As we approach training camp, it is time for our annual training camp preview. This is a deep dive into each position and what to expect for the roster, barring any major injuries or setbacks. Players in bold are the guys we predict will be on the 53-man roster come week 1 and in order of depth chart. Without further-a-do, here is the DolphinsTalk.com training camp preview:
With all reports out of OTA’s and Mini Camp, Tannehill has looked fast on his feet and quick with his decisions. He is more than on track to be the opening day starter week 1. Don’t expect too much work from him in the pre-season other than a few series in the second game and maybe an entire quarter in the 3rdpreseason game. Fales has gotten rave reviews from Adam Gase. This shouldn’t surprise many. Gase has had Fales since he was taken in Chicago. Fales is our leader to be Tannehill’s back up come week 1. As for Osweiler and Petty, both will be jostling for the 3rdQB spot on this team. After last season, I firmly believe the Dolphins will have 3 QB’s on the roster. With the 3rdstringer possibly a scratch week in and week out until an injury happens. Osweiler has the inside track due to his time with Gase in Denver. It isn’t a sure thing however. Petty has had some experience starting in 2016 (he met Suh and Wake that year). It will take a strong showing from Petty to overtake Osweiler. This is a camp battle to watch for sure.
How times have changed. Last year we go into camp with a clear-cut starter named Jay Ajayi. After he was shipped out for attitude problems, the ball was given to Damien Williams. Williams was hurt, and Kenyan Drake was inserted. And what a turnaround it was. Drake not only is the unquestioned starter going into training camp, but he is also looking to build on an incredible 8 game run to end last year. The Dolphins brought in hometown hero Frank Gore as a very trusted, reliable back up. Gore, 35, will likely get his share of touches this season but mostly with short yardage and goal line. Ballage, Miami’s 4thround pick is a freak of nature. Standing at 6’4, 230lbs, he is a powerful runner and had a very good career at Arizona State. Don’t be surprised if he takes some of Gore’s touches later in the year. Perry has been on the team the last few years and is a decent special teams player. Howell and Radcliffe will have to really impress to crack this roster. Both will be trying to overtake Perry but will have to show their worth on special teams.
Another position with a new man at the top. With Jarvis Landry gone, Kenny Stills is the main guy in the WR room for the Dolphins. Kenny Stills was awarded a contract extension after his 2016 season with Tannehill and will look to pick up where they left off. Parker needs to stay away from the injury bug and have a monster season. As his option was picked up, he is still playing on his final year of his contract. Wilson and Amendola were brought in to replace Landry. Both are great players in the slot to move the sticks. Both are interchangeable, and pose match up issues for opposing LB’ers and nickel corners. Grant really came on late last season. If it is any indication of his role, Gase regretted not having more packages for him earlier in the year. Isaiah Ford gets our nod as the 6th WR. He was having a tremendous camp before he went down with injury and has made great progress in OTA and mini camp. Carroo is far down the depth chart at 8. This is his last chance to make the roster before the team pulls the plug. He has shown nothing to say he will make this roster come week 1. Lewis, Scott, Morgan and Owusu have an uphill battle but one or 2 may stick on the practice squad. Lewis and Scott seem to have the edge here.
This position is very hard to project. The Dolphins do not have the “A” TE on the roster, particularly because we just don’t know how good Gesicki can be yet. He is still the top guy in this room. Gavin Escobar was brought in for experience and should slot in as the #2 TE. Smythe is a great run blocker and should be no reason he doesn’t make the team. When it comes to Derby, Gray and Duarte, Derby leads the way. The Dolphins claimed him off waivers last year and with some familiarity with Gase, should be there as a ST player or back up TE. Gray, who received a contract towards the end of 2016 will see his time end with the team as well is Duarte, who has always been a project and hasn’t earned much playing time throughout his career.
Miami Dolphins offensive guard Josh Sitton (71) at Miami Dolphins training camp in Davie, Florida on May 23, 2018. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Offensive Line: Starting Group, backups in no particular order
For the first time, in well, forever, the Miami Dolphins announced their starting offensive line before OTA’s in May. This makes a big difference going forward. This unit can now gel together and be all on the same page without the mix and match game we have seen for years. Tunsil gets his second year at T after spending his rookie year at G. He struggled at time last year but expect a big rebound year. Sitton upgrades the interior in pass protection. He is one of the league’s best and has been for his entire career. Kilogre is an average C but is healthy and can play decent. Jesse Davis was the surprise starter out of this group as Ted Larsen was the guy last year. James is coming in to his option year and is playing for a big contract. If healthy, this is a GOOD GROUP. As for the backups, Sam Young, Eric Smith will make it as back up tackles, where Ted Larsen will beat out Asiata and Brendel will back up Kilgore. Some of you may think about the Asiata not making the cut. I was on board giving him a chance for his first 2 years. It just hasn’t panned out and having a veteran like Larsen available makes the decision easier.
