MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As is generally the case heading into the final week of the NFL preseason, there are plenty of roster questions remaining to be answered.
Players competing for roles on the second and third teams will have one last chance to impress the coaching staff and earn more playing time. Who will step up and who will fall flat?
Which bubble players will wear the aqua and orange of the Miami Dolphins in 2018 and which will be searching for new jobs next week?
Each and every NFL team has until 4 p.m. on Saturday to trim their respective rosters down from 90 players to 53.
That means nearly 1200 professional football players will be looking for new employment opportunities by the end of this weekend.
A fraction of those guys will get picked up by other teams and join practice squads, but for the most part it’ll be the annual trimming-of-the-fat that nobody seems to enjoy other than the producers of Hard Knocks.
Keeping that in mind, here are some of the key position battles and bubble players to watch heading into Thursday’s preseason finale between the Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons.
The battle between free agent addition Brock Osweiler and incumbent backup/emergency QB David Fales has been a close one since the open of training camp.
While Fales has been with the Dolphins longer, Osweiler has history with head coach Adam Gase.
He also has a bit more experience in the league and has been through this kind of situation before.
“It’s not really up to me to make that decision of where I sit on the depth chart,” Osweiler said. “It’s just up to me to each day compete on the practice field, to work hard in the meeting rooms and really just be the best quarterback and teammate I can be.”
A strong performance by one and/or a weak showing by the other against Atlanta could very well be the deciding factor.
Of course, there is also the possibility of the Dolphins keeping three quarterbacks on the roster, in which case both would likely stick around.
Even if that happens, one of them will go into Week 1 taking reps with the second team and the other would be working with the scout team.
There is no issue at safety for Miami as they’re set with Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald as starters and first round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick and versatile Walt Aikens as backups.
Cornerback is a little murky beyond starters Xavien Howard and Bobby McCain. It’s no secret that Miami’s coaching staff has been concerned with the cornerback position.
It’s very possible that the Dolphins look to add someone next week once the dust settles following this weekend’s roster cuts.
Locks: Reshad Jones, T.J. McDonald, Xavien Howard, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Bobby McCain
Probables: Walt Aikens, Torry McTyer, Cordrea Tankersley
On The Bubble: Tony Lippett, Cornell Armstrong, Trae Elston, Jordan Lucas
One constant throughout training camp and the preseason has been the revolving door of attempts for rookie kickers Jason Sanders and Greg Joseph.
They have alternated kicks during practices and preseason games but neither has taken advantage of their opportunity and run away with the competition.
Miami selected Sanders in the seventh round of this year’s draft while Joseph was signed as an undrafted rookie.
Both have struggled with accuracy at times but Sanders has seemingly pulled ahead of Joseph over the post couple weeks.
There are five receivers on Miami’s current roster that will absolutely make the team; Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson, Danny Amendola and Jakeem Grant.
If the Dolphins decide to keep six wideouts, and that’s a big if, there are several players vying for that final spot.
Francis Owusu, Isaiah Ford, Leonte Carroo, Malcom Lewis and Rashawn Scott have all had their moments during camp. Consider Lewis and Scott the longshots of the longshots.
“This last game, once we hit that second half, we didn’t have a whole bunch of guys on offense, especially, play real well,” Gase said earlier this week when asked about the receivers. “Right now, if we’re going to be doing anything with guys competing for whatever spot it would be … Everything is wide open right now.”