Miami Dolphins: Don Jones

Dolphins add two to secondary

August, 31, 2014
Aug 31
The Miami Dolphins have two new additions to their secondary. The Dolphins claimed cornerback Sammy Seamster from the Baltimore Ravens and safety Brandian Ross from the Oakland Raiders off waivers Sunday, Miami general manager Dennis Hickey announced.

Miami had just four cornerbacks after cutting down to its 53-man roster. This is a valuable position where depth is needed. Seamster will be the fifth cornerback behind starters Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan and second-year backups Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.

Ross replaces safety Don Jones, who was cut Sunday. The Dolphins have their starting safety – Reshad Jones – currently serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Miami also cut receiver Damian Williams.

Some other notes from Hickey's news conference Sunday:
  • Hickey said the team is pleased with the rehab of Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey. That factored into the decision to take him off the physically unable to perform list. Pouncey and the team appear optimistic that he can return before the six-week window. Hickey said the decision of when to play Pouncey will be a collaborative effort with the medical staff.
  • With the release of Williams and Marcus Thigpen, the Dolphins' kickoff and punt returners up are in the air. Rookie Jarvis Landry received the most work in training camp and the preseason of the remaining players on the roster. “We feel we have several guys that can compete there,” Hickey said. “As you’ve seen during the preseason, you’ve seen multiple guys go back there.”
  • The Dolphins only have two active quarterbacks for the first time under head coach Joe Philbin. Hickey said that situation remains “fluid,” but Miami is "very confident" in quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore. The Dolphins, at the very least, are expected to carry one quarterback on the practice squad.
The Miami Dolphins made their first set of roster cuts Tuesday afternoon to get their roster down to 75 players. However, the hardest cut is Saturday when the Dolphins must cut 22 more to get to 53 players.

Here are three key players who are on the roster bubble this week:

1. Daniel Thomas

Position: Running back

Analysis: Thomas has underachieved since being a second-round pick in 2011. A primary reason he lasted three seasons in Miami was due to his lofty draft status and connection to former general manager Jeff Ireland. But Thomas doesn’t have those ties to new general manager Dennis Hickey. Thomas must produce and that hasn’t been the case this summer. Thomas’ hamstring injury sidelined him most of training camp and all of the preseason. Thomas plans to play Thursday and this could be his final chance to impress Miami’s new front office. Rookie running backs Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa have played well in Thomas’ absence.

2. Marcus Thigpen

Position: Kick returner, receiver

Analysis: Thigpen is a curious case for Miami. He’s been, by far, the Dolphins’ best option returning kicks the past two years. However, Thigpen doesn’t offer the Dolphins much beyond special teams. Thigpen started as a running back and was moved to a full-time receiver last season. But Thigpen hasn’t done much there, either. Miami is exploring other options returning kicks, such as receivers Jarvis Landry and Damian Williams. If the Dolphins feel comfortable with a replacement, Thigpen’s days could be numbered.

3. Don Jones

Position: Defensive back

Analysis: Jones presents another curious decision for Miami. Similar to Thigpen, Jones’ strength is on special teams. But Jones doesn’t offer much else. The Dolphins have tried Jones at safety and cornerback this summer in training camp and the preseason. Jones still has a lot to learn before he can make an impact at either position. Jones remains one of the team’s best gunners. But is that enough to keep him on the 53-man roster?
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Friday from around the Web:
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel writes the Dolphins will explore rookie receiver Jarvis Landry as a punt returner.
Morning take: Landry has sure hands and could fill that role. Marcus Thigpen is Miami's usual kick returner but has competition this summer.
  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald writes Dolphins defensive back Don Jones learned from his controversial tweet about Michael Sam.
Morning take: Jones was in hot water after the NFL draft for his insensitive tweet about Sam. But Jones apologized, went through sensitivity training and learned a valuable lesson.
Morning take: Miami has receivers who could get cut and make another 53-man rosters. The Dolphins should consider trade options before cut day.
  • Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post writes Dolphins tight end Gator Hoskins in an intriguing prospect.
Morning take: Miami has a lot of bodies at tight end and only three will make the team. Hoskins will have to make a lot of plays.
Training camp is an exciting time in the NFL. It’s a time of immense optimism for all 32 teams, and also a time for opportunity.

