Analyzing the final cuts

The Dolphins had some tough decisions to make to get down to the NFL-mandated roster limit of 53 players (see story below). The most interesting moves involved wide receiver Antonio Freeman, as well as the linebacker and running back spots. We break down the final cuts.

Let's go by position, to make things simple.

Quarterback - This obviously was very simple, with Jay Fiedler, A.J. Feeley and Sage Rosenfels leaving no room for Clint Stoerner.

Running back - This one was a little tricky. It was given that Travis Minor, Sammy Morris and fullback Rob Konrad would make the team. The big questions were who would be the next halfback kept and would the Dolphins keep two fullbacks? The Dolphins indeed decided to keep two pure fullbacks, which makes a lot of sense given Konrad's history of minor injuries. That' why keeping Doug Easlick, who will never do anything but block, made sense. At halfback, the Dolphins liked Fred Russell as a kickoff returner, but he didn't offer anything as a runner. When Leonard Henry made his first preseason appearance Friday night and really ran well, that sealed the deal and made Henry the obvious choice.

Wide receiver - Many people might be shocked that Antonio Freeman was let go, but the mere fact the Dolphins waited a week after his workout to sign him should have been an indication they weren't necessarily all that enamored with him. The truth is Freeman doesn't run very well anymore. The foursome of Chris Chambers, Marty Booker, Derrius Thompson and kick returner Sam Simmons appeared solid all along, and we can tell you newcomer Bryan Gilmore probably nailed down his roster spot Friday night when he turned a short out pattern into a 36-yard touchdown after breaking a tackle.

Tight end - The Dolphins thought long and hard about keeping four tight ends, but John Jones did everything this summer to get himself off the team and he succeeded. He missed the team flight to Houston for those practices, he committed a couple of penalties, dropped a pass or two, and for good measure didn't make the flight to New Orleans Friday. So as much as the Dolphins liked his special teams abilities, Jones gave them more reason to cut him.

Offensive line - This came down to which young lineman the Dolphins would let and whether they would go with eight or nine on the roster. They decided to trade Brad Bedell to Green Bay for a conditional draft pick -- it won't be high -- and let go Billy Yates, who looked pretty much the same to us as sixth-round pick Rex Hadnot or even starting right guard Taylor Whitley for that matter. But the Dolphins had to make a choice, and the fact that Yates made the team last year as an undrafted free agent may have played against him.

Defensive line - Anyone who saw Ronald Flemons rack up three sacks Friday night might have been surprised to see him get cut, but the decision came down to the Dolphins preferring to keep five tackles because of the promise shown by Tony Brown. The release of Otis Grigsby came after he entered camp with high hopes. There even was a story in a South Florida newspaper suggesting he could challenge for the starting left defensive end job in light of the Adewale Ogunleye situation. But Grigsby simply wasn't very impressive all summer.

Linebacker - Coach Dave Wannstedt hinted last week he might keep eight linebackers on the active roster, and he followed through by keeping all of his young backs, Derrick Pope, Tony Bua, Eddie Moore, Corey Jenkins and Brendon Ayanbadejo. Of the five, Moore probably was the least impressive of the bunch and we certainly make room for the possibility the Dolphins kept him because he was their top draft choice just a year ago.

Defensive back - There wasn't much suspense here other than who would be the ninth defensive back, and the nod went to cornerback Jimmy Wyrick, who finished last season with the Dolphins.

Kickers - There was absolutely no suspense here with Matt Turk and Olindo Mare the only punter and kicker on the roster, respectively.

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