THE DOLPHINS DISCUSSION

The Dolphins Discussion offers our opinion on a pertinent topic involving the Dolphins. Today we examine the tough position battles on the team.

The Dolphins will play their third preseason game Friday night against Atlanta, and that will be the most important preseason game for the starters.

But for those on the bubble and trying to make the team, the most crucial game will be the preseason finale at New Orleans, scheduled for next Thursday night.

Let's take a quick look at some of the tough position battles going on.

Quarterback — There's no battle. It will be Jay Fiedler, Brian Griese and Sage Rosenfels.

Halfback — Ricky Williams and Travis Minor will make the team, and so will return specialist Charlie Rogers. That leaves Robert Edwards and Leonard Henry fighting for one spot, although Coach Dave Wannstedt said this week he just might go ahead of keeping everyone. We don't see that happening, and right now would give the edge to Henry.

Fullback — Obafemi Ayanbadejo appears to have pretty much locked up the job behind starter Rob Konrad. Sedrick Irvin's only shot is to be nothing short of brilliant the last two weeks and hope Ayanbadejo struggles.

Wide receiver — The big question mark here is what to do with Oronde Gadsden, but it appears he's going to have a hard time making the roster. We see the Dolphins keeping five wideouts, and those five being Chris Chambers, Derrius Thompson, James McKnight, Sam Simmons and J.R. Tolver.

Tight end — The Dolphins definitely will keep Randy McMichael, rookie Donald Lee and long-snapper Sean McDermott. Veteran Marco Battaglia looks like a toss-up at this point.

Offensive line — The first seven spots are pretty well locked in with Todd Wade, Todd Perry, Tim Ruddy, Jamie Nails, Wade Smith, Mark Dixon and Seth McKinney. That leaves probably two spots to be decided among Billy Yates, Taylor Whitley, Greg Jerman, Troy Andrew, Tim Provost and Dwayne Pierce. We'll give the edge right now to Yates and Whitley. Don't be shocked if the Dolphins only keep eight, though.

Defensive line — The Dolphins usually keep nine and the only question is who will be the ninth while David Bowens remains on PUP. The logical choice right now is rookie agent Otis Grigsby, who has shown flashes.

Linebacker — The injury to rookie Eddie Moore apparently has opened the door for former CFL standout Brendon Ayanbadejo, who should join Corey Jenkins and Tommy Hendricks as the backups to Junior Seau, Zach Thomas and Morlon Greenwood.

Defensive back — The Dolphins figure to keep five cornerbacks and five safeties and nine of those spots appear locked up, with Sam Madison, Patrick Surtain, Terrell Buckley, Jamar Fletcher, Brock Marion, Sammy Knight, Shawn Wooden, Trent Gamble and Arturo Freeman. That leaves one spot for a cornerback, with Omare Lowe and Alphonso Roundtree probably in the lead right now.

Kickers — Olindo Mare will be the placekicker, and it appears Mark Royals will retain his job as the punter despite free agent Kevin Stemke's fine work in the preseason.


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