Another week of the 2023 NFL Preseason has come and gone, leaving us with one more tune-up game before the start of the regular season. The Miami Dolphins are headed up I95 in Florida this weekend to face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the preseason finale, then will have an off week before the start of the regular season. This week’s game is likely going to focus on the younger players and the roster bubble, rather than on getting the starters extended playing time.
Miami’s starters did play in the team’s 28-3 victory over the Houston Texans this past Saturday and the team looked like they were starting to find their offensive rhythm. Even when the starters were pulled, the Dolphins were able to effectively move the ball and put points on the board, something they struggled to do against the Atlanta Falcons in Preseason Week 1.
As we close in on the preseason finale, it is time to update our projection for the Dolphins’ 53-man roster. There is only one round of cuts this season, rather than having multiple cuts during the preseason, keeping the 90-man roster limit in place until August 29. We last took a look at the Dolphins’ 90-man roster and predicted who will make the 53-man version a week ago. How did the win over the Texans change things?
Released players: James Blackman (Released on 8/7, Re-signed on 8/21).
After a tough Preseason Week 1 performance, Thompson bounced back strong against the Texans. White sustained a concussion in the game, leading to the team bringing back Blackman for Preseason Week 3. Assuming White’s concussion is not a lingering issue that leads into the season, the team will move forward with Tagovailoa, Thompson, and White.
Running backs (5)
De’Von Achane (R)
Jeff Wilson, Jr.
Changes: Salvon Ahmed on.
Released players: Chris Brooks (R)
I do not know how to break down this group other than to think Miami is going to keep five running backs, even though that seems like using way too many roster spots on the position. Add in that Brooks will probably end up on the practice squad, and the Dolphins will be flush at the running back position. Achane’s shoulder injury could force him to miss playing time into the season, with head coach Mike McDaniel calling him “week-to-week,” which may make the addition of Ahmed back onto the roster the correct move. Maybe the Dolphins try to waive one of Ahmed or Gaskin and then sign them to the practice squad, but they have both had strong days in the preseason and may have made themselves waiver wire targets if Miami releases them.
Tight ends (3)
Elijah Higgins (R)
Bubble Watch: Elijah Higgins (R) vs. Tyler Kroft vs. Julian Hill (R). Higgins may have slipped a little in the race for the final tight-end roster spot, but Kroft does not seem to have put himself in any position to claim the spot. Hill is rising up the depth chart quickly and could pull off an upset in this battle.
Released players: Tanner Conner, Julian Hill (R), Tyler Kroft
I am giving the roster spot to Higgins right now because of his draft stock, but if you want to argue that Hill has surpassed him already, I would probably agree with that too. Connor was activated from the physically unable-to-perform list on Tuesday and he could challenge for a roster spot, though that might actually be Saubert’s position rather than pushing off one of the rookies. Miami could decide to go with just two tight ends on the active roster, turning to Ingold to serve as a fullback and a tight end, which would make the five running backs a little easier to justify.
Wide receivers (5)
Cedrick Wilson, Jr.
Changes: Robbie Chosen off.
Bubble Watch: River Cracraft. Last week the bubble watch was trying to justify a seventh wide receiver on the roster. This week, we only have five making it onto the roster. Cracraft is still the bubble player, however. The team would like to keep him, but it is a numbers game and he is on the wrong side in this projection.
Released players: River Cracraft, Robbie Chosen, Chris Coleman (R), Daewood Davis (R), Keke Coutee (Signed 8/13), Braylon Sanders
Chosen should make the roster, but in needing a tough cut, he was the one. When cornerback Jalen Ramsey is moved to injured reserve, Miami could look to fill his roster slot with either Chosen or Cracraft. Wilson is still hanging around due to his salary cap number (he would provide $2 million in cap saving this year, but would still have $6 million in dead money). The practice squad will have to supplement this group.
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
Bubble Watch: Lester Cotton and Robert Jones. Jones’ injury could cost him his spot in the roster battle, a battle that could see him go from potential starter at left guard to off the roster. Cotton feels like a lock for the roster now.
Released players: Geron Christian, Ryan Hayes (R), Robert Jones, Cedric Ogbuehi, Kion Smith, James Tunstall, Alama Uluave (R)
The starting offensive line is likely Armstead at left tackle, Wynn at left guard, Williams at center, Hunt at right guard, and Jackson at right tackle, though Cotton and Eichenberg may not be out of the running for Wynn’s spot yet. Jones’ injury does seem to settle the position group a little.
Defensive linemen (5)
Brandon Pili (R)
Bubble Watch: Da’Shawn Hand, Jaylen Twyman. Last week, this was Pili and Twyman listed on the bubble, but it really feels like Pili is at least close to being a roster lock. Hand and Twyman are battling to force Miami to keep a fifth interior lineman. Can they find the roster space to make it happen?
Released players: Josian Bronson, Da’Shawn Hand, Jaylen Twyman
A starting lineup of Wilkins, Davis, and Sieler gives Miami a strong unit up front. Pili can rotate in as needed. Ogbah will be a hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker. I am leaning toward adding Hand, just to give the position a veteran depth option, but right now I need the roster spot.
David Long, Jr.
Andrew Van Ginkel
Bubble Watch: Mitchell Agude (R), Aubrey Miller (R). No change here to the bubble watch. Agude as an edge rusher and Miller as an inside linebacker both have paths to the roster, but the hill has gotten steeper than it was at the start of training camp.
Released players: Mitchell Agude (R), Randy Charlton, Cameron Goode, Aubrey Miller (R), Garrett Nelson (R), Mike Rose
Baker, Chubb, Long, and Phillips will start, with Reed, Riley, Tindall, and Van Ginkel serving as the backups. Van Ginkel will work as both an outside, edge-rushing linebacker and as an interior option when needed. Reed (and Ogbah) give the team depth as edge rushers. Riley and Tindall serve as interior depth.
Cam Smith (R)
Released players: Justin Bethel, Ethan Bonner (R), Keion Crossen, Parry Nickerson, Jamal Perry (Signed 8/13), Bryce Thompson (Tino Ellis was waived/injured 8/21)
Physically Unable to Perform List: Nik Needham
Ramsey will still be on the roster at final cuts but then will be placed on injured reserve the next day, a move that, under league rules, will allow the team to activate him during the season if he is cleared. Needham seems destined for the Reserve/PUP list, costing him at least the first four games. Howard will start on one side while it appears a combination of Igbinoghene and Kohou will serve as the starter and nickel options. Apple could factor into the starting battle still, but it feels like he is the veteran depth option at this point. If Miami were to use Ramsey’s spot to add another cornerback, Perry could find himself back with the team again.
Bubble Watch: Keidron Smith (R). How can the Dolphins get Smith onto the roster? Right now, it does not look like they can, but they better hope he can get cleared through waivers and signs to the practice squad because there is talent here.
Released players: Myles Dorn, Verone McKinley III, Keidron Smith (R)
This feels like a locked-down position at this point. Smith is the only real wildcard, but he is probably a practice squad addition.
Special Teams (3)
Jake Bailey - Punter
Blake Ferguson - Long Snapper
Jason Sanders - Kicker
Released players: None.
Nothing really happening here.