Every year there are players around the league who surprise in training camp to make a 53-man roster. Some even go as far as making an impact during the regular season. In the past, the Miami Dolphins have seen young unknowns such as safety Jimmy Wilson, receiver Rishard Matthews and defensive back Don Jones develop in training camp and eventually establish roles with the team.

So who has the potential to be this year’s camp surprises for Miami? Here are five possibilities:

1. S Michael Thomas

Analysis: Remember him? Thomas made arguably the biggest play of Miami’s 2013 season when he picked of future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady to seal a win over the rival New England Patriots. Thomas was a late arrival to Miami and was forced to hit the ground running. Now, Thomas had his first full offseason with the Dolphins and believes he will play much faster in Kevin Coyle’s defense. Miami also likes position flexibility, and Thomas has that. He is competing for roles at safety, nickel cornerback, and on special teams.

2. DE Terrence Fede

Analysis: Opportunity knocks for Fede. He was previously projected as a candidate for the practice squad. But the recent four-game suspension for 2013 first-round pick Dion Jordan has opened a spot for another defensive end to make the 53-man roster. It will be up to Fede to take advantage. He has good size and athleticism but needs development. Fede has a chance to continue an interesting trend in Miami, as four consecutive seventh-round picks have made the Dolphins’ 53-man roster.

3. LB Jordie Tripp

Analysis: On paper, Tripp has a lot going against him. Miami’s fifth-round pick is undersized and not overly athletic as a linebacker. But there are intangibles with Tripp, such as leadership and aggressiveness to the football, that NFL evaluators really like. I’m curious to see how that translates when the pads come on. Miami’s linebacker play was inconsistent last season, and the Dolphins are seeking answers. With a strong training camp, Tripp has a chance to add depth on defense and contribute to special teams.
There were many criticisms of former Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland from fans in South Florida. Many point to his spotty record signing free agents, questionable trades and personality fallouts behind the scenes with two head coaches (Tony Sparano, Joe Philbin). All points are valid.

But one thing Ireland probably did not get enough credit for during his tenure in Miami was his ability to find talent in the later rounds of the NFL draft. Players such as tight end Charles Clay (sixth round), safety Reshad Jones (fifth round) and receiver Brian Hartline (fourth round) are terrific examples of hidden gems Ireland found in the later rounds and became part of the Dolphins' foundation.

With that in mind, here is a little known fact: Miami's seventh-round picks have made the 53-man roster four straight years. Linebacker Austin Spitler (2010), safety Jimmy Wilson (2011), receiver Rishard Matthews (2012) and safety Don Jones (2013) all made the team as rookies. Wilson, Matthews and Jones are still part of the team and have roles as backups or on special teams.

Can rookie defensive end Terrence Fede keep the streak alive? The rookie from Marist is the first seventh-round pick for new Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey.

Fede is raw, but he has good size and athleticism. I have been particularly impressed with how well Fede moves for a player his size. However, it is too premature to accurately gauge his chances to make Miami’s 53-man roster until the pads come on in training camp.

Going against Fede is the fact that he’s trying to make the Dolphins in arguably the deepest area of their roster. Miami already has stalwarts at defensive end, such as Pro Bowler Cameron Wake, 2013 sack leader Olivier Vernon, former No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan and valuable backup Derrick Shelby. The Dolphins are already four deep at defensive end. At the very least, Fede would be fifth on the depth chart.

Time will tell if Fede can extend Miami’s seventh-round streak to five years. The practice squad also is an option for Fede if he cannot make the 53-man roster later this summer.
The Miami Dolphins were a competitive 8-8 in 2013 and just one win away from making the playoffs. They signed Branden Albert, a Pro Bowl left tackle and drafted right tackle Ja'Wuan James in the first-round to fix the offensive line. Miami added 1,000-yard running back Knowshon Moreno to boost their shoddy rushing attack.

Add veteran signings such as cornerback Cortland Finnegan, defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, safety Louis Delmas, a new draft class and the Dolphins should be projected to take the next step, correct?

Not so fast.

