5 Players Who Might Find Themselves on Miami Dolphins' Practice Squad in 2014
Training camp is just a few weeks away, which means there will soon be 90 players doing everything they can to make the Miami Dolphins' final 53-man roster.
Obviously, nearly half of those players will be unsuccessful in their attempt to make the team, but a select handful will make enough of an impression to be signed to the practice squad.
For those who are unfamiliar with NFL practice squads, there are a few eligibility requirements.
First of all, players are eligible if they don't have an accrued season of NFL experience, which is the equivalent of being on the active roster for at least six games.
If a player has one accrued season, he can still be practice squad-eligible if he was on the 45-man active game-day roster for less than nine regular-season games.
Finally, no player can serve on a practice squad for more than three seasons.
Put simply, the practice squad is used by teams to stash players of promise that they believe can either develop into game-day contributors or possibly serve as immediate depth in the event of an injury.
The Dolphins, like all NFL teams, will shuffle players on and off the practice squad throughout the year, but for now, let's take a look at the top candidates to end up there to start the 2014 season.
Terrence Fede, DL, Marist
At 6’4” and 276 pounds, Terrence Fede is an athletically gifted player who is still in need of plenty of development.
Despite being extremely productive while at Marist—he was as an All-American in 2013—he is still a very raw player.
He needs a ton of work on his technique, both with his leverage and his hands, but he has the talent and ability to eventually make an impact on the team.
The Dolphins took a flier on the talent of Fede in the seventh round, and considering the great depth they have at defensive line, it's very unlikely he shows any of that talent on game day at any point this season.
Harold 'Gator' Hoskins, TE, Marshall
Much like Charles Clay, Harold "Gator" Hoskins has shown throughout his collegiate career to have the ability to line up all over the field and give opposing defenses headaches.
Most importantly, though, at 6'2" and 263 pounds, he has a knack for finding the end zone.
He led the nation in touchdowns among tight ends in each of his last two seasons at Marshall, recording 10 in 2012 and 15 in 2013.
If he can show that same type of red-zone prowess throughout training camp, he may earn a spot on the roster as a versatile H-back.
However, the more likely scenario is that the undrafted free agent flashes some ability before being signed to the practice squad while continuing to develop his game.
Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
The No. 190 overall pick for the Dolphins, Matt Hazel appears destined for a redshirt year in 2014.
Much like some of the other receivers on the roster, he is a sure-handed weapon who runs very solid routes.
At 6'1" and 198 pounds, he has the potential to develop into a reliable possession receiver, but he isn't very fast or explosive and likely won't be thrust into action early on.
He also needs to get stronger, as he currently plays with too much finesse in his game, which will likely translate to him getting outmuscled at the line of scrimmage at the next level.
If a player were to go down with an injury during training camp, it's possible Hazel can sneak on as the last receiver on the active roster.
However, in all likelihood, he will spend the majority of this season on the practice squad.
Orleans Darkwa, RB, Tulane
With Knowshon Moreno expected to miss four to five weeks thanks to arthroscopic knee surgery—via ESPN's Adam Schefter—former Tulane running back Orleans Darkwa should get a long look early on during training camp.
The 6'0", 210-pound running back burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2010, rushing for 925 yards and 11 touchdowns in just six starts.
However, he soon was bit by the injury bug, which slowed him down for much of his collegiate career.
But after rushing for 863 yards and 12 touchdowns in his senior season, Darkwa turned heads at his pro day, where he ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, via Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post.
He is a strong, downhill runner who has a good burst off the line and is patient in waiting for blocks to develop.
He often runs too upright and needs to work on his ability as a receiver out of the backfield and as a blocker, but he has proved to have a nose for the end zone.
It's quite possible he earns a spot on the 53-man roster, but if that doesn't happen, expect to see him on the practice squad.
Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
At 6’2” and 308 pounds, Anthony Johnson was considered a potential first-round talent prior to 2013.
However, questions arose about his dedication, and a failed drug test at the NFL combine dropped him out of the draft completely, via Fox Sports' Jay Glazer.
Working with defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers should do wonders for Johnson, and he is capable of becoming an intriguing player if he can get his head straight.
He is a versatile talent who could eventually develop into a quality starter for Miami.
There's no doubt that he is going to fight throughout training camp for a spot on the 53-man roster and will end up being one of the last cuts, if he gets cut at all.
Right now, his technique is a bit raw, as he can struggle with his hand placement and leverage at times.
Although both problems are easily correctable with the right coaching, combining them with the depth the Dolphins have on the defensive line may end up forcing Johnson to the practice squad to start the season.