Dolphins fall to Bucs in Preseason Finale 22-17
There is not much you can really take from the fourth preseason game. Once again we saw a lot of ugly turnovers and penalties. But you hope to see some separation with players battling for a position on the team. Every team says it has some hard decisions to make and they do. But you have to feel that the Miami Dolphins will have a bigger burden than most of the teams. When it comes to back-up running back, wide receiver, and linebacker, the Dolphins coaches will be deep in debate on exactly who to keep and who to cut. At running back the decision is toughest. Tough because Jay Ajayai, who rushed for 66 yards and caught passes for another 37 yards looked impressive and ran like an NFL starter. However, he did leave in the third quarter with a chest injury of an unknown severity. Durability was the knock on him coming out of college. And then there was Michael Gillislee, 69 yards rushing and 2 TDs, who also looked strong. With Lamar Miller and Damien Williams locked in, it may entice the Dolphins to keep four backs. But at this point James might be the odd man out. At Wide Receiver Matt Hazel ran great routes and showed great hands. and looked like someone who could start for most teams in this league. It will be hard to let him go. Christion Jones looked solid as well, but looked really explosive in the return game where he returned a kick 108 yards only to have it nullified by a holding penalty. But the position is so deep maybe only one of these makes the team.
At linebacker Zack Vigil is certainly going to make the team. But the other four undrafted rookies have shown flashes, and Chris McCain who was last years player of promise last year is fighting for his roster spot. Whoever can make a name on special teams may be the winner in this group.
One position that is not in question is back-up QB. McLeod Bethel Johnson played the entire first half and the first series of the second half. Strong arm, but bad decisions resulted in two interceptions and one came at the goal line which not only kept the Dolphins from scoring but was returned 98 yards for a touchdown. He just does not have NFL caliber talent. Josh Freeman played the second half and did nothing to stand out and then threw two interceptions in a horrible performance. So although Matt Moore has struggled this year in preseason, he is your number two and he is the best of the worst.
By this Saturday the team will cut down to 53 players. and many players cut will not be a surprise, but when it comes to these key positions there will definitely be some surprises and some talent that Miami will hope will clear waivers and find their way on to the team's practice squad.
With the preseason behind is we can turn our attention to the opening game against the Redskins. Now it counts and I am ready to see how this version of the Miami Dolphins does when it finally matters.