The early 2014 projections are in and it doesn’t look good for Miami. So far, many experts are predicting the Dolphins slide this year. recently ranked the Dolphins in the bottom third of the NFL at No. 24. One voter -- NFL Nation reporter Kevin Seifert -- rated the Dolphins No. 30, which rubbed a lot of Dolphins fans the wrong way. Bleacher Report also rated Miami last at No. 32 and the worst team in the NFL. Football Outsiders predicted Miami would finish 7-9.

Why is Miami being ranked low nationally? Here are three theories:

1. Head coach on the hot seat

Analysis: It rarely looks good for a team when the head coach enters the season on the hot seat. Joe Philbin is a shaky 15-17 in two seasons. He has yet to post a winning record or make the playoffs. There are no excuses for Philbin to fail in his third year. Although the Dolphins won’t admit it publicly, it’s playoffs or bust. What if Miami gets off to a slow start? What if the Dolphins are out of the playoff race in November? Miami must win early to quiet the speculation. Philbin must also get his players to respond week in and week out despite his status.

2. Not much confidence in Tannehill

Analysis: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has one of the top-selling jerseys in the NFL. He gets a ton of support in South Florida. Yet, Tannehill doesn’t get the same love nationally. Tannehill has a mediocre 15-17 record as a starter. He hasn’t proven to be a winning quarterback in two seasons and it’s now or never. Tannehill is learning a new offensive scheme for the first time since college. He has also struggled throwing the deep ball and holding the ball too long. Based on early Power Rankings, it appears the national media does not think Tannehill is going to do anything special this year.

3. Bad Press

Analysis: Fair or not, the Dolphins have the national perception of a team in turmoil and previously with a bad locker room. Last year’s bullying scandal rocked Miami and put the entire organization in a bad light. To the Dolphins’ credit, owner Stephen Ross, first-year general manager Dennis Hickey and Philbin have done a lot to clean up last year’s ills. They let Richie Incognito and John Jerry walk in free agency and traded Jonathan Martin. But recent issues on social media with Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, who may face an early-season suspension, and Don Jones keep Miami’s locker-room issues in the spotlight.

When you consider all these factors, it’s easier to see why the national media isn’t giving Miami much respect this upcoming season. The Dolphins also have the 12th toughest strength of schedule.

Miami will have a chance to fly under the radar. That could be a good thing. Meanwhile, Dolphins fans shouldn't expect much respect from the national media leading up to the regular season.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Tuesday from around the Web:
  • NFL Insider Insider Field Yates writes it's time for Dolphins second-year defensive end Dion Jordan to step up.
Morning take: Some of it was poor coaching. Miami's staff wasn't sure how to use Jordan's athleticism and couldn't find him enough playing time on the field. There should be no excuses this season.
  • The Finsiders discusses Dolphins defensive back Don Jones' reinstatement.
Morning take: Jones made a mistake by criticizing Michael Sam on social media. Jones apologized and went through the necessary steps to return. Now, he must learn from his mistakes.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post takes a look at new Dolphins linebacker Chris McCain.
Morning take: The Dolphins need help at linebacker, but McCain is a long shot to make the team. He will try to prove himself starting Friday at rookie minicamp.
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel says tailback Knowshon Moreno can do it all.
Morning take: Moreno is solid in blitz pickup, which is where the Dolphins struggled mightily last season. He must stay healthy and productive.
Kudos to the Miami Dolphins.

It took the Dolphins' organization just one day to make a swift and stern ruling on defensive back Don Jones. On Saturday the second-year player tweeted critical comments about Michael Sam, who became the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. By Sunday, the Dolphins' brass met with Jones and wasted little time handing out his punishment.

Jones was fined an undisclosed amount, excused from the team and required to undergo educational training. Jones cannot return to the Dolphins until that training is complete, according to the team.

The Dolphins were wise to take a hard stance on this issue. For starters, the Dolphins' locker room has had enough issues in the past year with their bullying scandal and cannot add any form of intolerance to that list. Second, the team is letting its players know that further missteps on social media are unacceptable. The team also had a sit-down meeting with Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey after his recent comments on Twitter that first-round pick Ja'Wuan James would have to buy him gifts. The tweet was in poor taste after Pouncey was one of the culprits in Miami's bullying scandal.

