Yesterday marked the deadline for NFL franchises to reduce their rosters to the regular season 53-player limit. For the Miami Dolphins, that means releasing 19 players, placing two on the suspension list, and putting one on injured reserve. While yesterday's focus was on the players leaving the team, today we start to look at the players still with the club. Which players still on the roster were the biggest surprises?
1. Orleans Darkwa, running back - The undrafted free agent was Miami's leading rusher in the preseason, but he still was a surprise to make the roster. Expectations seemed to have Darkwa as a practice squad player, with veteran Daniel Thomas likely to make the 53-man roster if Miami kept four running backs. Instead, Darkwa became one of two UDFAs to make the roster at running back, joining Damien Williams, and will be backing up Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno.
2. Jason Fox, offensive tackle - Fox did not show a lot this preseason for the Dolphins, who were looking for him to backup Branden Albert at left tackle. He does, however, give the Dolphins depth at any area of need. Miami lists him as the backup right tackle, working behind rookie Ja'Wuan James, but he should be able to serve as the swing tackle if needed. Fox could be one of the players considered expendable when Dion Jordan and Reshad Jones complete their four game suspension and return to the roster.
3. Don Jones, safety - Jones had a very rough training camp and preseason. He is probably better than he has shown as of late, but indications were that Jones was not going to make the roster. The team moved cornerback Walt Aikens back to safety, which would give the team four safeties without Jones. The Dolphins will use Louis Delmas and Jimmy Wilson as the starters at the position until Reshad Jones returns and takes Wilson's spot. Behind them, Michael Thomas, Aikens, and Don Jones will serve as the reserves. Don Jones could be the player tagged to lose his roster position once Reshad Jones completes his suspension.
4. Jonathan Freeny, linebacker - The Dolphins went deep at the linebacker position, keeping eight on the roster. Freeny was the surprise of the grouping. Throughout the preseason, Miami routinely rotated reserve linebackers in with the starting defensive unit, with Jelani Jenkins, Jason Trusnik, Chris McCain, and Jordan Tripp all seeing time with the starters. Freeny was not included in those rotations. There was barely ever a mention of Freeny, and it seemed as though he was the forgotten player at the position.
5. Mike Pouncey, center - This may not actually be a surprise, but Pouncey being on the 53-man roster was in question, up until he actually made the roster. Pouncey had been on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list all summer, and has yet to be cleared to workout with the team following offseason hip surgery. The Dolphins could have placed Pouncey on the Reserve/PUP list, which would have sidelined him through Week 6 of the season, but his presence on the 53-man roster indicates the club believes he will be back before then.