The Hot Spots

In exactly two weeks, all NFL teams will have to make their first round of cuts and drop their active roster from a maximum of 90 players to 75. The last round of cuts, to the final 53, will come four days later on Saturday, Aug. 31. Two games into the Dolphins' preseason schedule, it's clear there are certain positions that are going to create tough decisions in the last week of August.

But where are the toughest choices going to have to be made?


As defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle pointed out Monday, teams usually keep five or six cornerbacks depending on the coverage ability of the safeties. The Dolphins have clearly more than six capable cornerbacks currently on the roster. At this point, free agent pick-up Brent Grimes, veterans Dimitri Patterson and Richard Marshall, and draft picks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis appear locks to make the 53-man roster. But then you have Nolan Carroll, who has starting experience and is a good special teams player; R.J. Stanford, another good special teams player; and young players DeAndre Presley and Julian Posey, who both have ability. So something is going to have to give. One possibility here is trading one of the veterans, but Marshall and Patterson both are scheduled to make $4.5 million in base salary this year, which makes them tough to trade, and there's no way the Dolphins are trading Grimes with the way he's been looking in camp.


The Dolphins don't have an Adrian Peterson or Maurice Jones-Drew on their roster, but they do have a lot of young running backs with ability. Lamar Miller has big-play ability, Daniel Thomas is a former second-round pick who has shown flashes, Mike Gillislee is a rookie fifth-round pick coming off a big year at Florida, and Jonas Gray has been impressive this camp and is the most physical back of the bunch. In addition, Marcus Thigpen is listed on the roster as a running back even though he's been getting practice snaps at wide receiver. He's going to make the team because he's too good as a kick returner to let go. The Dolphins aren't likely to keep five running backs (counting Thigpen at that position), so something will have to give. The idea of trading a running back for a draft pick is nice, just not realistic. Let's face it, running backs just don't have that kind of value anymore.


The Dolphins are set at the top with Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson, but there's quite the battle for what should be two spots. The leading contenders at this point appear to be Rishard Matthews, Marvin McNutt and Chad Bumphis. All three are practice squad-eligible, so maybe the Dolphins cut one of them in the hopes they clear waivers. In the event the Dolphins keep six wide receivers — it's not typical but has happened before — then there's practically zero chance the Dolphins would keep their four halfback plus Thigpen.


This has been a big topic of conversation throughout camp, mainly because of the left tackle and right guard spots. But Jonathan Martin is clearly the starter at left tackle, and the belief here is still that either John Jerry or Lance Louis is going to wind up starting at right guard. That said, Nate Garner and Josh Samuda will make the team, as will third-round pick Dallas Thomas. That's eight offensive linemen there, leaving room for at most one other guy on the roster. Then the Dolphins would be left to decide among Will Yeatman, in his second year at tackle after switching from tight end; the loser of the Jerry-Louis battle; and their group of young players, including tackle Andrew McDonald, who the Dolphins kept on the practice squad all of last season.

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