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Friday, August 23, 2013
Dolphins' 53-man roster projection (2.0)

By James Walker

The Miami Dolphins have three preseason games in the books and it’s almost time for roster cuts.

Last week we provided our first 53-man roster projection for the Dolphins. But there have been some changes, including a key injury to starting tight end Dustin Keller (knee) and the release of cornerback Richard Marshall.

Here is our 2.0 version of where Miami’s roster currently stands:

Quarterbacks (3): Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Pat Devlin

Analysis: Same group as last week. The only question here will be whether Miami decides to keep two or three quarterbacks.

Running backs (4): Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee, Jonas Gray

Analysis: I think there’s space now to keep four tailbacks. Miller and Thomas are locks. Gillislee is a rookie draft pick and Gray may be a risk for the practice squad.

Fullback (1): Evan Rodriguez

Analysis: Rodriguez is more versatile and that could be the difference in beating out Jorvorskie Lane. Rodriguez also adds value on special teams.

Receivers (6): Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews, Marvin McNutt, KR Marcus Thigpen

Analysis: McNutt has had a good week of practice and his size puts him ahead of Chad Bumphis, who is only a slot option. Thigpen is stashed here because of his versatility and the Dolphins have enough running backs.

Tight ends (3): Charles Clay, Dion Sims, Michael Egnew

Analysis: Keller’s season-ending knee injury changes the entire dynamic of this group. Clay is now mostly a full-time tight end and the projected starter. Egnew’s roster spot also is safe after previously being on the bubble.

Offensive line (10): Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, John Jerry, Tyson Clabo, Josh Samuda, Nate Garner, Dallas Thomas, Will Yeatman, Lance Louis

Analysis: The Dolphins need a lot of players here to guard against injury. Samuda and Garner bring a lot of versatility as backups. Louis is the last lineman in and needs to a little show more.

Defensive line (9): Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick, Paul Soliai, Dion Jordan, Derrick Shelby, Kheeston Randall, Vaughn Martin

Analysis: This is the deepest area of the team. A.J. Francis also is making a hard push, but I’m not ready to put him on the 53-man roster just yet. Ten defensive linemen is a bit much.

Linebackers (6): Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler, Koa Misi, Jason Trusnik, Jelani Jenkins, Austin Spitler

Analysis: Two or three backup spots are still open with two preseason games remaining. Trusnik brings a lot of value to special teams, and the Dolphins are looking for more of that.

Defensive backs (8): Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Jimmy Wilson, Brent Grimes, Dimitri Patterson, Will Davis, Jamar Taylor, Nolan Carroll

Analysis: Cutting Marshall impacts the depth at cornerback. But that also opens up another roster spot, and I’m not sure Miami has another corner worthy of the 53-man roster.

Specialists (3): Punter Brandon Fields, long snapper John Denney, kicker Caleb Sturgis.

Analysis: This group won’t change, barring an injury.

Last five out: Francis, Bumphis, Lane, TE Kyle Miller, S Kelcie McCray

Last five in: Rodriguez, Louis, Jenkins, Spitler, Gray

Overview: Miami's roster is taking shape. Barring injuries, I do not expect a lot of change between now and cut day on Aug. 31st. Still, Saturday's fourth preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be important for Miami’s bubble players.