Jones will have to pay the price for his mistakes. But, more importantly, he must learn from it. During a historic moment for the NFL and society in general, Jones was the only known player in the league to publicly bash Sam. Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey was quick to point out Jones doesn't represent the views of the organization.

Jones did issue an apology to Sam on Sunday night.

"I want to apologize to Michael Sam for the inappropriate comments that I made last night on social media," Jones said. "I take full responsibility for them and I regret that these tweets took away from his draft moment. I remember last year when I was drafted in the seventh round and all of the emotions and happiness I felt when I received the call that gave me an opportunity to play for an NFL team and I wish him all the best in his NFL career."

Following a controversial 2013 season, Miami is the last team that needs negative press from its players. This is why the Dolphins set an example with Jones.

Miami is trying to change the culture in its locker room this year. Having a low tolerance for these kind of issues is the best approach.
For two of the past three days, Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey had to interrupt NFL draft news conferences to field questions on veteran players making mistakes with social media.

On Friday, Hickey called an impromptu media gathering at the Dolphins' facility to make a statement on Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, who tweeted "I can't wait for our gifts he's getting us," when Miami selected first-round right tackle Ja'Wuan James. The following night Hickey had to address controversial tweets by second-year player Don Jones toward Michael Sam, who became the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL.

“I was made aware of it and I was disappointed in those comments," Hickey said of Jones. "That's not what we stand for as an organization.”

The pair of incidents in a short span highlighted the fact that Miami hasn’t completely fixed its locker room culture. As much as the team has worked on all that went wrong last year during “Bullygate,” there is still plenty of work to be done in the area of social media. The Dolphins cannot overlook this form of communication. They must do a better job of educating their players. As a general rule, Dolphins players should “think before you tweet.”

So far Miami has been too reactive -- instead of proactive -- with issues of social media. The Dolphins met with Pouncey after his comments and will do the same with Jones. It's probably time for Miami’s brass to also hold a widespread team meeting during offseason workouts before this social media issue gets out of hand and causes more problems for the organization.

It would be easier if the Dolphins, a billion-dollar brand, could ban all their players from using social media and simply concentrate on football. But that's not a realistic approach and a proper way to treat employees. Education, communication and a low tolerance are the best ways for Miami to fix this issue.
Jamar Taylor, Dion Jordan and Will Davis AP Photo, Getty ImagesJamar Taylor, Dion Jordan and Will Davis made a minimal impact as rookies.
Most of the attention over the next three weeks will be focused on the 2014 NFL draft, as each team tries to shape its present and future by identifying the right college players to fill needs.

But for the Miami Dolphins, success or failure this season will depend more on the development of the 2013 draft class. Few teams got less production from their rookies last year than Miami. Only the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks had fewer snaps from first-year players -- and those teams, which competed in Super Bowl XLVIII, were stacked with established veterans.

The Dolphins, who faltered down the stretch and finished 8-8, did not have that luxury.

It's time for Miami's second-year players to come of age during an important time for many within the organization. Head coach Joe Philbin is entering an important third year after going 15-17 his first two seasons, and there could be a lot of change next year if the Dolphins aren't successful.

Most of Miami's top picks -- including defensive end Dion Jordan, offensive lineman Dallas Thomas and cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis -- basically had red-shirt seasons in 2013, thanks to injuries, inconsistency and lack of confidence from the coaching staff. That lack of production was one reason why the Dolphins failed to get to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.

"They got less than anybody in the league out of their draft class, and they had high picks. That's a huge issue," NFL scout Matt Williamson said. "But if that group, the corners and especially Jordan, can play up to what Miami thought they were and what most people thought they were, the Dolphins could rebound."

"We have a lot of hope for the draft class from last year," Philbin said at the NFL owners meetings in late March. "A lot of them have been back early, working. You want to see development throughout the course of an individual player's career, but I think all of you guys would agree you usually see a significant jump between Year 1 and Year 2. These are guys we thought highly of a year ago when we drafted them.

"They had some injury issues that kind of curtailed their development in Year 1. So I'm excited about working with them, developing them and seeing them progress here this season."

