Questions, decisions remain for Dolphins after round of cuts
Aug 26, 2014 at 4:03p ET
With their roster now down to 75 players after Tuesday's league-mandated cuts, the Miami Dolphins must prepare for their final preseason game against the St. Louis Rams at Sun Life Stadium on Thursday with an eye toward evaluating several key reserves who are on the bubble and fighting for a final roster spot.
Though the loss of defensive end Dion Jordan and safety Reshad Jones for four regular season games each for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances will certainly sting, the Dolphins will be able to use those two spots on the roster on other players for the time being. The continued rehab for players on the mend such as center Mike Pouncey, running back Knowshon Moreno and kicker Caleb Sturgis could also affect available roster spots.
Regardless, the team will still have to make some tough cuts to trim the roster to 53 by Saturday's 4 p.m. deadline. So what's next for a team desperate to make a leap in the standings this year and how did they fare with Tuesday's first round of cuts? Let's dig in.
MOST SURPRISING CUT
The fact that the Dolphins already gave the quick hook to talented wide receiver Armon Binns on Tuesday is a testament to how stacked they are at his position. The team could carry anywhere between four to six receivers this year with starters Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson taking up the most touches along with Rishard Matthews and the dynamic rookie Jarvis Landry.
Even with so much depth, the team could still not carve out a spot for Binns and likely did him a favor by releasing him quickly and giving him a better chance to find with another team.
PLAYER ON THE HOT SEAT
Running back Daniel Thomas survived this first cut but may not stick around for much longer. Thomas has upside and he will get his shot Thursday in their final preseason game to impress the coaching staff, but with Knowshon Moreno's quick return to health he may soon prove to be expendable.
The Dolphins running game has had a poor showing in the preseason but improved tremendously in their home win over the Dallas Cowboys. Thomas could still make a strong case for himself now that the Dolphins have placed Mike Gillislee on the injured reserve list. Undrafted rookie Orleans Darkwa had his moments late in the Cowboys game but is considered a longshot to make the final roster and the Dolphins must also decide one way or another if Damien Williams has a future with this team.
PLAYER ON THE RISE
Sturgis has had a rough preseason with the kicker battling a groin injury that has prevented him from playing in any of their exhibition games. He came up limping during pre-game warmups before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game and has forced the team to try out three different kickers in his place.
The good news for the Dolphins is that he was finally back on the field for Tuesday's practice for some light kicking activities. He was noncommittal about his participation for Thursday's game and refused to answer any questions about his injury, but a positive step forward for Sturgis means one less roster spot the Dolphins need to expend on another kicker for insurance. The last thing the team wants is another situation where they run out of healthy kickers like they did against the Cowboys, when they were forced to run two-point conversion plays late in the game after John Potter also got injured.
TOUGHEST CALL REMAINING
What to do with center Mike Pouncey? The starter has openly spoken with media earlier in camp that he is "praying" he's not sent to the PUP list to start the season, which would mean he'd be out for six weeks. For a position of great need given their struggles with snapping the ball, the Dolphins can ill-afford to take this decision lightly and while the temptation may be to keep him on the active roster to be able to plug him in directly once he's healthy, the reality is that his roster spot could be used for the time being on a player who can help them immediately.
Pouncey continues to mostly work out separately than the rest of the team during practice while he rehabs from offseason hip surgery. The center has been unable to participate in any practices or preseason games since he was placed on the PUP list to start training camp. Reserve Samson Satele has filled in well after being brought in late to camp and he has been a steady force in the middle in addition to being a solid snapper.
Another strong performance by Satele against the St. Louis Rams could make their decision easier, but then again Pouncey still remains a significant upgrade over any other options the Dolphins presently have on their roster.