Jason Sanders by all accounts will be the new kicker of the Miami Dolphins. He has proven in camp he has a strong leg and was extremely accurate. Joseph is there to push as both rookies try to make the roster.
There is only one punter on this roster and second year Arizona State punter Matt Haack is the guy. Miami may bring in someone if he starts to bomb in the pre-season, but this is a no brainer.
Old Mr. Reliable John Denney will make the roster at the age of 40. Gravelle is a rookie from TCU who will push Denney for his spot. Gravelle will need to really excel for this upset to happen.
The Dolphins are rich in depth at this position. Robert Quinn comes in and makes an immediate impact going back to his natural end position. We all know about Cameron Wake. At 36, he is still one the elite pass rushers. While we may see Wake in more situational roles, the same can be said for Harris, Branch, Hayes and Malveaux. Hayes is an elite edge setter and can also get after the QB. Harris is coming into his second season and feasted in the final two games. Branch is coming off an injury but is productive when healthy. Malveaux is kind of the wild card in this group. Kris Kocurek, the DL coach has stated that the Dolphins will be running 6-man rotations this year to keep all the ends fresh. This leads to my assumption Malveaux will be on the roster come week 1.
With the departure of Ndamukoung Suh, the Dolphins Defensive Tackle spot is a tad bit influx and may have the least depth on the roster. Phillips is slotted in one spot and is also coming into his final year of his rookie deal. If he is motivated, he may be able to have a very good season. Akeem Spence and Davon Godchaux will be also in the mix to start next to Phillips. Godchaux had a very good first season playing next to Suh. Spence is coming from Detroit, where he is familiar with the schemes. If Kris Kocurek keeps his word with the Defensive Ends, expect the same thing to occur with the tackles. Gabe Wright, Jamiyus Pittman and Anthony Moten will all be fighting for a spot on the practice squad. I just can’t see Adam Gase and Matt Burke deciding to keep more than 4 on the 53-man roster.
The Dolphins, on paper, seem to have more depth here than in previous years. A healthy McMillan will be the difference for the Dolphins. He was sorely missed when he went down in preseason game 1 with a torn ACL. The OLB spots are up for grabs. Slot Kiko Alonso in for one, where we may see him move back to WLB so he is not as exposed to covering TE’s. The SLB position will be a battle between Stephone Anthony and rookie Jerome Baker. Chase Allen and Mike Hull are good back ups and good special teamers. Do not sleep on Quentin Poling, Mike McCray, Terence Garvin and Cayson Collins to over take one if not both of those players. This is the second camp battle to keep your eyes on this summer. Miami needs to bolster the depth at linebacker and hope that everyone stays healthy through training camp.
Corner is an interesting position. While the Dolphins have locked up Bobby McCain to a long-term deal, they are unsure if he will play the outside or to keep him as their nickel (to me, that makes the most sense). Xavien Howard was one of the league’s best shut down corners in the second half of last season. Tony Lippett is coming off a torn achilles, but if healthy, should slot himself opposite Howard. Tankersley played admirably in his first -year, but injuries slowed him down. Where our depth chart gets interesting is us slotting Jalen Davis in as the 5th CB. Davis has had a very good spring/summer and looks to be leading the way to get a ST nod. McTyer has played well the previous few pre-seasons and may end up making it over Davis, but Davis is more aggressive at the line of scrimmage. This is the third camp battle to watch this summer.
One area of concern was addressed this spring. Minkah Fitzpatrick falling in the Dolphins lap was a blessing in disguise. Many had him as a top 3 player in this draft and falling to pick 11 gives the Dolphins what they were hoping for. A multi-faceted FS who can cover TE’s and WRs from the slot. TJ McDonald will now have a full season after being re-signed last summer prior to his 8-game suspension. Walt Aikens is the special teams ace and will be counted on in that area more than safety. Maurice Smith, Jordan Lucas and Trae Elston will be fighting for a spot on the practice squad.
LB Quentin Poling
WR Malcolm Lewis
DT Gabe Wright
S Maurice Smith
OLB Mike McCray
CB Cornell Armstrong
CB Torry McTyer
WR Drew Morgan
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