Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dolphins make 10 roster moves in first wave of cuts

Last night, I was preparing an article for Saturday about the 13 roster spots the Miami Dolphins had to clear and the most likely players to be shown the door. Unfortunately for me, the Dolphins didn't waste much time and have already cleared 10 players off the active roster.

The Dolphins entered Saturday with 88 players on the 90-man roster, necessitating 13 spots cleared to get down to 75 for Monday's deadline at 4 p.m. ET. With 10 moves made today, the Dolphins need only clear three more spots between now and then.

The lone "non-release" of today's transactions involves running back Jonas Gray. An undrafted rookie from Notre Dame that came out of college with a torn ACL, Gray never participated in training camp. He moves from the Active/Non-Football Injury list to the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list, clearing a spot from the Dolphins' roster.

The NFI list works the same as the PUP list, meaning Gray can be activated six weeks into the regular season. I suspect the Dolphins won't look for him to contribute in 2012, however, so I'd expect him to stay on NFI all year and potential come back to compete in camp in 2013.

The nine players release by the Dolphins were, in alphabetical order, defensive tackle Chas Alecxih, tight end Les Brown, cornerback Marcus Brown, safety Tyrell Johnson, cornerback Trenton Hughes, linebacker Josh Linam, fullback Jerome Messam, defensive end Jacquies Smith and cornerback Jonathan Wade.

Les Brown is one of the obvious notable names here, as the former accountant that didn't play college football drew attention on Hard Knocks in recent weeks. Unfortunately, almost all that coverage was about his struggles, in particular the blocking department, and he just isn't ready for the NFL game.

Alecxih, Hughes, Linam and Smith are the true undrafted rookies of the bunch. None showed much of anything in camp and barely saw the field during the preseason, so it's no surprise to see them cut. Messam seemed a quality prospect from the CFL, but had knee issues and the move to fullback killed his chances.

Marcus Brown, Johnson and Wade represent the cuts with prior NFL experience. Johnson represents one of the Dolphin's more disappointing free-agent acquisitions, as the former Vikings' starter was signed to compete for a starting job but never came close, while Wade was seen as the favorite for the fifth corner job but was done in by a terrible preseason.

All of the cuts except Johnson and Wade are eligible for the practice squad, although it wouldn't be a surprise to see none of them kept there, either. Most players the team likes for the practice squad are kept all the way until final cuts, so being released a week early doesn't bode well for their chance.

Notable positions not trimmed include wide receiver, the offensive line and linebacker. The Dolphins have nine receivers still under contract and nearly all of them are still in the competition for a backup spot, so it makes sense the team isn't ready to send any packing just yet. Offensive line depth is always valuable in practice and there are still a few nagging injuries at linebacker necessitating more bodies.

As for the three remaining roster moves to make before Monday, some likely candidates for release in my view include offensive tackles Will Barker and Will Yeatman, defensive end Jarrell Root, linebacker Shelly Lyons and cornerback Kevyn Scott. Safety Kelcie McCray, who has been out most of camp with a fractured foot, is a candidate for injured reserve.

(Update (8/26): Undrafted rookie safety Kelcie McCray was indeed placed on injured reserve on Saturday, leaving the Dolphins with 77 players and two more move to make by Monday. I suspect McCray will stay on I.R. all season, since the Dolphins could have exposed him to waivers and given him an injury settlement if they didn't want to hang onto him.)

I'll have coverage of the Dolphins' forthcoming roster moves when they happen, as well as a live chat and observations write-up from Wednesday's preseason finale and the final cut down Friday night.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart here and the updated future free agents list here.

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