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90-in-90 Miami Dolphins roster breakdown: T.J. McDonald

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NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Part three of the annual 90-in-90 series is here as we continue an in-depth look at the Miami Dolphins’ roster. Throughout the next few months, we will break down each player on the roster, looking at what they did in 2017, the expectation of growth in 2018, or the possible regression, and whether or not we think the player will make the final 53-man roster.

Yesterday, we looked at punter Matt Haack. Today, we continue with safety T.J. McDonald, who is entering his second year with the team.

2017 Review

McDonald joined the Dolphins last March after spending the 2013-2016 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. He was notified that he would be suspended the first eight games of the season due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Even though he would be suspended, Adam Gase named McDonald the team’s starter opposite Reshad Jones. The Dolphins were so impressed with McDonald during training camp and the preseason that they decided the give him a contract extension before the season began.

McDonald made his season debut in week 10 against the Carolina Panthers. He actually recorded his season high of nine tackles during that game. For the season, McDonald recorded 45 tackles (31 solo), 3 pass deflections, and 1 interception.

Why he will progress

During the offseason, there was talk about moving McDonald to linebacker. But Gase shot down those rumors as he stated the team was not planning on moving him, even after drafting Minkah Fitzpatrick.

McDonald is an aggressive safety that plays the run well, sort of like Jones. The Dolphins could look to utilize three safeties on the field or use one, most likely McDonald, as a hybrid linebacker.

After only playing 8 games with the Dolphins, we really haven’t seen much of McDonald. The verdict is still out on him, after such a small sample size.

Chances of making the 53-man roster

Even with the addition of Fitzpatrick, McDonald should fine a home on the roster. The Dolphins obviously have a plan for the trio of safeties.