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Miami Dolphins battle for a DT job will rage tonight

The final preseason game is a time for starters and some veterans to get the night off. And as the Miami Dolphins will be doing this preseason thingie against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this evening, it would be logical if most starters and vets do not play.

Except that may not be the case for three Miami defensive tackles.

The DT competition this preseason has been interesting. Obviously Ndamukong Suh, Earl Mitchell and rookie Jordan Phillips have roster spots locked up. Phillips, by the way, is not only on scholarship as the team's second-round pick, but he's actually earned his status as a backup.

But the Dolphins are likely to carry four defensive tackles so that leaves one spot available.

And three men are competing hard for that spot.

The men?

Ten-year veteran C.J. Mosley.

Second-year vet Anthony Johnson.

And first-year player A.J. Francis, who was actually a rookie in 2013 but was never active and then was on IR in 2014.

The competition here has been interesting and that's not even entertaining thoughts of Francis as a part-time Uber driver and Mosley's friendship with former teammate Suh, who obviously would like him on the team.

This competition began with Johnson, who played in seven games last season as a rookie, on second team. Both Francis and Mosley were on third team.

Then suddenly Mosley, who started very slowly, seemed to get better and moved up to second team. This while Johnson struggled against Carolina in the second preseason game.

It seemed as if Mosley had a roster spot sewn up. And then a funny thing happened to his guaranteed salary -- which happens if he is on the team after the final cuts.

Francis made his move. And last week Francis played with the second unit. And, per coaches, he played well enough to earn closer scrutiny.

And so these three players are locked in a battle for what is seemingly one job.

Now, it must be noted that while perhaps only one will make the 53-man roster, it is possible two might stick around. Francis is eligible for the practice squad.

But who wants to be on the practice squad and draw smaller paycheck when there's a chance at being on the big roster? I'm certain that's what Francis is shooting for.

We'll see what happens tonight.

One thing to keep in mind: Mosley has to be clearly better to win this battle. Because he is 32 years old and is scheduled to make $970,000, he is working with a twin disadvantage.

Both Francis and Johnson are younger -- Johnson by 10 years and Francis by seven years. Both Francis and Johnson would cost about half in salary of what Mosley would cost. Francis and Johnson are both scheduled to make $510,000.

I'm not saying the Dolphins make their decisions based on salary cap ramifications or age. But I am saying all else being equal, Mosley has strikes against him that neither Johnson nor Francis have.