DAVIE - Three rookies will serve as starters, and another three will become key backups, playing regularly based on the way the Miami Dolphins are presently assembled heading into the Sept. 9 season-opener against Houston.
Here's a breakdown of the Dolphins' 2012 draft class and where they presently stand.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the team's first-round pick, started his first NFL game against the Panthers and completed 11 of 23 passes for 100 yards. He was sacked three times and had four passes deflected at the line of scrimmage. Tannehill was named the starter for the remainder of the exhibition season, and the season opener.
Jonathan Martin, Miami's second-round pick, allowed two sacks and was penalized for holding and a false start. He presently leads the offensive line in penalties with four. He's still getting adjusted to the right side of the offensive line and the Dolphins are fully invested in the rookie.
Jorvorskie Lane, a 25-year-old who has labored to get to his first NFL camp, is presently serving as the starting fullback. He's also carved out a respectable role on special teams, which hints he's probably going to make the 53-man roster.
Olivier Vernon started his first game at defensive end, replacing an injured Cameron Wake, and contributed one tackle and one pass deflection against the Panthers. Vernon, a former UM standout the Dolphins selected in the third round, is penciled in as the team's pass rushing specialist, coming into the game on obvious passing downs.
Josh Samuda, an undrafted rookie from UMass, spent his third week as the backup center, and performed well enough it appears he's locked down a spot on the 53-man roster. Samuda, a Hollywood Hills product, is presently one of the team's top eight offensive linemen.
Derrick Shelby, an undrafted defensive end from Utah, has worked his way into the two-deep roster. He's presently the backup left defensive end, and will likely stay there considering he's blossoming during the exhibition season. Against the Panthers Shelby contributed four tackles, a sack and forced a fumble.
IN THE SAFE ZONE
Lamar Miller, a former UM standout whom the Dolphins traded up to get in the fourth round, gained 11 yards on three carries and caught three passes, which turned into 27 yards against the Panthers. He's presently fourth on the depth chart, and is competing with Marcus Thigpen, a former CFL standout, to become the team's top kickoff returner.
Kheeston Randall, a seventh-round pick, is presently working as the second-team defensive tackle because of Tony McDaniel's leg injury. Randall leads the rookie pack of defensive linemen, which includes Chas Alecxih, Jarrell Root and Jacquies Smith, in the competition for one of the three or four reserve spots on the 53-man roster.
Tight end Michael Egnew, the second of Miami's two third-round picks, has struggled during training camp. This Missouri product wasn't very developed coming out of college and is learning the finer points of his position, which is normal. But he's struggled in the exhibition season, despite catching three passes for 40 yards in two games. He's had numerous drops, and remains a liability as a blocker. He's presently battling Jeron Mastrud to become the third tight end on the roster, but his draft status should keep him safe.
Josh Kaddu. Miami's fifth-round pick, showed up late to training camp because he was attending classes at Oregon. The time he missed set him back significantly, but the outside linebacker is starting to flash more. He contributed just one tackle against Carolina, but made a few more noticeable plays. Despite his struggles Kaddu has still outperformed undrafted rookie linebackers Cameron Collins and Shelly Lyons. His status on the 53-man roster depends on how many linebackers the Dolphins keep.
Jeff Fuller, an undrafted rookie receiver from Texas A&M, caught four passes for 38 yards. He's fighting for one of the final spots on the 53-man roster, or a practice squad spot.
Chris Hogan, a CFL import, caught three passes for 30 yards against the Panthers. The player affectionately nicknamed 7-11 by his teammates because he's "always open" is a favorite of every quarterback on the team. But that hasn't moved him up the depth chart. While talented, Hogan is limited athletically.
Rishard Matthews, the Dolphins' seventh-round pick, caught four passes for 39 yards and scored a fourth-quarter touchdown against the Panthers. He's realistically battling for a practice squad spot at this point.
B.J. Cunningham, the Dolphins' sixth-round pick, has caught three passes for 15 yards during the exhibition season. Like the rest of the rookie receiver, Cunningham has two weeks and two more games to impress this coaching staff.
Les Brown, a former accountant and college hoops players, is still a little rough around the edges as a football player. This tight end project hasn't caught a pass in the first two exhibition games.
Chandler Burden, an undrafted guard from Kentucky, is working with the third-team offensive line. Andrew McDonald, an undrafted tackle from Indiana, is working with the second team offensive line as a right tackle. One of these two could make it to Miami's practice squad.
Rookie defensive backs Kelcie McCray (who broke his foot early in camp), Kevyn Scott and Trenton Hughes are all long shots to make the practice squad.
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