DECISION TIME

Now that the preseason is over, the next order of business for Coach Dave Wannstedt and the Dolphins braintrust is to finalize the 53-man roster that will go into the regular season. It won't be an easy task.

In addition to deciding which players to keep, the Dolphins are also looking around the league to see if there will be players who become available who could help them.

Wannstedt said on Friday Dolphins scouts have been studying players on our teams.

"We've got the league covered," he said. "We've zeroed in on certain positions."

It's pretty obvious where the Dolphins could use some outside help at this point, and that's at linebacker and cornerback.

The best player at that position who appears available might be Philadephia cornerback Al Harris, a quality backup the Eagles are said to be considering trading — at the right price.

But whether that kind of deal cold be pulled is highly questionable.

The first order of business is taking care of the guys on their roster.

As we mentioned before the preseason finale against Chicago, the toughest decisions will be at wide receiver, defensive tackle and safety.

At wide receiver, it appears to be a two-man battle between veteran Jeff Ogden and youngster Albert Johnson.

Ogden had a horrible game against Chicago, but he's proven himself enough the past couple of years that it shouldn't be a factor in the decision. The difference simply might be that Johnson brings a breakaway threat to the kick returner spot, and that's something the Dolphins haven't had in a while.

As for the defensive tackle, Wannstedt couldn't make his decision based on last night's game because none of the backup DTs fighting for a roster spot played well.

"That's one of the tough decisions we have to make," Wannstedt said. "We have two or three guys competing, and they all have their strengths and they all have their weaknesses."

At safety, Scott McGarrahan might have clinched a spot on the roster with a very good night on defense against Chicago.

That would leave Trent Gamble and Jason Moore on the outside looking in, unless the Dolphins decide to keep five safeties, which is entirely possible.

The stellar performance of fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo against the Bears might have created another dilemma for Wannstedt. Before that game, it appeared that Ayanbadejo was clearly running third behind Rob Konrad and Deon Dyer.

But Ayanbadejo was so impressive he might make the Dolphins think twice about letting him go.

The bottom line is Wannstedt will meet with his coaching and scouting staffs on Saturday, wait for word on some of the Dolphins' injured players and monitor the rest of the league before making final decisions.

There's no reason to rush what could be a key time, one that could affect what happens this season.

"We're going to talk through a lot of different scenarios," Wannstedt said. "A lot of it will have to do with health of our guys."


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