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Dolphins 53-man roster prediction mid-way through Preseason schedule

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NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins have played two of their four preseason games for the 2016 exhibition schedule. The first game featured the Dolphins beating the New York Giants, while the second game, this past Friday night, saw Miami get blown out by the Dallas Cowboys. While neither game counts in the ultimate win-loss tally for the Dolphins, these games do count for the players involved, both with health, position on the depth chart, or even just position on the roster in general.

Mid-way through the preseason schedule, there are still a lot of questions to be answered for the Dolphins. Where does the 53-man roster stand as of now? We make a prediction.

Quarterbacks (3)

Ryan Tannehill
Matt Moore
Brandon Doughty

NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Tannehill is clearly the starter. Matt Moore should be the backup, but Brandon Doughty is challenging for the position. Moore sustained a concussion on Friday night, and he may be out for an extended period of time if he cannot quickly pass the league’s concussion protocols. That opens the door to the Dolphins keeping three quarterbacks rather than trying to stash Doughty on the practice squad. Previous prediction: Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore

Running backs (4)

Jay Ajayi
Arian Foster
Isaiah Pead
Damien Williams

IR: Kenyan Drake

NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Ajayi and Arian Foster are still battling for the starting position, with Ajayi slightly ahead as of right now. Isaiah Pead is making an argument for earning some of the first-team carries over the next couple of weeks and he clearly is the third back on the roster as of right now. Damien Williams is probably ahead of Daniel Thomas as the option for the fourth running back, but he may not be as far ahead as many would expect. Finally, rookie Kenyan Drake has been injured recently, and Miami could look to stash him away by using the injured reserve, opening a roster spot, and then, potentially, bringing him back later in the year by using their one IR activation ability. Previous prediction: Jay Ajayi, Arian Foster, Kenyan Drake, Damien Williams

Tight ends (3)

Jordan Cameron
Dion Sims
Dominique Jones

NFL: Miami Dolphins-OTA Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This position is a little hard to predict, simply because no one seems to be jumping up to prove they are the top option. Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims are the incumbents and retain their positions. Dominique Jones seems to be putting himself in the position for the third spot. MarQueis Gray could make an argument for a roster position, but does not appear to be on the right side of the cut line at this point. Rookies Thomas Duarte and Gabe Hughes are both practice squad options for now. Previous prediction: Jordan Cameron, Dion Sims, Jake Stoneburner, Thomas Duarte

Wide receiver (5)

Jarvis Landry
DeVante Parker
Kenny Stills
Leonte Carroo
Jakeem Grant

NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The starting wide receivers are clearly Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills. Behind them, the two rookies, Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant, both appear to be in position to be key contributors to the team, with Carroo as the fourth wide out and Grant as a receiving option and, potentially, the top returner. Griff Whalen, Matt Hazel, and A.J. Cruz could all try to earn a sixth roster spot, but as of now, the team looks like a fiv-receiver roster. Rashawn Scott and Brandon Shippen have work to do, and they need to make a special teams impact. Previous prediction: Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Leonte Carroo, Jakeem Grant

Offensive line (9)

Branden Albert
Laremy Tunsil
Mike Pouncey
Jermon Bushrod
Ja’Wuan James
Billy Turner
Ulrick John
Anthony Steen
Dallas Thomas

NFL: Miami Dolphins-Training Camp Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins moved to what could be their opening week starting lineup on Friday when they put Laremy Tunsil and Jermon Bushrod into the guard postions flanked by Branden Albert, Mike Pouncey, and Ja’Wuan James. For the depth options, Billy Turner still makes the roster as the most likely challenger for Bushrod. Ulrick John provides tackle and guard depth, while Anthong Steen appears to be the backup center behind Pouncey. The final spot is currently going to Dallas Thomas, but he is not locked into that spot and could be moved out if someone else steps up. Ruben Carter, Kraig Urbik, Jamil Douglas, Vinston Painter, and Sam Young all appear to be on the wrong side of the cut line. Previous prediction: Branden Albert, Laremy Tunsil, Mike Pouncey, Billy Turner, Ja’Wuan James, Sam Young, Jermon Bushrod, Jamil Douglas, Dallas Thomas

Defensive ends (6)

