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DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) — For many players on NFL training camp rosters, late-August can be an extremely stressful time.
The preseason is ending and roster cuts are looming.
Miami Dolphins quarterback David Fales has been on the bubble for his entire five-year NFL career, so he almost sounds convincing when he says Thursday’s exhibition finale at Atlanta is just another game.
Waived four times and released from a practice squad twice, Fales will likely be awarded the No. 2 job for the first time if he plays well against the Falcons.
If he plays poorly, he might be cut.
In his latest battle to stay in the league, Fales is competing with Brock Osweiler for Miami’s backup job.
“You can’t put too much weight on one game,” Fales said. “I’m going to approach it the same way I have every preseason game and every game. You can’t put too much pressure on yourself. Otherwise you’re going to be forcing stuff and trying to do crazy stuff, and it’s not going to help you.”
It’s the oddest thing about these preseason finales the week before the season — they’re poorly attended and mostly meaningless, but for players fighting to make the roster, the pressure’s perhaps greater than in a playoff game.
So Dolphins coach Adam Gase will see how Fales and Osweiler fare under pressure. Gase seeks a successor to the departed Matt Moore, Miami’s backup quarterback since 2011.
Osweiler and Fales haven’t looked like keepers much since training camp began, but Gase said he’s comfortable with his options at backup quarterback — an important role given doubts regarding the durability of starter Ryan Tannehill, who’s coming off knee surgery and missed the entire 2017 season.
Miami might decide to keep both Osweiler and Fales, but the fourth quarterback on the roster, Bryce Petty, is a long shot to make the team. There has also been speculation the unimpressive camps by Fales and Osweiler might prompt the Dolphins to go quarterback shopping before the season.
Gase said he’s certain his No. 2 QB will be either Fales or Osweiler. The reason for his comfort level?
“I’ve called games for both of them,” Gase said.
Fales won praise from Gase after his first career start in last year’s season finale. He threw for 265 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Buffalo.
Osweiler, a seventh-year veteran, was a backup with the Denver Broncos and played in 13 games when Gase was an assistant coach there.
The two contenders for the No. 2 job did little to help their cause in Saturday’s exhibition game against Baltimore. When Miami was outscored 24-0 in the second half, each threw an interception and finished with a passer rating under 36.0.
Gase blamed poor protection by second- and third-team linemen.
“I think Brock’s temper is better than it used to be,” Gase said with a slight smile. “He took a couple shots there. It’s not on him.”
For the entire preseason, Osweiler is 25 for 41 for 174 yards with one interception and six sacks. Fales is 14 for 27 for 184 yards with two interceptions and one sack. Neither has thrown a touchdown pass.
Like Fales, Osweiler tries to characterize the exhibition finale not as a winner-take-all battle for No. 2, but just another day in the ongoing competition to stay in the NFL.
“It doesn’t really matter what spot you’re labeled in,” Osweiler said. “You need to come to practice every single day and get better. Otherwise someone will take your job.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)