Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey talked to the press today.
He shared that the trimming of the roster, which is his pervue, was instead a collaborative effort. He announced the acquisition of safety Brandian Ross and cornerback Sammy Seamster off waivers and the release of Don Jones and wide reciver Damian Williams.
Hickey is seems excited about the upcoming season, saying he's eager for the opener against the New England Patriots.
This is all he said:
(Opening statement) – “I appreciate you guys coming. Obviously, it’s been a very busy weekend all throughout the NFL and with our staff here. It’s really one of the tougher weekends just because you have so many players who have invested so much into our organization with their time, with their work and their passion, and they’ve been committed to us. Unfortunately, we can’t keep them all, so it’s a tough weekend having to try to narrow it down and make those tough decisions, but we worked hard at it. It’s been a collaborative process, both our personnel staff and our coaching staff working really hard. When it comes to the decisions, obviously, we released those last night. Our roster is always somewhat fluid. I just want to at this point announce, we’ve made two roster claims. We claimed Sammy Seamster out of the Baltimore Ravens and Brandian Ross from the Oakland Raiders. In corresponding roster moves, we’ve released (Don) Jones, safety, and Damian Williams, wide receiver. Again, a lot of these players definitely were tough decisions, but that’s what we’re going for now. The 53 man roster is fluid and we’re in the process of lining up our 10 practice squad players. We’ll be in that process for the rest of this afternoon trying to line those guys up. With that, I will open up to questions."
(On the decision to go with eight linebackers) – “Any time you are doing a 53-man roster and you’re talking about developing a 46-man roster that you take to the game, special teams plays a big part of that. Obviously, linebackers play a big role in our special teams. Even with some of our moves, providing depth in special teams, guys that can help us on fourth down is a key part of that. That played a big part of that.”
(On why the team claimed S Brandian Ross and DB Sammy Seamster) – “Just through our evaluations and through our preseason tape, as soon as we get to the Hall of Fame game, our scouts, myself, Eric Stokes, Joe Schoen, all of our pro personnel staff and even our college staff, we go through it and we grind all of the tape and just watching for players that could potentially help us. That was through a lot of film study. We felt like they provided both as positional players but also as special teams as a big part of their value."
(On if he could elaborate on taking C Mike Pouncey off PUP) – “With any of those types of decisions, we are always going to consult with our medical staff. Dr. John Uribe, Ryan Grove our head athletic trainer, and all of the doctors involved to make the best decision for the player and the health and well-being. Obviously, as we consulted with that and Mike visited numerous times up there, they monitored where he was at and we felt at this point, this was the best decision for him. We feel like we have a good plan for him. Mike is doing great in his recovery and we’ll just continue to monitor that as that progresses.”
(On what the cornerback depth looks like after the roster changes today) – “All of the 53-man roster, we would love to have a 100-man roster, so you’re always looking at the key areas of depth. Again, special teams plays a big part in that and so that was definitely an aspect of it.”
(On if there was any hesitation to keep not one, but two rookie free agents at running back) – “Our philosophy is, once you get here, whether you are an unrestricted free agent or whether you’ve already been on the roster, whether you are a draft pick or whether you are an undrafted player, we are going to judge you based on merit and what you do here. Once they are here, we have competitive environments and you just compete, and that’s how we come to our decisions.”
(On going with two quarterbacks) – “We were very confident in our two quarterbacks. Again, there is always that decision you keep a third quarterback. At this point, we’re keeping two and again the roster is fluid in that matter.”
(On where the team stands in the punting and kickoff return games with the release of WR Damian Williams) – “We feel like we have several guys who can compete there. During the preseason, you’ve see multiple guys who can go back there, whether it be on kickoff return or punt return. So we feel confident in those guys and we’ll work through that.”
