The Miami Dolphins will take the field in Atlanta for their first taste of 2014 preseason action in less than a week. While the outcomes of the four exhibition games are meaningless, they will act as a stage for several key position battles to unfold. As new players make a name for themselves and solidify their spot on the roster, others will see their time as a Dolphin come to an end.
Here’s a look at four players that were on Miami’s 2013 roster that will struggle to make the team again, finding themselves in danger of being released.
RB Daniel Thomas
Entering his fourth season in the league, Thomas’ career thus far has been underwhelming to say the least. The former second round pick has been able to stick around in Miami as the back-up running back, however that can change with the increase in competition. The Dolphins signed Knowshon Moreno to improve the offense’s pass blocking behind starter Lamar Miller, leaving Thomas to fight for the third string role with Mike Gillislee and Damien Williams. Gillislee has outplayed Thomas in camp and has seen more action, while Williams has arguably been the second most impressive running back in camp, after Miller. It doesn’t help Thomas’ case that the man that traded up for him, Jeff Ireland, is no longer a part of the front office.
KR Marcus Thigpen
Thigpen had a disappointing 2013 season as the Dolphins kickoff and punt returner, leaving the team to hold auditions for the position throughout training camp and into the preseason. His 22.5 yards per kickoff return and 7.8 yards per punt return last season dropped significantly from his 2012 numbers of 27.4 yards on kickoffs and 12.2 on punts. The Dolphins have primarily used rookie wide receiver Jarvis Landry in Thigpen’s role as well as receivers Damian Williams and Rantavious Wooten. Landry has good hands and could excel in the role, however if he continues his impressive play, the team may not want to risk him getting injured by using him as a returner. Unless Thigpen has a nightmare of a preseason that results in him getting cut, the Dolphins will be counting on him to regain his 2012 form.
Prediction: Makes roster
TE Michael Egnew
After failing to make an impact in each of his first two seasons, Egnew’s high draft pick status will no longer be enough to secure his spot on the roster. Tight end is one of the most clustered battles in Dolphins camp, meaning Egnew will have to separate himself from the pack. Behind Charles Clay, Egnew, Dion Sims, Kyle Miller, Arthur Lynch and Harold “Gator” Hoskins are competing for the second, third and possibly fourth string roles. Sims is establishing himself as a viable red zone target and he should be penciled in as the second tight end on the depth chart. Lynch is unlikely to be cut after the Dolphins used a pick on him in May’s draft, while un-drafted free agent Gator Hoskins has impressed. That leaves Egnew and Miller with a lot to prove once preseason games get underway.
QB Pat Devlin
Keeping Devlin on the roster, or any third quarterback, does not benefit the Dolphins. Devlin has been Miami’s third string quarterback for the past three seasons and hasn’t shown any qualities worth developing. The notion that Devlin is an insurance policy is also misguided. If Ryan Tannehill goes down with injury, the season is lost. If both Tannehill and Matt Moore go down, the Dolphins can sign any available quarterback to ensure they get the first overall pick. Instead of wasting a roster spot on Devlin, Miami could use it on some depth at wide receiver or tight end where some difficult cuts are inevitable.