The Dolphins were forced to make a difficult decision today, ending Nate Garner's season by placing him on injured reserve. Arguably the most versatile player on the entire team, Garner can play just about every position along the offensive line, but because he was out until sometime midseason with a broken foot, the Dolphins didn't think it was worth it to waste a roster space for nearly half of the season by keeping Garner on the 53.
A big blow, of course, but if Vernon Carey and Jake Long can stay healthy, the Dolphins could avoid the possible ramifications of Garner's loss. This comes a day after Miami waived Joey Haynos, who many expected to be the team's third tight end. The Dolphins will now have to choose between keeping John Nalbone or only two tight ends, which would likely free up a roster spot for a defensive player or even, dare I say it, four quarterbacks.
Projected Possible Cuts: Pat White
Okay, so I don't actually see Pat White making the team. But despite all of the negative reports about his play, and despite the fact that he's done nothing to prove that he's capable of playing quarterback in the NFL, I just can't commit to guarantee his release. Should he be cut? Absolutely. But for some reason, I just have a strange feeling about the whole situation, like the Dolphins aren't willing to give up on a second-round pick after one season. Common logic tells me otherwise, though, so I'm sticking to my guns on this one.
Out: Pat White
Projected Possible Cuts: Lex Hilliard
Before Garner went on the IR, you could have possibly made a case for the Dolphins to forgo keeping four running backs, and instead use the roster space for a tenth offensive lineman. There's really no chance of that happening anymore, though, so Hilliard is becoming a borderline lock.
In: Lex Hilliard
Projected Possible Cuts: Rolly Lumbala
Lousaka Polite may be a little more vulnerable after turning in a poor performance as a lead blocker against the Falcons, but not enough to warrant him not making the team after a Pro Bowl caliber 2009 season.
Out: Rolly Lumbala
Projected Possible Cuts: John Nalbone
Many fans and media members are starting to jump on the "keep two tight ends bandwagon" with Haynos gone, but I'm not quite ready to go that far. I have a feeling the Dolphins will stick to tradition and keep 25 offensive players. And now that it looks like ten offensive lineman is out of the question, it would likely take four quarterbacks or six receivers to get rid of Nalbone. With the Dolphins using so many two tight end sets, I just think it's a little too risky to only keep two on the roster.
In: John Nalbone
Projected Possible Cuts: Marlon Moore, Patrick Turner, Roberto Wallace, Julius Pruitt
Although Marlon Moore really didn't do anything to guarantee his roster spot against the Falcons, the fact that he was playing ahead of Patrick Turner as the Dolphins' fourth receiver tells me he's not going anywhere. Turner, meanwhile, has had a mildy impressive training camp and preseason, but because he's not a special-teams contributor, Roberto Wallace could come in and steal the final receiver opening with one more solid performance on Thursday night.
In: Marlon Moore, Patrick Turner
Out: Roberto Wallace, Julius Pruitt
Projected Possible Cuts: Lydon Murtha, Andrew Gardner
This is where Garner will truly be missed. I personally wouldn't trust either Murtha or Gardner if Carey or Long were to go down. But the Dolphins have to keep at least one of them, and all indications still point to Murtha being the lucky man.
In: Lydon Murtha
Out: Andrew Gardner
Projected Possible Cuts: Cory Procter, Ray Feinga
We probably would have to go all the way back to beginning of training camp to find the last time we seriously thought Cory Procter was going to make the team. That's likely about to become a reality, though, with only three tackles expected to make the cut. That, of course, is assuming the Dolphins don't hand Garner's roster spot to a roster fringe defensive player.
In: Cory Procter
Out: Ray Feinga
Projected Possible Cuts: Andrew Hartline
The only debate at center is who is going to start: Grove or Berger. Hartline has no chance of making the team.
Out: Andrew Hartline
Projected Possible Cuts: Lionel Dotson, Ryan Baker
Lionel Dotson has been invisible ever since his strong performance against Tampa Bay, and Ryan Baker's only real hope is to make the practice squad as a defensive end/nose tackle hybrid.
Out: Lionel Dotson, Ryan Baker
Projected Possible Cuts: Montavious Stanley, Ryan Baker
Stanley hasn't caught my eye once this preseason, and see above for Baker.
Out: Montavious Stanley, Ryan Baker
Projected Possible Cuts: Quentin Moses, Erik Walden, Chris McCoy
Walden could very easily sneak on the 53 if the Dolphins choose to keep 26 defensive players as a result of Garner going on the IR or if the Dolphins decide to only keep 5 cornerbacks. He gets the slight edge over Moses, simply because we don't know when Quentin is going to be 100%. McCoy on the other hand, has disappointed in the role of possible late round sleeper.
Out: Quentin Moses, Erik Walden, Chris McCoy
Projected Possible Cuts: Micah Johnson, Austin Spitler, J.D. Folsom
Micah Johnson has clearly been the most impressive roster bubble linebacker on the team, and if he turns in another good game in Dallas Thursday night, he's definitely going to make the team. That would pretty much put an end to Spitler's and Folsom's roster chances, unless Channing Crowder's injury is season threatening.
In: Micah Johnson
Out: Austin Spitler, J.D. Folsom
Projected Possible Cuts: Benny Sapp, Jason Allen, Nate Ness, Kevin Hobbs, Ross Weaver
Unless Will Allen's knee is worse than we think, and he's on the verge of suffering the same fate as Nate Garner, things are lining up for the Dolphins to keep six corners. And based on Benny Sapp's and Jason Allen's stellar special-teams play, they should be the two corners who squeeze on the 53. Nate Ness is really their only competition, but inconsistent players rarely find a home in this league.
In: Benny Sapp, Jason Allen
Out: Nate Ness, Kevin Hobbs, Ross Weaver
Projected Possible Cuts: Jonathon Amaya
Speaking of stellar special-teams play, Reshad Jones has made a name for himself on the coverage units and has locked up his roster spot in the process. That means Jonathon Amaya is on the outside looking in, despite flashing some potential from time to time.
Out: Jonathon Amaya