On Tuesday when I approached Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland about the Dez Bryant matter, we had a good exchange and he ended it with this question:
"Do you have your 53 yet?"
Even I don't care about my 53. I care about Jeff Ireland's 53, and I would bet that's what you (my readers) care about, too.
But since Jeff didn't offer to share with me his 53 until the Dolphins actually cut down to that number by Saturday, it got me to thinking. Why not give you guys my 53 after all?
So, just for kicks, here it is:
Chad Henne, Chad Pennington, Tyler Thigpen.
My thinking: It is hard to cut a second-round pick, in this case Pat White. But he simply has not proven he's an NFL caliber player and it is better to cut losses now than continue to nurture a player who remains undersized and seemingly overmatched. No matter how much he learns the offense or defenses or settles down, he will still be a 5-11 or 6-foot QB in a 6-3 QB world. He will still have an inaccurate arm. He will never be 225 pounds and be able to absorb the hits in or out of the pocket.
Running Backs (5)
Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobbs, Lousaka Polite, Lex Hilliard.
My thinking: I keep Hilliard because he is a core special teams player and because Brown (injury history) and Williams (age and unpredictability) cannot be counted as certainties to play all 16 games. Cobbs sticks because he adds quickness to the offense when he's in there and he is a fine special teams player.
Wide Receivers (5)
Brandon Marshall, Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, Patrick Turner, Marlon Moore.
My thinking: Neither Turner nor Moore should buy houses locally. Not yet. If they do make the team, they will then have to survive the next round of concern, which is have they beaten out the sixth receivers around all the other teams that are now available? I would not feel secure about anything if I were them. And remember, there will be vets on the market in the second week that were cut simply because having them on the roster the first week would have guaranteed their entire season's salaries. Those vets will be signed by teams starting Sept. 13 and 14. Finally, Roberto Wallace is a tough guy to cut. He has that prototype body. He has tons of upside. If he doesn't indeed make it, he screams practice squad to me.
Tight ends (2)
Anthony Fasano, David Martin.
My thinking: Fasano and Martin, who is finally in good shape, have nailed down their spots. I cut John Nalbone, although he probably makes it for the actual Dolphins roster. The team likes him despite his inconsistent training camp and preseason. I went this direction because I fear injuries on the offensive line so I'm keeping an extra OLineman. I also believe the Dolphins can scour the waiver wire for tight ends better than John Nalbone.
Offensive linemen (9)
Jake Long, John Jerry, Vernon Carey, Richie Incognito, Jake Grove, Joe Berger, Donald Thomas, Lydon Murtha, Andrew Gardner.
My thinking: Make no mistake the Nate Garner injury is a definite painful setback. It means the loss of a versatile player that can start with little drop-off from anyone else. The final spots here come down to Donald Thomas vs. Cory Procter and I went with the younger guy, although Procter has at times been better than Thomas this preseason. I also went with Gardner ahead of Lydon Murtha as the backup tackle. Despite Gardner not having a great training camp, there is still something there about that kid I like. Doesn't mean the Dolphins feel the same way. Also, regardless of whether Murtha or Gardner make the team, the Dolphins will be looking to upgrade off the waiver wire so they should buy a house locally just yet.
Defensive Linemen (7)
Kendall Langford, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick, Charles Grant, Paul Soliai, Tony McDaniel, Marques Douglas.
My thinking: Grant and Douglas are renters, no question about that. They probably won't be on the team next year. But they have played well enough to make it for now. I could not put Montavious Stanley on there as well because we don't want three renters on the defensive line. Do not be surprised if the Dolphins put one or two young, hungry, up-and-coming defensive linemen on their practice squad with the hopes of developing them for later this season and next season. And, yes, I know I cut Lionel Dotson. What can I say? Three training camps and he's still a third-teamer? Got to move on.
Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby, Koa Misi, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Channing Crowder, Tim Dobbins, Micah Johnson, Charlie Anderson, Erik Walden.
My thinking: Right off the top, Austin Spitler missed two weeks of camp with a stomach virus and had a tough time catching up. He does deserve a practice squad spot. Chris McCoy also deserves a practice squad shot. But has either won a roster spot? Not that I've noticed. Tim Dobbins makes it because he's experienced, a good special teams guy and a good man to have in the locker room. Erik Walden, to me, has value on special teams so he makes my team. Micah Johnson is border line, I will grant you. Not fast, much to learn, not polished. But I love that he hits people. He needs to get more downhill, as coach Tony Sparano said, so his tackles come in the hole or the line of scrimmage. But he has potential, in my opinion. This kid will play in the NFL. I say the Dolphins should keep Folsom because, in part, he's OK on special teams but more importantly, because of the uncertain nature of Channing Crowder's injury status -- which increasingly is becoming a yearly issue with him. [UPDATE: My apologizies to Charlie Anderson. Overlooked him earlier. He's on there now. J.D. you're out. But in the real world it will likely come down to Folsom vs. Johnson.]
Defensive Backs (10)
Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, Benny Sapp, Nolan Carrolll, Will Allen, Jason Allen, Tyrone Culver, Chris Clemons, Yeremiah Bell, Reshad Jones.
My thinking: Yes, that's a lot of defensive backs but the injury to Will Allen forced this in my view of things. Another mitigating factor for keeping so many is that Carroll should win the kick return job, while Culver and Jason Allen are core special teams players -- meaning they play on all the special teams. Benny Sapp is the early-season insurance as the nickel corner so he makes it. Reshad Jones is going to be a good player and that hope is reason enough not to cut him and expose him to another team plucking him or signing him to their practice squad.
P Brandon Field, K Dan Carpenter, LS John Denney.
My thinking: Each of these guys signed contract extensions in the offseason and none have any real competition in camp. Even I can figure this one out.
[BLOG NOTE: The Dolphins and Cowboys finish up their preseason tonight with an 8 p.m. (EST) game. So, yes, there will be a live blog right here then. Join me for it during the game. Right here.]