Miami Dolphins: Vaughn Martin

MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins completed their fifth and final preseason game Thursday night with a 24-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints. This game was played mostly by backups on both sides.

Earlier this week, I mapped out three things to watch from Miami’s perspective. Here is a recap of how the team fared in those areas:

1. Players on the bubble: Much of Miami’s roster is set. But this was a big game for those toward the back end. The biggest bubble player was third-string quarterback Pat Devlin. He showed some good and some bad with 259 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Dolphins must decide if it’s worth keeping three signal-callers or use that extra spot on another position. Bubble players with better showings Thursday were defensive lineman Vaughn Martin (four tackles, a half-sack) and safety Kelcie McCray (four tackles) and wide receiver Marvin McNutt (four receptions, 99 yards). This trio may have done enough to claim three of Miami's final roster spots.

2. Progression of tight ends: Miami is still in search of its best option at tight end after losing starter Dustin Keller (knee) for the season. Projected starter Charles Clay was inactive. But Dion Sims stepped up, grabbing four balls for 36 yards and a touchdown. Second-year tight end Michael Engew also got a lot of playing time but didn’t produce, to the tune of one reception for 5 yards. Sims is raw, but he has a good chance to contribute if he gains experience.

3. No injuries: Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin played it as safe as possible in this one. He sat every starter with the exception of right guard John Jerry, who needed the work. As a result, Miami walked out of the fifth preseason game with no significant injuries to its starting lineup. Barring any setbacks next week in practice, the Dolphins should enter their Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Cleveland Browns in good health.

Observation deck: Dolphins-Saints

August, 29, 2013
MIAMI -- Rapid reaction from the Miami Dolphins' 24-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints at Sun Life Stadium in Thursday's preseason finale:

What it means: This game didn’t mean anything for key players. That is why Miami head coach Joe Philbin decided to sit quarterback Ryan Tannehill and a majority of Miami’s starters. It was mostly about preventing injuries, and the Dolphins accomplished that goal. Miami will enter the regular season mostly in good health.

Devlin showcase: Third-string quarterback Pat Devlin entered on the roster bubble, and got the start against New Orleans in what was essentially a showcase game. Devlin showed some good and some bad. He finished 22-of-38 passing for 259 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Dolphins will debate ahead of Saturday's deadline whether to keep Devlin on the 53-man roster.

Bubble performers: It was a good day for several Dolphins on the bubble. Two who particularly helped their standing were defensive lineman Vaughn Martin and safety Kelcie McCray. Martin recorded four tackles and was credited with a half-sack, while McCray had four tackles and stayed around the football. Receiver Marvin McNutt also had four receptions for 99 yards -- which included a 56-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter -- to most likely solidify a roster spot.

Tight-end development: Miami is still in search of a player to replace injured tight end Dustin Keller, who is out for the year with a knee injury. Rookie Dion Sims took a step in the right direction with four receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown. Charles Clay, who rested Thursday, is the most experienced backup tight end and the leader in the clubhouse. But Sims might be the most complete option with his blocking and catching. The rookie may also have the highest ceiling. Sims just needs to work on his consistency.

Cuts are coming: Miami must trim its roster to 53 players by Saturday evening. The Dolphins have 25 players to cut, and there will be several tough decisions to make the end of the roster.

What’s next: Now the real fun begins. The Dolphins will prepare over the next 10 days for their regular-season opener on Sept. 8 at the Cleveland Browns. It was a long preseason for the Dolphins. They were one of two teams to have five exhibition games. Miami hopes the extra work paid off.