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Miami Dolphins roster 2023: Bubble watch and 53-man roster projection for Preseason Week 2

The Miami Dolphins have an off day on Tuesday before ramping up for their second preseason game of the year. It seems like a perfect time to reset our 53-man roster projection.

Atlanta Falcons v Miami Dolphins Photo by Bryan Cereijo/Getty Images

The NFL calendar is moving into the second week of the 2023 preseason, including the scheduled Saturday game between the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans. Miami flew to Texas on Monday, with a rest day on Tuesday before they start a two-day joint practice session with the Texans. Friday will be another off day before the two teams take the field with a 4 p.m. ET kickoff Saturday afternoon.

The team dropped their first preseason game last Friday, falling to the Atlanta Falcons 19-3. The results of the game do not matter in the long run, but the performances on the field do, especially for players who might be on the roster bubble and are looking to secure a spot on the regular season 53-man roster. Today’s off day for the Dolphins gives us the perfect time to reset our 53-man roster projection.

Quarterbacks (3)

Tua Tagovailoa
Skylar Thompson
Mike White

Changes: None.

Released players: None.

There is a lot of speculation that Thompson could find himself released or headed to the practice squad after some struggles against the Falcons. That does not seem likely with the league’s new emergency quarterback rules, where the team can have their third quarterback listed as inactive on game day, but then bring him into the game should both quarterbacks in front of him be injured. The emergency quarterback must be a member of the 53-man roster if the team plans to use this option, not a practice squad player who has been elevated for the game. Keeping all three quarterbacks on the roster is the right move.

Running backs (4)

De’Von Achane (R)
Myles Gaskin
Raheem Mostert
Jeff Wilson, Jr.

Fullback (1)

Alec Ingold

Changes: None.

Released players: Salvon Ahmed, Chris Brooks (R)

We had Gaskin edging ahead of Ahmed last week based on training camp practices. His performance against the Falcons, where he ran the ball seven times for 57 yards and caught two passes for 20 yards, all while only playing 15 snaps, confirmed that move. The news that the New York Jets are signing Dalvin Cook ends any speculation that Miami could try to add the Pro Bowl running back to the group.

Ahmed could re-assert himself into the competition, especially if he shows out on special teams this week, but it feels like Gaskin is easily ahead of him right now. Miami will likely look to slide Brooks onto the practice squad.

Tight ends (3)

Elijah Higgins (R)
Eric Saubert
Durham Smythe

Changes: Tyler Kroft off, Elijah Higgins on.

Bubble Watch: Elijah Higgins (R) vs. Tyler Kroft. Higgins making the transition from college wide receiver to NFL tight end pushed Kroft ahead of Higgins in the previous projection. After the first preseason game, Higgins appears ready to at least have some role on the offense. He lined up at fullback, he caught passes, and he looks like someone who, with more development, could add a dynamic to the offense that Kroft does not. This position battle could continue through the preseason, but it feels like Higgins moved up. Result:

Released players: Tanner Conner - Physically Unable to Perform, Julian Hill (R), Tyler Kroft

The Dolphins are looking to use their tight ends as sixth offensive linemen first, pass catching options second. Smythe is a solid all-around type of tight end and Saubert gives them the blocking option they want. Higgins will be more of a pass catcher, but he can continue to develop behind them and provide an outlet when needed for Tagovailoa. Kroft falling off the roster does take away a blocking tight end, but Miami needs the roster space and he falls to the wrong side of the bubble here.

Wide receivers (6)

Braxton Berrios
Robbie Chosen
Erik Ezukanma
Tyreek Hill
Jaylen Waddle
Cedrick Wilson, Jr.

Changes: None.

Bubble Watch: River Cracraft. Keeping seven wide receivers would be tough for the Dolphins, but Cracraft could force his way onto the roster. Where the team would have to lose some depth to add another receiver would be the biggest question. How Cracraft plays against the Texans could go a long way toward seeing where his bubble lands.

Released players: River Cracraft, Chris Coleman (R), Daewood Davis (R), Keke Coutee (Signed 8/13), Braylon Sanders (Freddie Swain released by the team 8/13)

No changes among the receivers. Wilson is still the question mark in the group and could be the primary third receiver, he could be traded, or he could be buried on the depth chart. Ezukanma’s use during the Falcons game, including two end around runs, could signal the team has a package for him, or those could be plays that are designed for Hill and Waddle, but those two were not playing and Miami wanted to work on the design. Wherever Berrios lands on the receiving depth chart, he is making the roster as the team’s primary returner. Chosen had an injury keep him from playing on Friday, but it feels like the team will keep him.

Offensive line (9)

Terron Armstead, T
Lester Cotton, G
Liam Eichenberg, G
Dan Feeney, G/C
Robert Hunt, G
Austin Jackson, T
Kendall Lamm, T
Connor Williams, C
Isaiah Wynn, G/T

Changes: Lester Cotton on.

Bubble Watch: Lester Cotton and Robert Jones. Both players could be worthy of roster slots, but where do those slots come from? Cotton has the lead between these two, but Jones could work his way into contention as well. This is where cuts get tough.

