The Miami Dolphins roster is a fluid situation, and will likely remain that way for weeks, if not months.It has become clear the Dolphins will churn the bottom of the roster all season searching for the right pieces.That process began on Saturday when the team claimed four players, including former practice squad receiver Anthony Armstrong, whose ability to produce big plays should help this limited receiving corp.Here's a look at Miami's 53-man roster heading into the Sept. 9 regular season opener against the Houston Texans.OffenseQuarterback - Ryan Tannehill (R), Matt Moore, David Garrard, Pat DevlinThere is a slim chance the Dolphins keep four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, so that means someone is being traded (Moore), demoted (Devlin), released or placed on injured reserve (Garrard). My vote is that Garrard will be placed on injured reserve considering the NFL's new rules would allow him to return to the active roster later this season.Tailback - Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller (R), Marcus Thigpen (R)This is Miami's deepest unit, and all four backs bring something different to the table. Bush should excel in a zone blocking scheme. Thomas is a big physical back who appears to be running with power now, his second season in the NFL. Miller is a stretch the field type option who must get used to a zone blocking scheme, and Thigpen is a pour man's Dave Meggett. he'll likely serve as the backup slot receiver and kickoff returner.Fullback - Jorvorskie Lane (R)Lane was one of the most pleasant surprises of training camp. He's a solid lead blocks with decent hands, and the ability to gain short yardage on tough, physical runs.Receivers - Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Legedu Naanee, Anthony Armstrong, Marlon Moore, Rishard Matthews (R)Getting Hartline back from his calf injury, and the addition of Armstrong should help this unit. But they are still one of the weakest receiving corps in the NFL. Someone will need to elevate their game drastically to keep this offense from dwelling at the bottom third of the NFL. Its likely that Miami will continue to upgrade this unit throughout the season. Matthews could easily be snuck onto the practice squad.Tight end - Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay, Michael Egnew (R), Jeron MastrudFasano and Clay are the two workhorses, but there is little quality behind the pair right now. Egnew, Miami's third-round pick, is raw and needs time to learn how to become an NFL tight end. Mastrud is a versatile player, but someone who is limited. It's possible he could be churned if the Dolphins find something they like better on the waiver wire.Offensive tackles - Jake Long, Jonathan Martin (R), Will YeatmanKeeping Yeatman was a bold move considering the former tight end is rough around the edges, but the talent is there. He needs time to develop, and that could be done on the practice squad. Long, a four-time Pro Bowler, will need to recover from his MCL sprain to make this offensive line respectable. Martin, a second-round pick, is still working on his transition to the left side.Offensive guard - Richie Incognito, Artis Hicks, John Jerry, Nate GarnerHicks is recovering from a neck injury he suffered two weeks ago and should be a solid stopgap, but there's concern about what's behind the two starters. Garner can play every position on the offensive line, but is he a good fit for this zone blocking scheme? And Jerry, who came to camp 360 pounds, has made drastic improvements the past three weeks. But the fundamental issue is that he's proven he can't be trusted.Centers - Mike Pouncey, Josh Samuda (R)Pouncey should blossom in his second season as an NFL starter, especially since he's in a scheme that fits him better. Samuda, a former Hollywood Hills standout, was one of camp's more pleasant surprises. He's naturally a guard and his low center of gravity allows him to anchor well. Its possible more could be put on his plate in time.Defense Defensive end - Cameron Wake, Jared Odrick, Olivier Vernon (R), Derrick Shelby (R)Wake is a proven pass rusher, but everyone else needs to step up their level of contribution because Miami didn't create enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks in the preseason. Odrick contributed six sacks last season, but hasnt shown the quick twitch ability it takes to consistently threaten an offensive tackle. Vernon and Shelby are rookies who ran very hot and cold, but its wide to invest playing time into the pair because they have upside.Defensive tackles - Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Tony McDaniel, Kheeston Randall (R)Soliai and Starks need to be dominant for this 4-3 scheme to work and that hasn't been the case. There are gap control issues with this defense. McDaniel is recovering from a knee injury he suffered in the exhibition opener. He's a solid backup. Randall flashed talent late in the preseason, but his seventh-round draft status got him on Miami's 53-man roster. Production will keep him there.Outside linebackers - Kevin Burnett, Koa Misi, Jason Trusnik, Sammy Brown (R)Burnett is the only player in this unit who can be trusted, and that's when he's healthy. Unfortunately for Miami he isn't healthy at this moment because of a back injury that he's been nursing for a month. Misi, a 2010 second-round pick, could blossom in the 4-3 scheme, but hasn't so far. The Dolphins made Brown a priority as a waiver wire claim, but that has more to do with the rookie's upside than contributions this preseason, which was one tackle.Inside linebackers - Karlos Dansby, Austin SpitlerThis group remains one of Miami's thinnest units, especially if Dansby doesn't make a full recovery from the right knee issue that forced him to sit out three preseason games. If Dansby is sidelined it is likely Burnett replaces him instead of Spitler, who is a solid special teams contributor, but limited linebacker. The Dolphins will likely continue searching for the right backup.Cornerbacks - Sean Smith, Richard Marshall, Nolan Carroll, RJ StanfordTrading Vontae Davis to Indianapolis thinned out this unit, and will put pressure on everyone to step their game up. Smith has been solid during camp, but he always has a problem turning his talent on during games. Marshall will man the nickel spot, which means Carroll comes onto the field during nickel and dime packages, which happen often in today's pass-happy NFL. While Carroll has a strong camp and exhibition season he was exposed last year as a limped player, one who struggled in man coverage. The Dolphins claimed Stanford because of his upside, but he'll likely need time to learn the scheme. The Dolphins need to add one more cornerback, even if its someone on the practice squad.Safeties - Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Jimmy Wilson, Troy NolanJones and Clemons have 30 starts between them, and it is time for these two former fifth-round picks to poop or get off the pot. Jones was rarely challenged in the exhibition season, but that won't be the case come week one. His tendancy to gamble is concerning, but that wasn't an issue during the preseason. Clemons, the vocal leader of the secondary, needs to tackle better, and make more impact plays. Wilson didn't step up in his opportunities, but his versatility, and ability to play cornerback in a pinch, should keep him safe. Nolan, who was claimed off the waiver wire, contributed plenty for a solid defense in Houston.Special teamsKicker - Dan CarpenterPunter - Brandon FieldsLong snapper - John DenneyReturners - Lamar Miller, Rishard Matthews, Marcus Thigpen, Reggie BushPractice squad options: Receivers Jeff Fuller and Chris Hogan, offensive linemen Andrew McDonald and Chandler Burden, and safety Anderson Russell could all be re-signed to the practice squad now that they've cleared waivers. Linebackers Josh Kaddu and Jonathan Freeny, who were each released on Saturday to make room for the newcomers, must clear waivers before becoming practice squad options.
Omar KellySun Sentinel
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