The Miami Dolphins, like the rest of the NFL, reduced their roster to the league 75-man roster limit today, cutting or placing on injured reserve 11 players. Those roster moves have led to us updating our 53-man roster projection.
Let me start this by saying, I am not 100-percent sold on this roster. For one, I am carrying seven wide receivers at this point (or five running backs depending on how you classify Marcus Thigpen). I only have four cornerbacks on the roster, with safeties moving down if needed. I want to change some things, but, as of right now, this is how I have the roster projected.
Quarterbacks (2): Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore will be the two signal callers on the 53-man roster. A third QB should be on the practice squad, though I do not think it will be Seth Lobato.
Running backs (4): Lamar Miller, Knowshon Moreno, and Damien Williams appear to be locks for the roster. The final position was likely going to be a battle between Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee, but the Injured Reserve status of Gillislee opens the door for Thomas to stick around another year. If Thomas can have a good performance in this Thursday's game against the St. Louis Rams, he should absolutely solidify his position.
Wide receivers (7): Once again, I think seven is too many. I think they could all make the roster, too, though, so I do not know where I would make the cut, nor do I know where I would add a player if I released one of the wide receivers. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, and Jarvis Landry are all locks at this point. Rishard Matthews is not far behind those four, with Marcus Thigpen's scatback/slot skills earning him a roster position, along with Damian Williams. Seven is aboslutely a luxury, but it may be one the Dolphins can afford while they way for the suspensions to Reshad Jones and Dion Jordan to end.
Tight end (3): One factor of having seven wide receivers is only having three tight ends. The release of Michael Egnew and Brett Brackett, as well as Arthur Lynch being place on IR, makes it difficult to project four players making the roster at this spot, though Kyle Miller should be at least in consideration. Charles Clay is obviously the starter, with Dion Sims and Harold Hoskins holding down the two spots behind him.
Offensive line (9): The names shifted a little, but the same nine players are on the roster as compared to our last projection. Ja'Wuan James and Branden Albert are the starting tackles, Samson Satele is in the center, with Daryn Colledge and Shelley Smith the starting guards. Nate Garner slides in as the backup right guard, though he can play anywhere on the line, with Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner backing up the guard positions. The final member of the nine is Sam Brenner, who could find himself on the outside looking in whenever Mike Pouncey is cleared.
Defensive line (9): A.J. Francis being placed on IR moves Anthony Johnson into the top reserve defensive tackle spot behind the rotating starting trio of Randy Starks, Earl Mitchell, and Jared Odrick. It also elevates Isaako Aaitui into the 53-man roster. At defensive end, Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Derrick Shelby, and Terrence Fede are the same.
Linebackers (7): No change to the linebackers, where Dannell Ellebe, Koa Misi, and Philip Wheeler man the starting spots, with Jelani Jenkins, Jordan Tripp, and Chris McCain taking the second string. Jason Trusnik is the outlyer right now, potentially making the roster because he brings veteran experience and can play special teams; he could, potentially, be one of the cuts when Jones and Jordan come back.
Defensive backs (9): Last time I did this, I separated cornerbacks and safeties in the writeup. I do nt think I can do that anymore, given how intermingled the two positions are on the Dolphins roster. Starting free safety Jimmy Wilson is usually the nickel cornerback, when Jones is not suspended. Walt Aikens was moved from cornerback to safety this year, though he could still line up as a corner, as can Michael Thomas. Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes appear set as the cornerbacks, with Will Davis and Jamar Taylor serving as their understudies. Currently, it appears Davis slides into the lineup along the boundary in nickel situations, with Finnegan moving inside. The final member of the group, Don Jones, has had a bad training camp, and could be on the outside looking in if Miami needs to find a roster spot somewhere else, or when Reshad Jones is ready to come back.
Specialists (3): Caleb Sturgis returned to practice today, so I will assume he is the starting kicker for Miami opening day. If not, Jake Rogers appears in position to hold down the fort while Sturgis rehabs. Brandon Fields is a lock, and John Denney should be a lock as well.
Roster Cuts Timeline
Today at 4pm ET was the deadline for the roster reduction from 90-players to the 75-man limit. Miami plays their last preseason game, hosting the St. Louis Rams in Preseason Week 4 (August 28, 7pm ET), before the final round of roster cuts. All teams will have to reduce their rosters from 75-players to the regular season limit of a 53-man roster by Saturday afternoon.