MIAMI (CBSMiami) – During each training camp, as the final cut down day nears for the team, a group of players who have played good ball in the preseason wait on the proverbial bubble about whether or not they make the team.
Five players who are firmly on the bubble with just two preseason games left include: running back Jonas Gray; tight end Michael Egnew; wide receiver Brian Tyms; and safety Jordan Kovacs.
Gray is a player the Dolphins liked enough to sign to a contract as a rookie free agent, knowing that Gray wouldn’t be able to play for the team last year. The last full season Gray played was in 2011 when he was a senior at Notre Dame, when he ran for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns and averaged 6.9 yards a carry.
Gray tore his anterior cruciate ligament late in his senior year, which is why he was available as a rookie free agent.
The former Fighting Irish runner is referred to as a “bowling ball” by teammates because of his size 5’9”, 225 pounds. He’s played well in the preseason, but has several players in front of him on the roster including: Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, and rookie Mike Gillislee out of Florida.
The Dolphins also will likely keep Marcus Thigpen on the roster for kickoff return duties. So for Gray, he has to hope the Fins will keep five running backs on the roster and maybe lose a fullback or two.
Egnew’s place on the bubble became a lot less tenuous after Dustin Keller was lost for the year to a horrific knee injury against the Houston Texans. Egnew is an enigma that no one has been able to figure out.
In college at Missouri, Egnew was a stellar pass-catching tight end. Egnew caught more than 140 passes for more than 1,332 yards at Mizzou, and was a third-round pick by the Dolphins. Miami hoped he could recreate his pass catching prowess and learn how to block.
That didn’t happen in the first season with the team as even offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said at one point in the 2012 training camp that he would cut him if he could.
Egnew stuck it out and is listed at 6’5”, 255 pounds and still runs the 40-yard dash around 4.52 seconds. But, Egnew also spent most of the offseason learning to block, which he never did at Mizzou. His hard work has paid off as the coaches have said he’s had a strong training camp.
Egnew will likely make the team as either the second or third tight end on the roster along with Dion Sims and Charles Clay.
Tyms spent most of last year on the practice squad after playing his college ball at Florida A&M University. The second-year player is from Fort Lauderdale and making the Fins roster would be a dream come true.
He too faces a stacked depth chart in front of him. The Dolphins have the starters at wide receiver in place with Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Brandon Gibson. Marvin McNutt seems to have an inside track on one of the remaining positions, but the fifth wide receiver job is wide open.
Tyms is battling Julius Pruitt, Jeff Fuller, Keenan Davis, and Chad Bumphis for the fifth receiver job. Tyms’ production in the fourth and fifth preseason game will likely determine whether the Dolphins keep him on the active roster or try to stash him again on the practice squad.
Kovacs is a little undersized for a safety, standing 5’10” and weighing 205 pounds. The rookie out of Michigan played all four years at Michigan and had a total of 334 tackles along with 7 sacks and 26 tackles for loss.
Kovacs has kept up his physical play in camp and will have to beat out Kelcie McCray and Keelan Johnson to secure a roster spot as a top backup to starters Reshad Jones and Jimmy Wilson. Still, besides Egnew, Kovacs may have the easiest path to the 53 man roster of several bubble players.
All of the players will get their final two shots to make the roster live on CBS4 this Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and next week against the New Orleans Saints. The final 53 man roster must be submitted in the days following next Thursday’s final preseason game.