Last Audition

The Dolphins close out their preseason schedule Wednesday night with a game at Dallas that will mean nothing to the established veterans but could mean everything to the younger players. Rosters must be cut to 53 players by Friday night at 9 p.m., and the Dallas game is the last chance for players to impress Coach Joe Philbin and GM Jeff Ireland.

Although we can imagine Ireland and Philbin have a pretty good idea which players will be kept and which ones will be cut, it's also likely that one or more jobs could be won Wednesday night.

With that in mind, here's a look at how the roster battles shape up hours before the last preseason game:

QUARTERBACKS

On the roster: Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, David Garrard, Pat Devlin

Number likely to be kept: 3

Analysis: The big question here is, what to do with Garrard? He hasn't practice since the week of the preseason opener and might still be a couple of weeks away. On the flip side, as an established veteran quarterback, he's clearly an asset. So do the Dolphins waive him injured or do they carry him on the roster and try to trade either him or Moore? Tough call ahead.

What to watch against Dallas: At this position, the only thing at stake against Dallas would be Devlin giving the Dolphins another reason to keep him on the active roster.

RUNNING BACKS

On the roster: Reggie Bush, Lamar Miller, Steve Slaton, Marcus Thigpen, Daniel Thomas, Jorvorskie Lane

Number likely to be kept: 5

Analysis: This is perhaps the deepest position on the roster, even with the "Hard Knocks" revelation that Thomas is in Philbin's doghouse. It's also a position where the Dolphins could use an asset in a trade for, say, a wide receiver. Bush appears to be the only lock to be on the 53-man roster, although it's hard to envision the Dolphins cutting loose Lamar Miller as a rookie fourth-round pick and it also appears that Lane has won a job at fullback.

What to watch against Dallas: This is about Marcus Thigpen. He has been returning punts and kickoffs for Miami, but probably is on the outside looking in heading into the game.

WIDE RECEIVERS

On the roster: Davone Bess, Legedu Naanee, Brian Hartline, Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore, B.J. Cunningham, Rishard Matthews, Chris Hogan, Jeff Fuller, Clyde Gates

Number likely to be kept: 5

Analysis: This probably is the most unsettled group on the roster. Beyond Bess, and maybe Naanee, there's absolutely nothing that's a given at wide receiver. The "X" factor at this position, of course, is Hartline, who has missed virtually all of training camp with a calf injury but is a solid starter when healthy.

What to watch against Dallas: There doesn't seem to be a lot of separation between the fourth and 10th receivers on this team, and anybody with a big game against the Cowboys could steal a roster spot that way. Gates is only in his second year, but this actually could be a make-or-break game for him.

TIGHT ENDS

On the roster: Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay, Jeron Mastrud, Michael Egnew

Number likely to be kept: 3

Analysis: The prospect of acquiring Chris Cooley is intriguing because the Dolphins have decent depth at tight end, but nobody as established as a pass-catching threat as him. Unless the Dolphins make a move here, the only decision would be whether to keep three or four tight ends.

What to watch against Dallas: The Dolphins aren't going to cut Egnew because they drafted him in the third round this year, but based on what we've seen so far, he's not going to get much playing time as a rookie. Maybe a strong preseason finale could jump-start him.

OFFENSIVE LINE

On the roster: Jake Long, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, Artis Hicks, Jonathan Martin, John Jerry, Ryan Cook, Lydon Murtha, Nate Garner, Josh Samuda, Will Yeatman, Andrew McDonald, Will Barker, Chandler Burden, Ray Feinga

Number likely to be kept: 3

Analysis: Injuries have been a problem on the line throughout camp, the latest being the knee injury that will keep Long out of the Dallas game (he probably wouldn't have played anyway). The Dolphins also need to settle the question of who will start at right guard and what the backup group will look like.

What to watch against Dallas: Martin moved to left tackle at practice on Monday after Long was injured and it will be interesting to see if that's where he lines up against the Cowboys. Either way, he figures to get plenty of reps because he needs to work. Also keep an eye on the right guard spot. Hicks didn't play against Atlanta last Friday and needs to work, and Jerry is the great mystery on the line, one minute getting ripped on "Hard Knocks," the next starting against Atlanta.

DEFENSIVE LINE

On the roster: Jared Odrick, Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Cameron Wake, Tony McDaniel, Derrick Shelby, Olivier Vernon, Ryan Baker, Jarrell Root, Kheeston Randall, Jamaal Westerman, Isaako Aaitui

Number likely to be kept: 8

Analysis: The Dolphins have a starting front four good enough to rival just about any other in the league, but depth is a major concern, particularly considering the fact McDaniel hasn't played since the preseason opener against Tampa Bay. The Dolphins might end up having a couple of rookies serving as backups on the D-line.

What to watch against Dallas: It's going to be about the young guys. Don't expect to see much, if anything, of the starting defensive linemen. Since the Dolphins have high hopes for Vernon, he's the guy we'd focus on against Dallas.

LINEBACKERS

On the roster: Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, Koa Misi, Gary Guyton, Austin Spitler, Jason Trusnik, Shelly Lyons, Jonathan Freeny, Cameron Collins, Josh Kaddu

Number likely to be kept: 7

Analysis: We haven't gotten a good look at the linebacking corps in the preseason because Dansby and Burnett have been out, and the same should be expected against Dallas. Guyton is coming off a tremendous game against Atlanta, and Spitler and Trusnik both have had their moments in the preseason. That leaves probably one spot for a young player to capture.

What to watch against Dallas: The emphasis should be on fifth-round pick Josh Kaddu, along with fellow rookies Lyons and Collins, and first-year player Freeny. But there doesn't appear to be a lot at stake for the linebackers in this game.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

On the roster: Sean Smith, Richard Marshall, Nolan Carroll, Quinten Lawrence, Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Tyrone Culver, Jimmy Wilson, Anderson Russell, Vincent Agnew, Kevyn Scott

Number likely to be kept: 10

Analysis: The Dolphins shook up their secondary last weekend when they traded Vontae Davis to Indianapolis, which will test their depth at cornerback. The Dolphins also need for a safety to emerge as a playmaker.

What to watch against Dallas: All eyes figure to be on Nolan Carroll since he's the one who's going to replace Davis as the third cornerback behind Smith and Marshall. Quinten Lawrence also deserves attention because he's now the fourth cornerback.