(On how many of the eight linebackers on the roster can make impact plays to help the unit) – “We feel like defense is a collective unit. They all work intertwined, so whether it is the front getting pressure on the quarterback, making the quarterback hold the ball an extra second to get our guys to get into drops or getting breaks on the ball, or just opening up lanes so it could be a one-gap and they can fill those gaps. It’s important that they all work together on those. We feel (linebackers) Koa Misi, Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler, Jordie (Jordan) Tripp, you saw Chris McCain, some of those guys. We feel like we have a lot of talent there and we’re anxious to see them play.”
(On where the team has made upgrades from the previous year now that the 53-man roster is set) – “We’re always looking to have the best 53-man roster. You look at it more individually and trying to, ‘Does this person help us?’ With the goal obviously be winning and ‘Does this guy help us win?’ That’s our focus going forward is now we’re focused on our season opener. We went through the preseason. We’ve had a very productive preseason. We felt like we had a very productive offseason with our OTAs and building to this point. Now, we’re into the regular season and then that’s what we’re focused on.”
(On what it says about him as a General Manager and also the team that five undrafted rookies made the team) – “I would say that we judge you on what we see. Again, I always talk about, when it comes to scouting, I trust my eyes and our coaching staff is that way, our scouting staff is that way. We’re going to judge you based on merit and what we see, and ability to help us.”
(On the decision to keep K Caleb Sturgis and what he showed to give him confidence that this year will be better than last year) – “Body of work, but obviously we have confidence in him. He had the groin issue that caused him not to have the full amount of kicks, but we have confidence in him and look forward to him going forward.”
(On if there’s any concern that there may be a need for a practice squad kicker just in case) – “I’m always preparing for contingencies, whether it be from a short list or what we call an emergency list. We’re always looking at that and trying to get the best practice squad. We’ll entertain and explore all options that way.”
(On what initially attracted him to drafting DE Terrence Fede from Marist and what showed him that he would be a guy that would stick) – “Again, when we evaluate players, we evaluate traits. The traits that we saw out of Terrence, whether it be from initial quickness to power to motor to production, all of those things. What we saw was a guy that we felt had the traits to translate to the next level. Obviously, he’s coming from Marist and the competition (level there), but we felt like we had enough in him to make that jump. We’ve been excited with his development. He’s been held back the last couple of weeks, but we’re excited about his future. That’s how we judge all players. We evaluate the player.”
(On if anybody on the 53-man roster solidified their place on the roster as a result of their play in the St. Louis game) – “We’re always evaluating, whether it’s going back to the offseason program, OTAs, mini camp, training camp practices. We watch everything. It really is the body of work. The games are better competition, live, you’re taking people to the ground. Those are better opportunities, but it’s all a piece of the puzzle.”
(On the decision to release RB Daniel Thomas and RB/WR Marcus Thigpen given their roles with the team over the past two years) – “We just judge them individually. They’ve obviously have been good players in the past, but we felt like going forward that, in our best interest to get our best 53-man, we’re going to move on.”
(On five undrafted players making the roster and if that speaks to his ability to find guys from anywhere or if it speaks to the talent level of this team, and if it wasn’t that high) – “We felt like (this is a) competitive environment. The credit goes to those players. All of those first-year players when they come in, we said, ‘Look, it doesn’t matter how you got here. It’s up to you. You make of it what you will and then we’ll be watching.’ The credit goes to those players because they’ve proved themselves over a period of time, but the credit goes to them. They earned it.”
(On going through the process of forming the 53-man roster with Head Coach Joe Philbin for the first time and how it went) – “I think it went well. We had excellent communication and walking through it. Again, someone alluded to, this is a process. Just like a lot of things we do and just narrowing things down, and getting any discrepancies, just working through them over a period of time and trying to come to the best decision organizationally as we can.”
(On what makes him confident that this team is better than last year’s) – “What makes me confident about this team is the guys in that locker room. Having the chance the last seven months, my initial reaction was positive and it’s just been confirmed on every point. These guys are committed to winning, they’re passionate and they’ve paid the price. They’re excited to take the field at home and go to work.”
(On what made TE Harold Hoskins separate himself from the other tight ends in camp) – “Again, with the body of work, we felt like he had versatility. He’s got really good hands. We liked him coming out of college. So he did a lot of the things that we liked and we’re excited to watch him continue to grow.”
