Miami Dolphins: 5 Players Firmly on the Roster Bubble
As teams begin mini camps and begin getting ready for training camp, they will begin focusing their attention on players who will be on the team when the regular season starts.
Then there are those that have little-to-no shot at making the team and are just there because teams need extra bodies. These players would need close to a miracle for them to be considered for a roster spot.
And then there are those that are neither guaranteed a roster spot nor are they just there to be an extra body. These are the players that need to practice hard every day and will only need a few plays to impress coaches.
These are the players that are on the bubble as of right now.
Jeff Fuller is in a very interesting position. He wasn't drafted, so there is no pressure for the coaching staff to give him a roster spot, but he was Ryan Tannehill's favorite target at Texas A&M.
Fuller has the body needed to be successful in the NFL and has already experienced playing in a West Coast offense. He will not be the top receiver on the team in the coming years, but as he gains experience he can become very successful.
A week ago, Fuller was almost expected to make the roster as the Dolphins were fairly thin at the wide receiver position. However, after Miami went out and signed Chad Ochocinco, that takes away a roster spot for a wide receiver that Fuller may have had locked up.
With Ochocinco's signing, I fully expect Fuller to bring his experience into this offense and grab one of the last roster spots.
When HBO begins filming for Hard Knocks, there will be few more interesting stories than that of Les Brown, basketball player turned accountant turned football player.
The bad news for Les Brown is that Miami seems to have more skilled players at the tight end position. The good news for Les Brown is that Miami will use a lot of tight ends this season.
With Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay and Michael Egnew looking to be the top three tight ends on Miami's roster, Brown will have to battle Will Yeatman and Jeron Mastrud for the fourth tight end spot. It's still unclear how many tight ends Miami will carry into the season, but they have three very good tight ends already and may look to add more receivers instead.
Brown is by no means out of the competition, but he will have to proove to the coaches that he belongs on the team. It would be a great story if Brown were to make the team, but he still has a big hill to climb.
Steve Slaton hasn't been a feature back in his time with the Dolphins. He has carried the ball only a few times and it's hard to think that will change this season.
Reggie Bush will still be the primary back, taking most of the carries.
Daniel Thomas will have a year under his belt and the Dolphins will be looking to lean on him a lot on short-yardage and goal-line situations.
The Dolphins also went out and signed Jerome Messam from the Canadian Football League. He projects more as a fullback that will also help in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Miami also went out and drafted Lamar Miller. Miller brings versatility to the Dolphins offense and his speed will definitely help him earn a roster spot.
That leaves Steve Slaton as the fifth running back on the depth chart. It's hard to think that Miami, with the new offense they are installing, will need five running backs.
Unless Slaton proves that he is an asset that this team can't pass on, it will be hard for him to be considered as part of the team when the regular season starts.
Jacquies Smith was a solid college player a the University of Missouri. He wasn't spectacular, which may be the reason he didn't get drafted, but he brings pass rushing qualities that can certainly help any team.
The problem for Smith is that Miami already has good depth at the defensive line, players like Jared Odrick, Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Tony McDaniel and you can every throw in Cam Wake as a defensive end. Miami also drafted Kheeston Randall and Olivier Vernon, which limits Smith's possibility to make the team.
There is still a chance Smith proves his skills are valuable to the team and may steal a roster spot, but he really needs to impress the coaches for them to consider that. He needs to play with intensity at every practice, and when the preseason begins, he needs to show what he is capable of.
Smith has the ability to make the team, but will really need to shine in the next couple months. He has potential as a tough defensive player and can be an asset to the team in the future.
Jonas Gray has yet to be seen with a Dolphins uniform out on the practice field. He tore his ACL during the last game of his senior season and has yet to be cleared to play.
However, the Dolphins are clearly impressed with what he did in his senior season to still have him around. Gray will most likely start training camp on the PUP list, but the Dolphins have high hopes for him.
Gray is a powerful runner who is capable of playing fullback as well. Once training camp begins, he will be in a heated battle with Jerome Messam and even Steve Slaton. With Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller as the top three running backs, Gray may have a possibility of being No. 4.
He has the ability to run through the tackles for big yardage and also gain two or three yards on a third-and-short situation.
I really think Gray can outperform Messam if he's able to come back 100 percent healthy and can be the one that ultimately kicks Steve Slaton out of the running-back competition.