Dolphins' roster moves provide little immediate help

September 2, 2019

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — There were lots of introductory handshakes Monday among the Miami Dolphins following the recent acquisition of 12 players in a flurry of moves, and after practice, offensive lineman Jesse Davis found himself still trying to connect the newcomers' names with faces.

"I think I'm getting better at that over the years," Davis said. "Hopefully you don't get in the huddle and go, 'Oooh, who's this guy?'"

With the season opener looming Sunday against Baltimore, the Dolphins keep rewriting their roster. They made 53 moves Saturday and Sunday, most notably parting with veterans Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills and Kiko Alonso in trades that netted three high draft picks.

On Monday the Dolphins released long snapper John Denney, who had played in every game for them since 2005, and defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, who made 27 tackles in eight games last year.

The deals leave the rebuilding Dolphins in a favorable salary cap situation and eagerly anticipating the 2020 draft. But they did little to improve the immediate outlook for a team that was already widely expected to be among the NFL's worst, because most of the newly acquired players are unheralded plug-the-gap types.

Fifth-year defensive back Bobby McCain, who is quickly climbing the ranks in locker room seniority, acknowledged that some of the moves left him scratching his head.

"Um, yeah. Yeah," he said. "But I believe in what we're doing. You've got to trust in the coaches and the front office."

Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard, the only elite player left on the team, had a similar reaction to the purging of so many veterans.

"It hurts," he said. "I don't know the exact plan, but I've got to trust the process."

First-year coach Brian Flores acknowledged it's a challenge to get the new players quickly up to speed, and to sort out options in an offensive line that just lost its best player. But Flores said he told his team to focus on what's ahead, and not what just happened.

"We're going to come out, practice, prepare, work and do everything we can to win this game on Sunday against Baltimore," Flores said. "My attention, my effort, my energy — that's where it's going to be."

Only 22 of the Dolphins' 53 players were on the roster last season. Miami is likely to enter the season with the NFL's youngest team, thanks to 27 players under the age of 25.

"We're down to three 30-year-olds," said center Daniel Kilgore, 31. "We're a dying breed."

With Denney's departure, the oldest player is 36-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick, who beat out Josh Rosen for the quarterback job in a battle of Miami newcomers. The Dolphins will also likely have new players starting at three offensive line spots and three spots in the defensive front seven.

Among the holdovers: defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, who lost his best friend on the team when Taylor was cut.

"It's the nature of the beast," Godchaux said. "You're here today. You're gone tomorrow."