The 2013 draft class was one point of contention last year between Miami's coaching staff and the front office. Philbin didn't feel his rookies were ready to take on larger roles. Jeff Ireland, then the Dolphins' general manager, believed in the talent of his draft picks and felt they were not being used properly. Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, was perhaps the biggest example.

Due to offseason shoulder surgery, Jordan missed time in training camp and the preseason. He never found his footing in the regular season and he fell behind veteran defensive ends Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby.

Williamson described Jordan as "a ridiculous athlete." He has immense potential but spent most of the season as the third or fourth defensive end and on special teams. He was involved in 321 snaps and had a disappointing 26 tackles and two sacks.

There have also been offseason trade rumors involving Jordan, which Philbin has denied. Miami's head coach expects Jordan to have a larger role in 2014.

"We feel like with a full offseason, with more time devoted to his fundamentals, he will have a better grasp of the position he's playing," Philbin said. "We do want to do a better job with the numbers, rotating him in. ... We want to get him more snaps on first and second down. "

The Dolphins also are counting on young corners Taylor and Davis, who were drafted in the second and third round, respectively. Both had injury setbacks last season and played a combined 104 snaps.

Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes will occupy one starting job, and Taylor and Davis will compete with veteran free-agent acquisition Cortland Finnegan for the other spot. Finnegan, a former Pro Bowl corner, is the favorite to start due to experience. But Philbin is not going in with any preconceived notions.

"I want to see the best player, whoever can help us win football games," Philbin explained. "Whoever performs the best should be the starting corner."

Miami got most of its rookie production last year from unlikely sources. Fifth-round kicker Caleb Sturgis proved to be the Dolphins' best rookie acquisition last season. He beat out longtime Miami kicker Dan Carpenter in training camp and led the Dolphins with 111 points.

The Dolphins also had decent production from undrafted rookie guard Sam Brenner, who made four starts and played 274 snaps. Brenner stepped up following the suspension of guard Richie Incognito in Miami's high-profile bullying scandal.

Brenner's production highlighted the fact that Thomas, a 2013 third-round pick, was too green to step in and be productive. Thomas was rotated between guard and tackle in training camp and never got comfortable in either position. Thomas must find a home at this season in order to provide quality depth.

In fact, it will be vital for Miami's entire 2013 draft class to find roles and contribute next season. The Dolphins used nine draft picks last year, and most have yet to make an impact.

"The Dolphins have a young quarterback [Ryan Tannehill], so they need to build a real core for the long term," Williamson said. "They need last year's draft and this upcoming come to build around Tannehill. They don't need to live for today. A strong core is more important than winning it all this year, although that philosophy can get you fired in Miami if you're 6-10."

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 37-40

January, 28, 2014
Jan 28
The 2014 edition of “Walker's Fab 40” has a new twist. After several years of covering the division, this time we will rank the top 40 Miami Dolphins.

Keep in mind, these rankings are where the Dolphins currently stand after the season. It's not based on projection or potential.

There will surely be plenty of debate from Dolphins fans. So let's get right to it.

No. 40: Will Davis

Position: Cornerback

2013 stats: 8 tackles

Analysis: Davis started training camp on fire. He was one of the stars of camp and unofficially led the Dolphins in interceptions over the summer. But a toe injury set Davis behind and he never recovered. It wasn't until late in the year that Davis earned a little playing time. But 2013 was mostly a redshirt season. Davis, a rookie third-round pick, will get a chance to earn a spot in the rotation in 2014.

No. 39: Don Jones

Position: Defensive back

2013 stats: 10 tackles, two forced fumbles

Analysis: Jones was quietly an impressive story for the Dolphins. He was Miami's final 2013 draft pick in the seventh round and made the team as a special team's ace. Jones was a gunner who is tough to block. He forced two fumbles on special teams for his big hits. Jones is raw as a defensive back, but his ability on special teams proved to be valuable.

No. 38: Jelani Jenkins

Position: Linebacker

2013 stats: 17 tackles

Analysis: Jenkins, a rookie fourth-round pick gained more playing time towards the end of the season. He is still a raw prospect but showed some aggressiveness and sideline-to-sideline speed. The Dolphins are committed to starting linebackers Philip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe and Koa Misi long term. So it may be hard for Jenkins to secure playing time unless there is an injury.

