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Today's Top 5: Breaking Down The Roster Moves

Posted Sep 2, 2017

1. Reaching the limit: The Dolphins got down to the 53-player roster limit Saturday by waiving 28 players, waiving/injured two, releasing two, placing two on injured reserve and placing one on the reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list. Remember that this is only the initial 53-man roster and that more moves will be coming, possibly as early as Sunday when the Dolphins also will be putting together their practice squad. It would not be a surprise if one of those moves involved putting guard Ted Larsen on the IR-designated to return list, which would allow him to return this season. Larsen had to be on the initial 53-man roster to be eligible for the IR-return list.

2. Beating the odds: There’s usually one or two, sometimes three, rookie free agents who find their way onto the 53-man roster, but the Dolphins’ strong UDFA class produced five this year. Making the roster after going undrafted this spring were tackle Eric Smith, linebacker Chase Allen, cornerback Torry McTyer, safety Maurice Smith and punter Matt Haack. They joined draft picks Charles Harris, Cordrea Tankersley, Davon Godchaux, Isaac Asiata and Vincent Taylor to give the Dolphins 10 rookies on their initial 53-man roster. Second-round pick Raekwon McMillan was among the two players placed on IR, along with cornerback Tony Lippett. With seventh-round pick Isaiah Ford on injured reserve, it means all seven Dolphins draft picks remain with the team after the initial roster cuts.

3. Sticking around: Haack was able to unseat Matt Darr, who turned in two solid seasons for the Dolphins, but first-year player Winston Chapman had no such luck trying to beat out veteran long-snapper John Denney. Then again, this was no easy task considering Denney is the longest-tenured player on the roster. Denney, who made the Dolphins roster as a rookie free agent in 2005, will be heading into his 13th NFL season.

4. Notable cuts: Along with Darr, other players with Dolphins experience released Saturday were linebacker Neville Hewitt, tackle Sam Young and defensive back Jordan Lucas. The release of Young has to be considered somewhat of a surprise because he was the one backup tackle on the roster with NFL experience. The move speaks volume about what the Dolphins think of the potential of undrafted rookie Eric Smith. Hewitt, who appeared in every game the past two seasons after making the team as a rookie free agent, was sidelined most of training camp because of a shoulder injury. Lucas saw action on special teams as a rookie sixth-round pick in 2016.

5. McDonald move: Safety T.J. McDonald obviously made a major impression on the Dolphins during his first training camp and preseason with the team because the organization decided to sign him to a four-year contract extension before he appears in a regular season game for Miami. McDonald will be serving an eight-game league suspension at the start of the season and is eligible to return in time for the Week 9 game against the Oakland Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium.