The Roster Battles

Now that the Dolphins — mercifully — have wrapped up their preseason schedule, the next order of business is getting down to the 53-man roster limit. The cuts must be made by Saturday at 4 p.m. and Coach Tony Sparano is going to have some tough decisions to make, as we can see when we break down the roster by position.

QUARTERBACKS

On the roster: Chad Henne, Matt Moore, Kevin O'Connell, Pat Devlin

Number likely to be kept: 3

Locks: Henne, Moore

On the bubble: O'Connell, Devlin

As good as gone: None

Analysis: The Dolphins look pretty solid with Henne and Moore, but neither O'Connell nor Devlin showed a lot in the preseason in their limited opportunities and both are unproven commodities. It wouldn't necessarily be shocking to see the Dolphins look elsewhere for their No. 3 quarterback.

Projection: Henne, Moore, O'Connell

RUNNING BACKS

On the roster: Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas, Larry Johnson, Lex Hilliard, Nic Grigsby, Lousaka Polite (FB)

Number likely to be kept: 4 or 5

Locks: Bush, Thomas, Clay

On the bubble: Johnson, Hilliard, Polite

As good as gone: Grigsby

Analysis: Charles Clay figures in here even though he's not mentioned because he can play H-back, fullback and tight end. His presence along with that of the versatile Hilliard actually might mean the end of pure fullback Polite. Johnson logically should make this team because of what he's done in the past.

Projection: Bush, Thomas, Johnson, Hilliard

WIDE RECEIVERS

On the roster: Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore, Clyde Gates, Julius Pruitt, John Matthews, Patrick Carter, Phillip Livas

Number likely to be kept: 5 or 6

Locks: Marshall, Bess, Hartline, Gates, Wallace

On the bubble: Moore, Livas

As good gone: Pruitt, Matthews, Carter

Analysis: It was interesting to see Brian Hartline actually played against Dallas Thursday night, while every other starter sat. Does that say something about his roster status? Was he being showcased for a trade? The Dolphins have a good number of good young prospects here. Livas emerged when he returned a punt for a touchdown against Atlanta but likely didn ‘t do enough to rest of the preseason to stick.

Projection: Marshall, Bess, Hartline, Gates, Wallace, Moore

TIGHT ENDS

On the roster: Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay, Jeron Mastrud, Mickey Shuler, Dedrick Epps, Brett Brackett

Number likely to be kept: 2 or 3

Locks: Fasano, Clay

On the bubble: Shuler, Mastrud, Brackett

As good as gone: Epps

Analysis: The Dolphins have no proven commodity here behind Fasano, and the truth is that none of the young guys sepated himself from the pack in the preseason. It's very possible the No. 2 tight end, not counting the versatile Clay, isn't on the roster at this time.

Projection: Fasano, Clay, Mastrud

OFFENSIVE LINE

On the roster: T Jake Long, G/C Richie Incognito, C Mike Pouncey, G Vernon Carey, T Marc Colombo, C Joe Berger, T Lydon Murtha, G John Jerry, G/T Nate Garner, G Ray Feinga, T Ray Willis, T Matt Kopa, T D.J. Jones, G Garrett Chisolm

Number likely to be kept: 9

Locks: Long, Incognito, Pouncey, Carey, Colombo, Murtha

On the bubble: Berger, Jerry, Garner, Feinga, Willis

As good as gone: Kopa, Jones, Chisolm

Analysis: This will not be an easy cut for Tony Sparano because little seems to differentiate his backups. It may well come down to the ability to play more than one spot on the line, which is where guys like Garner and Feinga have an edge.

Projection: Long, Incognito, Pouncey, Carey, Colombo, Murtha, Berger, Garner, Willis

DEFENSIVE LINE

On the roster: DE Kendall Langford, NT Paul Soliai, DE Randy Starks, DE Jared Odrick, DE/NT Tony McDaniel, DE Phillip Merling, NT Ronald Fields, DE Ryan Baker, DE Rob Rose, NT Frank Kearse

Number likely to be kept: 6 or 7

Locks: Langford, Soliai, Starks, Odrick, McDaniel

On the bubble: Fields, Merling, Baker

As good as gone: Rose, Kearse

Analysis: This is easily the best position on the team, which will make this a tough cut. This also is the one position where the Dolphins could ship one of their players, likely Merling, to another team to get a draft pick in return.

Projection: Langford, Soliai, Starks, Odrick, McDaniel, Fields, Baker

LINEBACKERS

On the roster: OLB Cameron Wake, ILB Karlos Dansby, ILB Kevin Burnett, OLB Koa Misi, OLB Jason Taylor, ILB A.J. Edds, ILB Marvin Mitchell, ILB Austin Spitler, OLB Ike Alama-Francis, ILB David Nixon, OLB Jonathan Freeny, OLB Quinton Spears, OLB/ILB Jason Trusnik,

Number likely to be kept: 8

Locks: Wake, Dansby, Burnett, Misi, Taylor, Trusnik, Edds

On the bubble: Mitchell, Alama-Francis, Spitler

As good as gone: Freeny, Spears, Nixon

Analysis: This will be a very tough call between the three guys on the bubble, and it might come to pass that Sparano decides to keep an extra linebacker. If special teams becomes the deciding factor, Spitler and Mitchell have the edge there on Alama-Francis.

Projection: Wake, Dansby, Burnett, Misi, Taylor, Trusnik, Edds, Mitchell

DEFENSIVE BACKS

On the roster: CB Vontae Davis, CB Sean Smith, S Yeremiah Bell, S Chris Clemons, S Reshad Jones, CB Will Allen, CB Benny Sapp, CB Nolan Carroll, CB Jimmy Wilson, CB Nate Ness, CB Vincent Agnew, S Tyrone Culver, S Mark Restelli, S Gerald Alexander

Number likely to be kept: 9 or 10

Locks: Davis, Smith, Bell, Clemons, Jones

On the bubble: Allen, Sapp, Carroll, Wilson, Culver, Alexander

As good as gone: Restelli, Agnew, Ness

Analysis: This is another area where there'll be some tough decisions and a trade (Allen or Sapp) is a distinct possibility. Wilson seemed a lock afetr the first couple of preseason games, but he seemed to regress in the last two games.

Projection: Davis, Smith, Bell, Clemons, Jones, Wilson, Culver, Allen, Sapp, Carroll

SPECIALISTS

On the roster: K Dan Carpenter, P Brandon Fields, LS John Denney

Number likely to be kept: 3

Locks: Carpenter, Fields, Denney

On the bubble: None

As good as gone: None

Analysis: No challengers for the three incumbents.

Projection: Carpenter, Fields, Denney


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