PLAYERS ON THE SPOT

The Dolphins' front-line players will barely break a sweat tonight in the preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the game is going to be very important for several players either trying to earn a roster spot or keep one.

Coach Dave Wannstedt has made it clear that, except for a few spots, his roster will have taken shape by the time the Dolphins play their third preseason game, Aug. 24 at Houston.

That leaves Monday night's game and Thursday night's preseason home opener against New Orleans for young players to make their case, and for older players to show why they should be kept.

When asked on Sunday whether he expected his young players to make a positive impression against the Bucs and Saints, Wannstedt replied: "I hope they do. That is their only chance of making it. They are going to have to catch our eye."

Here's a look at some of the players on the spot and in the spotlight tonight.

• QB Zak Kustok — Kustok is involved in a battle for the No. 3 job with Tim Levcik and will get to play the last quarter and a half tonight, with Levcik getting the same opportunity Thursday night. With this battle so close, it could come down to who performs better in his preseason appearance.

• FB Deon Dyer — This position has been addressed before. Dyer is fighting to keep his roster spot after the addition of veteran Obafemi Ayanbadejo and he can't afford any slip-ups during the preseason.

• RB Leonard Henry — The Dolphins have been very high on this kid, but he needs to make an impact on special teams to make the roster.

• G Jamie Nails — He is the only one of the veteran offensive linemen expecting to see a lot of action tonight. The slimmer and much-improved Nails will make the team, but he could even wind up starting if he continues to impress. Considering he's going to be going against second-teamers a lot on Monday night, he needs to be dominant.

• DE David Bowens — Bowens currently is slated to start at left defensive end, but he's going to face a battle from Jay Williams. It might come down to who performs better in the preseason.

• LB Justin Seaverns — The Dolphins have been impressed with his all-out style, but he needs to make some plays in the preseason if he hopes to land a roster spot.

• CB Jamar Fletcher — He's going to make the team, and it's difficult to envision him not being the nickel cornerback, but he needs to put together a strong preseason showing after an inconsistent performance in training camp.


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