Miami Dolphins: 5 Players Firmly on the Roster Bubble
Currently, NFL rosters include 90 players. During the regular season, NFL rosters contain only 53 players. This means that a lot of the players currently competing for roster spots will not be with the team when they open the season against the Cleveland Browns.
Miami has brought in a lot of competition this year as opposed to last year. There are some talented players that will likely not make the roster because of the depth the Dolphins currently possess.
There are those who are only being used as camp bodies. There are those who have a secure roster spot. Then there are those who are competing daily in order to impress coaches and convince them that they belong on the team.
Here are a few players that are currently on the bubble. Every practice or game this offseason can make or break their chance of making the 53-man roster.
Linebacker Josh Kaddu was drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. He was a member of the practice squad last season and is once again trying to find a spot on the roster.
Kaddu hasn't shown he can be a contributor at the next level yet, but he has been improving. One thing that may cost him a spot on the roster again this year is the fact that Miami drafted Jelani Jenkins in the fourth round, and their decision to get younger at the position.
With Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett holding down two of the starting positions at linebacker last year, it was evident Miami needed to get younger at the position. They addressed that this offseason when they signed Phillip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe to take over the starting duties.
With Koa Misi penciled in as the third starter, it would have been easy to see Kaddu brought into the 53-man roster for depth. However, Miami has Austin Spitler, Jonathan Freeny, Jason Trusnik and Jenkins, who all appear to be ahead of Kaddu.
In order to make the roster, he will not only have to compete against the aforementioned players, but also against all the linebackers Miami has brought into camp. Kaddu already has one year of experience playing on the practice squad, and I see him rejoining the squad this season.
After suffering a torn ACL during his last game at Notre Dame, running back Jonas Gray was signed as an undrafted rookie last season. Due to his injury, he was placed in the PUP list all season and was unable to show coaches what he's capable of.
The Miami coaching staff has to like Gray in order to keep him around all last season even when they knew he would not be able to play a down. Having healed from his injury, Gray has been showing why the Dolphins were so high on him.
Miami will likely carry three or four running backs this season. Lamar Miller is the starter. Behind him, it appears that there's a battle between Mike Gillislee and Daniel Thomas. Miami will likely carry Marcus Thigpen, who is used in kick and punt returns. That leaves Jonas Gray as the odd man out.
Gray is a powerful runner who can be used for short-yardage and red zone situations. Thomas is also used for the same situations. If Gray is able to outperform Thomas, which wouldn't be surprising, Gray would go into the season as the third running back on Miami's roster.
Currently, Gray appears to be on the outside looking in, and Miami may want him on the practice squad next season.
Miami's wide receiver group is much improved this year. Jeff Ireland made it a priority to give Ryan Tannehill weapons in order to succeed. Mike Wallace is the No. 1 receiver, Brian Hartline is the No. 2 receiver, Brandon Gibson is the No. 3 and slot receiver and Dustin Keller will be used as a pass-catching tight end.
Behind them, is everybody else.
Last year, Rishard Matthews came in as a rookie and showed he has potential. This year, he has shown some improvement and may be cementing himself as the fourth wide receiver.
Then there's Armon Binns. He was brought in late last year but didn't really have an opportunity to prove himself. However, he has taken every opportunity he has had in camp and has become one of the surprise players.
There is a lot of competition at wide receiver, especially at the bottom of the depth chart. Binns has really proven he can contribute this year, and if he continues his high level of play, he will find himself in the 53-man roster.
Like the wide receiver group, the cornerback group looks a lot different than it did last season. Last year's No. 1 cornerback, Sean Smith, is no longer with the team. Instead, Miami brought in Brent Grimes to take over those responsibilities. Richard Marshall will return from a season-ending back injury and take over as the second cornerback on the roster.
They also doubled-up on cornerbacks in this year's draft when they selected Jamar Taylor in the second round and Will Davis in the third.
This leaves the rest of the cornerback group in limbo, especially Dimitri Patterson. Nolan Carroll and R.J. Stanford may also be on the bubble, but their salary is not as big as Patterson's. If Patterson goes into the season as the fifth cornerback on the depth chart, it's hard to imagine Miami keeping him when they can pay Carroll or Stanford a lot less.
Patterson played late last year after the Dolphins picked him up off the waiver list. He didn't prove much during the time he played and hasn't stood out thus far in camp. If he's not able to climb up to the third spot on the roster when the season begins, I don't see the Dolphins keeping him around.
Kelcie McCray is another player who spent last season on the reserve list because of injury after being signed as an undrafted rookie.
The Dolphins seem to like what they've seen from him so far, but he will have to outperform other players in order to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. Reshad Jones is the unquestioned starter at one of the safety spots. Next to him, Chris Clemons appears to be the answer for now. After Clemons, anything goes.
Jimmy Wilson is being groomed at safety and could be looked at as the third safety on the depth chart. The Dolphins drafted Don Jones as a cornerback in the seventh round but have been using him as a safety throughout OTAs and will most likely keep him there during training camp.
McCray's competition will come from Jones as the other safeties currently on the roster are just camp bodies. Jones has been impressive early in the offseason, and if he continues to impress the coaches, McCray may be looking at the practice squad this season.
Even though McCray hasn't shown much during OTAs, the Dolphins believe he has what it takes to play in the league and he should be one of the backups at safety this season.