The Miami Dolphins are mid-way through their preseason schedule, with two games complete and two games remaining, before the start of the regular season. A lot of adjustments and decisions are still to be made, but we also are starting to get an idea of how the roster may shake out once cuts are made.
The league now allows teams to carry all 90 players on their preseason roster throughout the entire summer, cutting straight from 90 to the 53-man roster limit after the final preseason game. That gives teams a little more time to see some of their potential bubble players, while also keeping more players available for the fourth preseason game - a game where the starters and key contributors will play little if any.
At the mid-way point of the preseason, we update our depth chart prediction for the team:
The quarterbacks remain the same as they have through the last two iterations of the depth chart prediction. Fales has not yet solidified the position, having struggled in the second preseason game, but he still feels like the more consistent of the options, with Brock Osweiler struggling and Bryce Petty not yet reaching playing time with the second team.
Running backs (4)
Buddy Howell continues to be the name that could pop onto the roster if the team is willing to sacrifice a roster spot somewhere else. Right now, I will keep him as a practice squad player, because I do not see the team keeping five running backs unless Howell explodes on special teams the next couple of weeks.
Wide receivers (6)
Still keeping the wide receivers at six, with Ford filling the final spot, but I am not as sure about that as I was a couple of weeks ago. Ford has played well, but he is not as definite a keep as he seemed prior to the start of the preseason. Leonte Carroo feels like he is moving toward the roster based on the team using him more on special teams, but he definitely needs to have an impact in a game over the final two preseason weeks. Francis Owusu has thrown his name into consideration for that last spot, but needs to have special teams impact and a good offensive showing as well.
Tight ends (4)
Shook up the depth chart order, but no change to the players making the roster. Gesicki appears to be the definitive starter at this point, with Gray coming in for two tight end sets (assuming his concussion does not become a long-term issue). Smythe and Derby fill out the roster position. The Dolphins gave a lot of special teams playing time to Gavin Escobar, so he could be a player they are evaluating for a possible roster spot, but five tight ends feels hard to keep.
Offensive linemen (9)
Eric Smith fell off the projection after receiving just nine snaps in the team’s second preseason game, opening up a roster position for Brendel, who has been dealing with a calf injury. I am not convinced that is a locked in position, but it feels like the coaches are leaning that way. Mike Matthews played the most among the offensive line in the second game, with Zach Sterup playing one fewer snap. Both of those players feel like developmental options the team could try to stash on the practice squad or at the end of the roster.
Defensive ends (6)
Added Malveaux to the depth chart here, mostly because the team seems to be using him a lot right now. He played 17 snaps this past week, and he seems to be someone the team likes. He will be buried on the depth chart, but he could be a young player the team looks to keep for another year.
Defensive tackle (4)
With the addition of Malveaux to the roster, a space had to be made somewhere, and that came at the expense of Jamiyus Pittman. The undrafted free agent has fallen off the radar during the two preseason games, which could be pushing him off the roster. The Dolphins will likely use Hayes, who is battling a hamstring injury right now, as a defensive end and defensive tackle this year, so there is still depth at the position with only four players on the roster.
The linebackers have to start playing better, with McMillan appearing to make rookie mistakes - given his rookie season was wiped out last year due to injury - and Baker needing to adjust to his role as well. Anthony has been disappointing as well. Poling needs to make an impact on special teams, and Hull’s injury could make the team have to find a way to keep another linebacker on the roster. Chase Allen and Terence Garvin are likely candidates to keep that spot.
At this point, I have no idea how to build the cornerback depth chart after Howard. Will it be McCain? Lippett? McTyer? Tankersley? It feels like that is the roster, with Fitzpatrick filling a role as well from the safety position, but it could be any combination of playing time for that group. Someone needs to take charge as the starter on the boundary, and they need to do it soon.
This may be the position I most tried to add a player, but cannot figure out where to find the spot. I wanted to get Maurice Smith on the roster, but I may not be able to do it. Jones, Fitzpatrick, and McDonald are a trio of starters at the two safety positions, while Aikens in a special teams ace.
Special Teams (3)
John Denney - Long Snapper
Matt Haack - Punter
Jason Sanders - Kicker
No changes here, but the battle between Sanders and Greg Joseph continues to be about even.
Practice Squad (10)
Cayson Collins - Linebacker
Jalen Davis - Cornerback
Thomas Duarte - Tight end
Mike Matthews - Center
Buddy Howell - Running back
Claudy Mathieu - Defensive end
Cornell Armstrong - Cornerback
Drew Morgan - Wide receiver
Jamiyus Pittman - Defensive tackle
Eric Smith - Tackle
The practice squad was shaken up. Quincy Redmon, Connor Hilland, and David Steinmetz fell off the ten-man unit, while Mike Matthews, Jamiyus Pittman, and Eric Smith all are added. Cornell Armstrong and Torry McTyer swapped positions on the roster/practice squad, given McTyer is in consideration for a starting role.