No. 37. Jason Trusnik

Position: Linebacker

2013 stats: 25 tackles

Analysis: Every team needs a versatile veteran like Trusnik. He was a backup who can play all three linebacker positions. Trusnik also was a key member on special teams. His versatility has kept him in the NFL for seven years. Dolphins page will continue “Walker's Fab 40” on Wednesday.
One of the biggest criticisms on the 2013 Miami Dolphins is the lack of production from their rookie draft class. The Dolphins drafted nine players – and each made the team out of training camp.

Here is a look at how each Miami rookie fared last season:

DE Dion Jordan, first round, No. 3 overall

Stats: 26 tackles, two sacks

Analysis: The bar was high for Jordan entering the year. Miami traded up to the No. 3 pick to get Jordan, which shows how much its front office thought of him as a player. Jordan never got his footing following offseason shoulder surgery. He wasn’t 100 percent in training camp or the preseason and fell behind more productive players like Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby. Jordan must put on more weight and get stronger against the run in 2014. He will start next year as a backup.

CB Jamar Taylor, second round, No. 54 overall

Stats: 3 tackles

Analysis: Similar to Jordan, offseason ailments stunted Taylor’s growth. He had multiple health issues before and during training camp, which put Taylor behind. The Dolphins could certainly use their second-round pick at corner in 2014. The secondary is not deep and has some pending free agents. Taylor should get multiple opportunities to find a role next season.

OL Dallas Thomas, third round, No. 77 overall

Stats: No stats

Analysis: Thomas was a major disappointment as a rookie. Miami’s offensive line had a plethora of issues on and off the field, and Thomas still was unable to see the field. Even undrafted rookie Sam Brenner took playing time from Thomas. Thomas appears to be a better guard than tackle, and the Dolphins will have a void with starters John Jerry and Richie Incognito as pending free agents.

CB Will Davis, third round, 93 overall

Stats: 8 tackles

Analysis: Davis was an interesting case his rookie year. He was the talk of training camp after constantly picking off Miami quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore in practice. Davis unofficially led the Dolphins in training camp interceptions and got one pick in a preseason game. Davis appeared on his way to finding a role on the team. However, a toe injury kept Davis out several weeks and he never got back into the rotation. Davis received spotty playing, but certainly not enough to find a groove. Davis should get another chance to get into the rotation in next year’s camp.

LB Jelani Jenkins, fourth round, 104 overall

Stats: 17 tackles

Analysis: Jenkins came to Miami as a raw product from the University of Florida. The Dolphins felt his athletic ability would translate well, and that got Jenkins on the field some in sub packages and special teams. Jenkins’ biggest play was a crushing blow on Buffalo Bills quarterback Thad Lewis in October that resulted in an NFL fine. The Dolphins need to see more big hits – albeit legal ones – for Jenkins to get more playing time in 2014. But there were some flashes.

TE Dion Sims, fourth round, 106 overall

Stats: Six receptions, 32 yards, one touchdown

Analysis: Sims had a decent training camp and translated that into playing time this year. A season-ending knee injury to Dustin Keller moved Sims up the depth chart to the second tight end behind starter Charles Clay. However, Miami used a ton of three-receiver sets. Sims didn’t get many reps, outside of being an extra blocker. Sims’ biggest play was a game-winning touchdown catch against the Atlanta Falcons.

RB Mike Gillislee, fifth round, 164 overall

Stats: Six carries, 21 yards

Analysis: Despite Miami’s inability to run the football consistently, Gillislee spent most of the year on the inactive list. He dressed on Dec. 1 against the New York Jets and rushed for 21 yards. The Dolphins could be looking for upgrades at running back this offseason via the draft or free agency. Next season could be make or break for Gillislee to prove himself.

K Caleb Sturgis, fifth round, 166 overall

Stats: 26-of-34 on field goals, 33-of-33 on extra points

Analysis: Minus some rookie hiccups, Sturgis had a strong rookie season as Miami’s new kicker. He replaced longtime Dolphins veteran Dan Carpenter and led the team in scoring with 111 points. Sturgis displayed a strong leg with field goals and kickoffs. The Dolphins appear set at the kicker position for years to come.

