The Miami Dolphins open their 2015 Training Camp this week, welcoming up to 90 players to the team's practice facility in Davie, Florida. Each player comes into camp with a different mindset.
There is a group that knows their job is secure and it's just a matter of preparing for the long haul of the regular season.
There is a group that is pretty sure they'll have a job when Week 1 rolls around, but there's still a little seed of doubt up there.
Then there is the group that knows they may not have a job in a month, but a strong performance in August could very well change their fate. This is the group that we're focusing on today.
There are several players who are on the roster bubble, meaning that they play a position where there may only be one or two openings past that first group of players that are definitely going to be on the roster.
These bubble guys will be under the microscope as long as they are in camp, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Here are the top offensive players on the roster bubble that you may want to keep an eye on.
The Dolphins currently are carrying four quarterbacks on the roster, but Ryan Tannehill is the starter and not going anywhere, and Matt Moore is a coaches favorite who has held the backup job since Tannehill took over. The only way that Miami would replace Moore is if one of the other two arms in camp really stepped up and forced them to make a move. Those two quarterbacks are former 1st round pick Josh Freeman and undrafted free agent McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
Freeman was signed by Miami back in April only to be cut in late-July and re-signed four days later. Clearly the Dolphins see something in Freeman, whether its just a fourth camp arm or some of the potential he once showed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Either way, we'll find out soon enough. Bethel-Thompson was signed as an undrafted rookie by the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 and has bounced around the league since, never throwing an NFL pass.
Ironically Bethel-Thompson made the Minnesota Vikings 53-man roster in 2012, only to be released in early October when the team signed… you guessed it, Josh Freeman.
Miami has a very nice stable of running backs, but unfortunately there just isn't room on the roster for all of them. Lamar Miller is the unquestioned starter and rookie Jay Ajayi is full of potential and should certainly make the team. That leaves Damian Williams, LaMichael James and Mike Gillislee battling it out for the final two spots.
Williams was signed by the Dolphins last season as an undrafted rookie and showed some nice improvements as the year went on, working his way onto the field and having some success. James was a very successful college back that never really got a chance in the pros. The coaching staff has had a lot of good things to say about James during the offseason and he could be ready to break out. Gillislee is a former 2013 5th round pick by Miami but has yet to reach the potential that was seen him when he was at the University of Florida.
This is one of the deepest positions on the Dolphins roster. Miami appears to be bringing twelve receivers into camp, but will likely only take six out. Therein lies the problem for the majority of the twelve. Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and rookie 1st round pick DeVante Parker are locks to make the team, and veteran Dolphins receiver Rishard Matthews is also expected to be there for Week 1. If Matthews does in fact make the team, that leaves just one spot for seven guys to fight over.
The favorite right now has to be Matt Hazel, who was drafted by Miami in the 5th round in 2014. Hazel has been busting his butt all offseason to get better and prove to the coaching staff that he deserves a spot on the final 53-man roster. Former University of Miami wideouts LaRon Byrd and Tommy Streeter have a chance to steal the spot with a strong performance during camp, and the same can be said about undrafted Alabama rookie Christion Jones.
The Dolphins will likely carry three tight ends into the season. Free-agent signing and former Pro Bowler Jordan Cameron will make the team, as will third year Dolphin Dion Sims. Of the four remaining tight ends, it's difficult to say if there is a favorite to take the third spot. Miami's 2014 5th round pick, Arthur Lynch, spent his entire rookie season injured and has to prove that he should be kept around.
Pushing Lynch for the final spot will be the massive Jake Stoneburner, who is 6-8, and practice squad veteran Gerell Robinson. Since going undrafted in 2012, Robinson has bounced around a few different practice squads before landing in Miami last October. By December he was on the active roster, so the coaching staff has already seen some improvements out of him.
Stoneburner was signed to the Dolphins practice squad last November and has had some impressive catches during offseason workouts in Davie. His size makes him an appealing option, but he will have to round out his game a little better if he's going to make the final roster.
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