(On the depth at tight end and how comfortable he is with it) – “Again, I wish I could have a 100 people on our roster. You’re always looking for that and, as soon as you feel like you have depth at one place, you can find you don’t. We’re always looking at that, but we’re confident in those players.”
On what he’s seen and what he expects from T Branden Albert and T Ja’Wuan James) – “First, I’ll speak to Branden Albert. He’s been all that we’ve expected. One, he’s a talented talented pass protector, but also he brings that leadership. You have to protect the blindside of the quarterback. That’s a premium position and he’s done it well for a long time, and he’s continued to do it well here. We’re excited about that and also bringing strong leadership on the offensive line. Ja’Wuan James, we’ve been pleased with his progress. He came in and hasn’t missed a beat. He’s come in prepared and he’s come in confident. Every day, for a young player, you’re learning more and more, but he’s been a sponge and learning from the veterans and growing in his game. We’re excited for what he brings.”
(On what he and his staff from RB Orleans Darkwa in camp and preseason) – “We saw a lot of things. Darkwa brought burst, he brought ability to play on special teams, good hands. You guys watched the games. He showed a lot of things that you’d be excited about.”
(On his comfort level with the center position after C Samson Satele) – “Yes, we feel confident in Samson and we also feel confident in Nate Garner. We’ll continue to look and plan for contingencies on that.”
(On going through his first offseason, training camp and preseason as a general manager and what it’s been like personally) – “To me, I don’t think about it in a personal sense. It’s a team and that’s really how we approach this. All of the decisions we made are not one person. It’s teamwork, whether it be from the personnel staff and my assistant GM (general manager), director of player personnel and those guys, or whether it’s working with coaches. It’s a team decision just like it is on the field. That part has been really gratifying because (I’m) really confident and feel good about our team, and working through decisions that way. That’s a gratifying part is to have that teamwork functioning well and working collaboratively together.”
(On how he feels about the roster heading into the New England Patriots game) – “We’re excited about the season opener. Being at home, being in front of our home crowd, (we’re) really excited. It’s a divisional rival. We’re really going to get a test there. Obviously, they’re a talented group. I’m excited about this team and what they bring because of the preparation they’ve made going into this season, whether it goes back to the offseason, the preseason, gelling together as a team and (we’re) ready to take the field at Sun Life Stadium.”
(On why he didn’t spend up to the salary cap) – “You are always looking for a lot of different things. The great thing, Dawn Aponte does a great job managing our salary cap flexibility and that’s what you want to be able to do the decisions for whatever reason. It can come in a lot of different areas, whether it be in carrying over, free agency, all of the different areas. So fortunately, we have that cap flexibility and that’s a credit to Dawn and her staff.”
(On who comes to mind about if there were any surprises on the 53-man roster) – “Really not any surprises. Look, these guys came in and competed. You say surprises, when you watch them from the beginning of the offseason all the way through, you see flashes of things and so it’s really not surprising at that point because you are watching them grow and showcase what they are capable of doing.”
(On what his approach is with players who can become a free agent after the season with restructuring and re-negotiating contracts) – “We always look at all kinds of different options. Going back to the salary cap, we want to have flexibility. That helps with the decision-making process.”
(On if the team is able to provide game tape or similar contact with suspended players S Reshad Jones and DE Dion Jordan) – “With those situations, we are going to follow the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) rules, very limited if at all contact. We will follow it according to the CBA rules on that.”
(On if he sees himself using all 10 practice squad spots) – “Absolutely, especially the first week, there are a lot of moving pieces, whether it’s the first day of practice or all of those trying to get that spot. Absolutely, we are going to use all the resources we can to get good players in here.”
(On if there is an internal belief of when C Mike Pouncey would be ready to play) – “We rely on our doctors and again those decisions are somewhat fluid as they get the check points throughout his rehab where he is at, and we are going to follow the advice of our medical staff.”