DB Don Jones, seventh round, 250 overall

Stats: 10 tackles, one tackle for loss

Analysis: Jones came to Miami as a long shot to make the team. But his ability to play special teams earned him a roster spot and he stayed there all year. Jones was one of the Dolphins’ best players in the third phase of the game. He made some big hits in kick coverage and that should help him find a roster spot again next season.
DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins returned to the practice field for the first time in preparation for the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

Here are some notes and observations:
  • Miami Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake practiced on Wednesday. He did individual work, but the team portion was not open to the media. Wake sat out of Monday’s game with a sprained knee, and his status this week is unknown. Defensive tackle Paul Soliai (knee) also practiced and is expected to play after doing so against the New Orleans Saints.
  • Dolphins cornerback Dimitri Patterson missed practice again with a groin injury. On a short week, it’s doesn’t appear likely that Patterson will play. He’s missed the past two games and can get two weeks of rest in addition to the bye.
  • Miami was without two special teamers on Wednesday. Backup defensive back Don Jones and linebacker Jason Trusnik were both working on the side with trainers. That partially explains the re-signing this week of Austin Spitler, who is was a core special team player the past three seasons.

We will have more from Dolphins camp coming up this afternoon with reaction from the locker room. You can also follow me on Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL.

Can Dolphins special teams make impact?

September, 29, 2013
DAVIE, Fla. -- When you have two undefeated teams playing at a high level, something unexpected could be the difference.

Could special teams play a major role in Monday’s huge matchup between the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints?

"It’s huge," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “They have excellent specialists. We feel like our specialists have played very, very well up to this point in time. They have a good group of core players, as do we. ... It’s going to be a very good matchup in special teams.”

The Dolphins take the third phase of the game very serious, and it’s one reason Miami is 3-0. Philbin plays several starters on his special-teams units and also is getting tremendous production from his rookie class.

Rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis is perfect in six field goal attempts, which includes two makes of 50 yards or more. Seventh-round pick Don Jones has been a monster on special teams and he caused a critical fumble last week against the Atlanta Falcons. No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan also has contributed.

The Dolphins are starting to find their right mix of aggressive, special-teams players.

“I think special teams is all about who wants it the most,” Jones said. “You got to line up and say, ‘I’m going to kick your tail on this rep,’ and then do it.”

Most of the hype this week has revolved around the big keys on offense and defense for Miami and New Orleans. But winning on special teams could also go a long way.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins made their roster cuts to 53 players on Saturday evening. In all, I correctly predicted 50 out of 53 players on Friday, which is a stellar 94.3 percent.

Here is a look at the three calls that I missed:

No. 1: QB Pat Devlin

Walker's bad pick: WR Marvin McNutt

Analysis: Whether to keep or release Devlin was probably the toughest decision Miami’s front office and coaching staff had to make. I predicted Devlin’s release because Miami had two good quarterbacks (Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore), and keeping him would impact depth at another position. The Dolphins went the other way and it impacted depth at wide receiver. Miami only has four receivers after cutting McNutt, who had a solid preseason. Maybe you can count five if you consider tailback and return specialist Marcus Thigpen as a legit slot option. The Dolphins run a lot of three-receiver sets and probably will add another player at that position in the coming days.

No. 2: DB Don Jones

Walker's bad pick: DT Kheeston Randall

Analysis: This one is a head-scratcher. Nothing against Jones, but Miami’s seventh-round pick was my biggest surprise to make the 53-man roster. In my opinion, Jones didn’t show enough in training camp or the preseason to get the nod, especially at the expense of a good backup defensive lineman like Randall. Jones is a draft pick, and that always carries weight with general manager Jeff Ireland. It’s early for Jones. Maybe he eventually turns into a player. But Randall is a good NFL player now and should find work soon.

No. 3: LB Josh Kaddu

Walker's bad pick: LB Austin Spitler

Analysis: This one could have gone either way, especially since Kaddu and Spitler are both backup linebackers. Miami went for the younger player instead. I thought Spitler’s experience and added value on special teams would be enough to get one of the final spots. But an argument could be made for either player. No complaints here with the Dolphins choosing Kaddu. However, all three players who made it are on the hot seat considering the Dolphins are expected to make waiver claims.