Released players: Geron Christian, Ryan Hayes (R), Robert Jones, Cedric Ogbuehi, Kion Smith, James Tunstall, Alama Uluave (R)

There just was no way to leave Cotton off the roster at this point. He could become the starting left guard by the time the summer is over as the position battle there continues. Keeping Cotton gives Miami Eichenberg, Wynn, Cotton, and maybe Fenney to solidify that one guard slot. Lamm will serve as the primary swing tackle, able to fill in for either Armstead or Jackson, while Wynn provides some emergency depth outside. If it becomes a serious issue, sliding Hunt out to tackle and replacing him with one of the guard options could be in play as well. Center Alama Uluave, who played all 66 snaps against the Falcons the only player to play the entire game, could be a practice squad player if Miami likes his potential as a future starting center for the team.

Defensive linemen (5)

Raekwon Davis
Emmanuel Ogbah
Brandon Pili (R)
Zach Sieler
Christian Wilkins

Changes: Da’Shawn Hand, on, Jaylen Twyman off, Brandon Pili (R) on.

Bubble Watch: Brandon Pili, Jaylen Twyman. We are probably going to continue to see Pili and Twyman floating right on the bubble line. Both players have made flashes that could land them on the roster, but roster space could tighten up quickly, especially with nine offensive linemen and seven wide receivers as possibilities.

Released players: Josian Bronson, Da’Shawn Hand, Jaylen Twyman

The bubble watch here between Pili and Twyman could be a moot point if Miami keeps six defensive linemen (still counting Ogbah as a defensive end, even though he is also working as a linebacker and Miami’s primary edge rushers will be outside linebackers this year). The problem is needing the extra roster spot for Cotton lead to Twyman missing the roster in this projection. There is not a lot of depth here, but the practice squad will likely be used to make sure that is not a season-long issue.

Linebackers (8)

Jerome Baker
Bradley Chubb
David Long, Jr.
Jalean Phillips
Malik Reed
Duke Riley
Channing Tindall
Andrew Van Ginkel

Changes: None.

Bubble Watch: Mitchell Agude (R), Aubrey Miller (R). Both players have flashed at times, Agude as an edge rusher, Miller as an inside linebacker. How they play this week might be a deciding factor in Miami’s ability to find a roster spot for them.

Released players: Mitchell Agude (R), Randy Charlton, Cameron Goode, Aubrey Miller (R), Garrett Nelson (R), Mike Rose

The depth at linebacker is strange - it feels like there is not a lot there, but then every player has done things that should make them solid players if needed for extended periods of time. Baker and Long are the starting inside linebackers, with Chubb and Phillips outside. Van Ginkel is an edge rusher who has been working inside this year, providing depth at multiple positions as well as creating options for getting him on the field more. Riley will provide solid inside depth with Reed adding depth outside. Tindall appears to be growing into his role in the middle of the group and should continue to grow there. Add in Ogbah’s ability to play as an outside linebacker, and you have more depth than maybe it looks at first glance. The roster bubble might pop exactly on Miller, who could be player 54 for the 53-man roster. Agude and Miller are both probably practice squad players.

Cornerbacks (6)

Eli Apple
Xavien Howard
Noah Igbinoghene
Kader Kohou
Jalen Ramsey
Cam Smith (R)

Changes: None.

Released players: Justin Bethel, Ethan Bonner (R), Keion Crossen, Tino Ellis, Parry Nickerson, Jamal Perry (Signed 8/13), Bryce Thompson (Mark Gilbert was waived/injured by the team 8/13.)

Physically Unable to Perform List: Nik Needham

Ramsey costs us a roster spot for a day as he has to start the season on the 53-man roster, then be placed on injured reserve, if Miami plans to bring him back during the season. Once he is placed on IR, Miami could look to bring back someone they released in the roster cuts - Bethel or Crossen could make sense, or they could go with five cornerbacks to create the extra wide receiver slot to keep Cracraft. Perry being added to the roster is an interesting move - he continues to be that borderline player who hangs around and could be called upon if needed. He feels like a practice squad player, but who knows when it comes to Perry. As for the starter opposite Howard while Ramsey recovers, Smith would appear to be in the lead, but Igbinoghene is not giving up on the position battle yet. Kohou will still factor into the fight as well.

Safeties (5)

Elijah Campbell
DeShon Elliott
Jevon Holland
Brandon Jones
Trill Williams

Changes: None.

Bubble Watch: Keidron Smith (R). The undrafted free agent has been flashing in training camp practices, had a good game against the Falcons, and may be forcing his way onto the roster. If the Dolphins can find a roster spot, Smith may be battling with Miller for that final position.

Released players: Myles Dorn, Verone McKinley III, Keidron Smith (R)

The top five seem fairly well locked in. Campbell started the game against the Falcons and could actually be pushing to start next to Holland, seemingly jumping over Jones and Elliott to do so. Williams is converting from cornerback to safety after missing last season with a knee injury and may need some time to get fully healthy and fully comfortable with the position. If Smith continues to put forward strong practice and game performances, he might have to be on the roster somehow.

Special Teams (3)

Jake Bailey - Punter
Blake Ferguson - Long Snapper
Jason Sanders - Kicker

Changes: None.

Released players: None.

Pretty straight forward.