Cameron Wake
Mario Williams
Andre Branch
Jason Jones
Terrence Fede
Chris McCain

NFL: Miami Dolphins-Minicamp Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins may be leaning toward five defensive ends being kept, but at this point, it is hard to imagine them cutting any of the six players listed. Cameron Wake and Mario Williams should be the starters, while Andre Branch seems to be liked by the coaching staff and will likely fill the role of run-support when Wake is pulled out of non-passing situations. Jason Jones gives the team some flexibility as he can play both defensive end and defensive tackle, which makes him an asset. The final decision comes down to Terrence Fede or Chris McCain, and both seem to have done enough to make the roster. McCain has disappeared a little in the last few days, so, if a cut here has to be made, he is likely the guy on the outside looking in, but that would be a painful cut, and McCain would likely be picked up pretty quickly elsewhere. Previous prediction: Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Andre Branch, Terrence Fede, Chris McCain, Jason Jones

Defensive tackle (4)

Ndamukong Suh
Jordan Phillips
Chris Jones
Julius Warmsley

NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at New York Giants William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Ndamukong Suh is Ndamukong Suh and nothing is going to knock him out of the top spot on the depth chart. Earl Mitchell appeared to be the second starting defensive tackle, but injuries have held him out of the first two preseason games, and Miami could look to Jordan Phillips to take over the starting role. Phillips has not be dominating by any stretch, but he is a young player and could develop into a solid starter. Chris Jones should be the veteran backup for the position and Julius Warmsley provides some solid depth. It is hard to see Miami releasing Mitchell, who could replace Warmsley on the roster in this projection if he gets healthy, but if this injury issues continues, he could be an Injured Reserve option. Previous prediction: Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Phillips, Earl Mitchell, Chris Jones

Linebackers (7)

Jelani Jenkins
Kiko Alonso
Koa Misi
Spencer Paysinger
Mike Hull
Neville Hewitt
James-Michael Johnson

NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone was concerned about the cornerbacks prior to the start of the preseason, but it appears the linebackers may actually be the most concerning position heading toward the regular season. Kiko Alonso will start at middle linebacker, with Jelani Jenkins at weakside and Koa Misi on the strongside. Behind them, there is a huge dependence on some young players to step up into key roles. Spencer Paysinger, heading into his sixth year, is likely the only safe true veteran who will be on the team in the depth role. Mike Hull and Neville Hewiitt are both undrafted free agents from last year who will likely carry on as depth this year. James-Michael Johnson slides onto the roster as the last player to make the team, and does add some veteran experience as he enters his fifth year. Previous prediction: Jelani Jenkins, Kiko Alonso, Koa Misi, Zach Vigil, Neville Hewitt, Spencer Paysinger

Cornerbacks (5)

Byron Maxwell
Xavien Howard
Bobby McCain
Tony Lippett
Lafayette Pitts

NFL: Miami Dolphins-Minicamp Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The top of the roster players at cornerback seem pretty straight forward, with Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard, Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett fairly well locked into the roster. It is all the players behind them that are fighting for a roster position. Chimdi Chekwa has a chance to be the fifth cornerback to make the roster, but something about Lafayette Pitts seems to be the right answer. Previous prediction: Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard, Bobby McCain, Tony Lippett, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

Safeties (4)

Reshad Jones
Isa Abdul-Quddus
Michael Thomas
Walt Aikens

NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Not a lot has changed at the safety position over the past few weeks. Reshad Jones and Isa Abdul-Quddus will start, with Michael Thomas as the primary reserve and Walt Aikens providing depth to the position. A.J. Hendy could be a practice squad option, while Shamiel Gray has an outside shot at providing depth if there is an extra roster position. Previous prediction: Reshad Jones, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Michael Thomas, Walt Aikens

Special Teams (3)

P: Matt Darr
K: Andrew Franks
LS: John Denney

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

There was no competition in camp for Matt Darr, so he obviously will remain the punter. Marshall Koehn was the challenger to Andrew Franks, but Franks has clearly been the better option thus far. Ryan DiSalvo was brought in to challenge John Denney, but, unless the team thinks they can save money by going with the rookie, the 12 year veter in Denney should come out on top. Previous prediction: Matt Darr, Andrew Franks, John Denney