The Miami Dolphins report to training camp one week from today. Leading up to the frst preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons, we are going to work our way through the team's roster, breaking down each position and looking at the depth chart.
Having already completed the quarterback position, we now take a step behind the signal caller to look at the running backs.
Where the quarterback position is already locked for the year, the running back is exactly the opposite. There will be plenty of position battles and bubble watch happening in the backfield this preseason. Currently, the depth chart essentially looks like:
First Team: Lamar Miller
Second Team: Knowshon Moreno
Third Team: Daniel Thomas / Mike Gillislee
Fourth Team: Orleans Darkwa (R) / Damien Williams (R)
Miller seems to still be holding on to the top spot he had last year, despite the signing of Moreno this offseason. The Dolphins likely want to see Miller continue in the starting role, improving on his performance last year, and giving them reason to believe he can be the top runner for the next few years. Moreno is on the roster to solidify the position and push Miller for the starting role, but he has not been able to practice much due to a knee injury, meaning we have to see how far behind Miller the coaches consider him right now.
The bottom four running backs are a jumble, where any of them could come out to claim a roster spot. Thomas is a frustrating runner, at times flashing the talent that made him a second round draft pick, but at times he simply disappears. He has the size you want in a running back, and he should be able to run with power, but it just is not always there.
Gillislee, Darkwa, and Williams are all unknown commodities for the Dolphins, all being young players without any real NFL experience. Darkwa and Williams are rookies looking to claim a roster spot, while Gillislee, a fifth round draft pick by the Dolphins last year, is still looking to make his regular season NFL debut.
Assuming the Dolphins will carry four running backs, at this point, it is likely the running back corps will be Miller, Moreno, Thomas, and Gillislee when the roster cuts to the 53-man limit. Darkwa and Williams could be looking for a practice squad position if they are not quite impressive enough for the active roster.
The bubble watch in this case will focus on Thomas, who could find himself off the team if either of the rookies or Gillislee are able to make a strong case for sticking with the team.