DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) — One of the biggest areas in need of improvement is the Miami Dolphins offensive line.
After a positive preseason in which the line gave up just four sacks, the lowest preseason total since 2004, the team got another boost on Saturday.
Center Mike Pouncey has convinced the Miami Dolphins that he will be ready to play sooner than later.
Pouncey will open the season on Miami’s 53-man roster and not on the physically unable to perform list, the Dolphins announced on Saturday — cut-down day around the NFL.
The Pouncey decision was one of the biggest the Dolphins had to make in paring down the squad to 53 players. Miami made 22 moves Saturday, one of the more notable ones being the waiving of Daniel Thomas, who had four of the team’s six rushing touchdowns from running backs last season.
For those who made the team, headshot photos and a team meeting await on Sunday. Some of those waived on Saturday could be back on Miami’s practice squad.
“I thought it’s been the best training camp and preseason that I’ve been a part of,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said after Miami’s exhibition finale. “Not just the record. I like the way we’ve won the games.”
Pouncey, a Pro Bowl selection last season, has been working his way back from hip surgery. He was seen at practice last week working out off to the side, and has not yet been involved in any full-fledged workouts.
It’s unclear when he will be able to fully return. But if Pouncey was placed on the PUP list, he would have been ineligible for Miami’s first six games. By putting him on the 53-man roster now, the Dolphins can use him earlier if he’s cleared and deemed ready to play again.
Thomas had a touchdown in Miami’s preseason finale, and hoped he had shown enough to stick around.
“I gave everything I had,” Thomas said.
He found out Saturday, it still wasn’t enough. The Dolphins wound up keeping five undrafted free agents, including running backs Orleans Darkwa and Damien Williams.
Quarterback Seth Lobato was waived, leaving the team with only Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore for now at that position.
Others who were waived Saturday: defensive linemen Isaako Aaitui, Tevin Mims, D’Aundre Reed and Garrison Smith; offensive linemen David Arkin, Sam Brenner and Evan Finkenburg; wide receivers Kevin Cone, Matt Hazel and Marcus Thigpen; safety Jordan Kovacs; tight ends Kyle Miller and Evan Wilson; linebacker Andrew Wilson and kicker Jake Rogers.
Defensive tackle Kamal Johnson was placed on injured reserve, and guard Tony Hills’ contract was terminated.
Safety Reshad Jones and defensive end Dion Jordan will miss the first four games serving NFL suspensions. Neither will count against the initial 53-man roster.
“I understand the situation I’m in, and I’ve got to deal with the consequences,” Jordan said after the preseason finale.
The Dolphins will have five new offensive line starters for their Sept. 7 opener against New England. Pouncey has appeared in 46 of 48 games since joining the Dolphins in 2011 and, according to STATS, he was one of three Miami offensive linemen to be on the field for at least 900 snaps last season.
All but one of Miami’s 2014 draft picks made the team, though fifth-rounder Arthur Lynch was placed on injured reserve late in the preseason. Hazel was the only draftee from this year waived, and defensive lineman Terrence Fede — the first draft pick ever from tiny Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York — made the club.
Fede was a seventh-round pick this year.
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