The Preseason Finale And What It Meant
S Kelcie McCray
S Kelcie McCray
@apoupartFins
Posted Aug 30, 2013


Before the Dolphins set out to face the New Orleans Saints in the preseason finale, we broke down the roster battles and pointed out which players needed to have big performances Thursday night. The day after the 24-21 victory at Sun Life Stadium, it's time to revisit the roster and see how things might have changed after Thursday night.

QUARTERBACK

Before the game: Pat Devlin is the only one who roster spot is undetermined. Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore are in, Aaron Corp has no shot. What Devlin needs to do is convince the Dolphins they need to devote a third quarterback roster spot for him. It's possible he's already done so, but a strong performance against New Orleans sure wouldn't hurt.

After the game: The best thing that could have happened for Devlin was the shoulder injury sustained by Corp on his first play after he replaced Devlin midway through the fourth quarter. Before then, Devlin had been up-and-down, in particular struggling in the red zone. But then he led the Dolphins to a comeback victory after the Corp injury, showing the ability to come through in the clutch. Let's put his chances of making the roster at 50-50.

RUNNING BACK

Before the game: Even counting returner Marcus Thigpen as a running back, the only player here not seemingly assured of a roster spot is Jonas Gray, and the reality that probably only a jaw-dropping performance could save him from the waiver wire.

After the game: Not that he had great blocking in front of him, but Gray rushing for 8 yards on seven carries probably sealed his fate.

FULLBACK

Before the game: Evan Rodriguez's path to a roster spot became smoother after Jorvorskie Lane was released on Tuesday, but there's still no guarantee the Dolphins will keep even one fullback. It is likely, however, but Rodriguez still could erase all doubt with a good outing against the Saints.

After the game: It was a rough outing for Rodriguez, who drop a pass, was stuffed for no gain on a rushing attempt near the goal line and whose blocking didn't look at first glance overly impressive. He's probably looking at the down side of 50-50 to make the roster.

WIDE RECEIVER

Before the game: The best guess is the Dolphins will keep five wide receivers on the initial 53-man roster, although keeping six isn't out of the question. Either way, there probably isn't anything completely settled yet beyond the threesome of Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. That means it's a big game for Rishard Matthews, Marvin McNutt, Chad Bumphis, Brian Tyms and Keenan Davis.

After the game: McNutt clearly stood out among the group because of his game-winning 56-yard touchdown, but Tyms also had a nice outing with four catches, although he might have been able to do a better job of shielding the defender on the Devlin pass that was intercepted at the goal line. Matthews had a nice catch over the middle, while Bumphis and Davis were pretty quiet. At this point, it sure looks as though it will come down to Matthews, McNutt and Tyms.

TIGHT END

Before the game: The Dolphins are down to four tight ends after the injury sustained by Dustin Keller, and it's difficult to envision Charles Clay or Dion Sims or Michael Egnew not making the team. Kyle Miller fell behind after getting injured in the Hall of Fame Game and he may be playing for a roster spot Thursday night.

After the game: Clay didn't play Thursday, Sims had a big game, Egnew and Miller did little. Egnew figures to make the roster because he was a third-round pick just a year ago, but Clay and Sims clearly stand out in this group. Miller doesn't figure to be kept at this point.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Before the game: • The top eight appear pretty clear with Martin, Incognito, Pouncey, Jerry, Clabo, Samuda, Garner and Dallas Thomas, which means Jeff Adams, Chris Barker, Sam Brenner, Andrew McDonald and Will Yeatman likely are competing for one spot. The game Thursday night clearly could have an impact in the decision-making process here.

After the game: Without the benefit of game tape, it's tough to discern offensive linemen unless somebody really stands out in a positive or a negative way. That wasn't the case last night. The best guess at this point is the ninth spot will come down to Yeatman or Brenner.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Before the game: This is the position where the Dolphins have the most depth, therefore it's the position where there's the least uncertainty. In fact, a case could be made that there is a clear lineup of nine D-linemen for the 53-man roster with Soliai, Starks, Odrick, Wake, Vernon, Jordan, Randall, Shelby and Vaughn Martin. It's really up to the others — Antwan Applewhite, Tristan Okpalaugo, A.J. Francis, Tracy Robertson — to convince the Dolphins coaches they should be kept.

After the game: Francis and Okpalaugo once again made their presence felt against New Orleans, but the question still remains: Will it be enough? An easy thing to bring up would be the idea of trading one of the big three defensive tackles, but both Soliai and Starks are in the final year of their contract, which hurts their market value. Of the top nine, the two who could be most vulnerable are Randall and Shelby. This one will be interesting because the Dolphins have more quality players here than roster spots available.

LINEBACKER

Before the game: This is pretty much like the wide receiver spot, where there's a lot of competition beyond the first group. In addition to the three starters, Jason Trusnik is almost a lock to make the team, leaving either two or three spots available among Jelani Jenkins, Austin Spitler, Jonathan Freeny, Josh Kaddu and Lee Robinson. Based on what we've seen this summer, there doesn't appear to be much separating the last four and Jenkins has the advantage of being a fourth-round pick from this year's draft.

After the game: As has been the case throughout the summer, Robinson might have been the most impressive of the backup linebackers with four tackles, two passes defensed and a tackle on special teams. Among the others, Kaddu had a nice game and Jenkins might have had his most productive preseason outing. This one truly is too close to call.

DEFENSIVE BACK

Before the game: We can see eight spots being all but secured as this point with Jones, Grimes, Taylor, Patterson, Wilson, Carroll, Davis and Clemons. The Dolphins are likely to keep either nine or 10 DBs, meaning there would be two spots available among De'Andre Presley, R.J. Stanford, Don Jones, Kelcie McCray, Julian Posey, Keelan Johnson and Jordan Kovacs. Of that group, Stanford is the one who has stood out the most, and that's because of his work on special teams.

After the game: Stanford has been a standout on special teams throughout the preseason, but he did nothing to help his cause Thursday because he had a really rough night at cornerback. McCray had a really good outing, but it should have been better because he dropped what should have been an easy interception. Presley made a really bad play when he tried to pick up a loose ball in the end zone to start running with it instead of just falling on it, giving New Orleans a touchdown in the process. But he atoned with a game-clinching interception. Based on last night, McCray probably clinched his spot on the roster, but nobody else made much of a statement.


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