Reshad Jones – The unquestioned leader of the secondary has showed a complete ownership of the role in Week 2 against Dallas. He didn’t play much, but he made his presence known with some big hits on ball carriers. Jones will be relied on heavily after his 2015 Pro Bowl season to support the so-so linebacker corps as well as his cohorts in the secondary.
Isa Abdul-Quddus – The newcomer has made a strong case for the starting free safety position after two games in the preseason. Abdul-Quddus led the team with five tackles against the Cowboys last Friday and had a good looking interception of Dak Prescott until it was overturned by an unnecessary roughing the passer penalty.
Walt Aikens – I expected Aikens to challenge for the starting free safety role this year and while I’ve seen flashes in the first two games, he probably hasn’t done enough to wrestle away the starting position from Abdul-Quddus. Aikens has been a reliable second stringer for the past two seasons and I am personally hoping for him to breakthrough this season and become the starting free safety of the future for Miami.
Michael Thomas – That amazing game ending interception of Tom Brady in 2013 couldn’t feel farther away this preseason. Thomas has been a stable secondary backup for the Fins in years past, but he seems to be a step slow too often in these first couple of preseason games. He may have reached his peak and could be experiencing a low if it weren’t for the lack of depth at the safety position.
Shamiel Gary/A.J. Hendy – Currently Gary and Hendy are listed as 3rd string for free safety and strong safety respectively. While neither player has stood out in the first two preseason games, Gary knows the system in Miami as he played in six games last season and should make the roster if there is a fifth safety. Hendy will need to show some potential in the next two preseason games if he wishes to make the final 53-man roster.
Byron Maxwell – The direct replacement for Brent Grimes is Maxwell for the simple fact he’s the only proven starting defensive back on the Dolphins roster. He might be an improvement over Grimes for the simple fact that his wife ISN’T Miko Grimes. We are all hoping that he can instill some “Legion of Boom” sensibilities into the defensive backfield this season, but he’s only played briefly this preseason so there isn’t much to judge of him in the aqua and orange just yet.
Bobby McCain – The fact that McCain is currently listed as a 2nd string defensive back must be based on training camp results and not on what has happened in the preseason games. McCain has shown a lot of improvement from last season where he served as a solid nickel back option. He’s been consistent in coverage the past two weeks and his ability to break on routes is impressive. Although Xavien Howard will most likely be the starting corner opposite Maxwell at some point this season. It’s good to know we have McCain as an option in obvious passing situations.
Xavien Howard – His stock has gone up just by the fact that his competitors for playing time at the corner positions haven’t taken advantage of his absence. The lack of depth will force Howard into playing early and often which may lead to some growing pains against the likes of Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton in the first quarter of the season. Ultimately, Howard will either sink or swim this first season, but he should answer the question of whether the Dolphins have found the next Sam Madison or not. With his activation from the PUP list we should get our first glimpse of the rookie soon, according to Head Coach Adam Gase that glimpse won’t be until the final preseason game. This decision more than likely will keep Howard from being listed as the Week 1 starter.
Tony Lippett – This has to be the player I’ve been the most disappointed by in the first two weeks of preseason. Lippett made some good plays last year during the regular season and with the departure of Grimes I believed he would take his game to another level. I know he is listed as the starter on the current depth chart, but he has looked a step slow in both preseason games this year. It’s a small sample size to judge from for fans, so I have to believe the coaching staff sees something that we haven’t seen on game day yet. He will need to improve his game performance against the Falcons if he wants to be listed as the Week 1 starter in Seattle.
Al Louis-Jean/Chimdi Chekwa: These two are probably the best of the rest in the defensive back group that’s left. These two both have a good chance of making the final roster, but it may only be one of them with Chris Culliver sitting on the PUP list during most of this competition. Culliver has a spot on the roster waiting for him, but if he isn’t activated from the PUP list before the end of preseason he will be forced to sit out the first six weeks of the season.