leads the team in tackles in the preseason (12 total, 10 solo) and has a sack. Page is a guy who the coaching staff has liked throughout camp. Much like Roth, Page has a nonstop motor. Bruce is a guy who looks like he should be a monster devensive end, but who has disappointed a bit. It's more likely Bruce ends up on the practice squad. And in the end, I think the team will want an extra big body for the interior line rather than another DE, so I think Fifita plays himself onto the team.
Now, of course there are some other positional battles that I didn't talk about (offensive line, secondary). But the ones I listed above are the ones in which I think are so close that Thursday night's preseason finale will play a bigger role in determining the fate of these players.