Cut-down day looming
On Saturday, NFL teams will trim their rosters down to 53 players. Typically, this means executing the toughest part of the job for General Managers and Head Coaches on 37 occasions to go from 90 down to the 53-man opening day mandate.
Now, with the roster already at 80 players, and an expanded practice squad of 16 players permitted this season, roster construction is more unique than ever.
Tuesday, Brian Flores was asked about cut-down day and his impression of the roster as it stands.
"We've got a lot of competition on this team at various positions," Flores said. "There's probably – let's call it 60 players that we feel good about, and probably a little bit more than that when you start talking about practice squad spots as well. We're going to have to release some of those guys and hope that we get them back on the practice squad. But yeah, I've got a pretty good idea of who the 69 players are."
Pressure busts pipes
With 35 first- or second-year players on the roster, Flores is well-aware of the unknown nature of this Miami football team. Though the Dolphins have been on the field for double-digit padded practices since mid-August – including Saturday's scrimmage – Flores acknowledges the revealing test of a regular season game.
"The big thing with the rookies on our team and really across the league is you never really know about a player until there's live action," Flores said. "Some guys get tight when there's live action. Some guys play better when there's live action. When you get put into that situation, pressure busts pipes is a phrase that's been used for a long time."
Jesse Davis, much to his own surprise, is the old head in the offensive line room these days. Davis talked about his leadership role and how the rookies that he and the other veterans are mentoring have been progressing.
"They've been receptive to everything and just kind of bringing them along with what we see out there, what we're calling and just helping them get where they need to be," Davis said. "A lot of the vets on this team have come together and helped these rookies along and tried to build the chemistry, but we can kind of feel it in the locker room as well. The camaraderie has been very high."
New Dolphins running back Matt Breida is familiar with a team full of young players. He, for the second time, compared the mood and atmosphere of the Dolphins locker room to the 49ers in 2017 when he first arrived on the NFL scene.
"This locker room kind of reminds me a little bit of San Francisco when I first got there," Breida said. "We've got a lot of young guys, guys don't have big egos on the team. I think a lot of guys feel like they've got a lot to prove in the league, and that's only going to help our chemistry as the season goes on. We're just going to build on that. We've got a lot of guys who love to compete.
Doing whatever they ask
Breida is no stranger to earning his way onto a roster by impressing in camp as a rookie. The former undrafted free agent earned his way into a prominent role on a team that would eventually play in a Super Bowl and, individually speaking, Breida would average an even five-yards per carry through three seasons with that club.
Breida talked about his role on the Dolphins and his willingness to accept whatever is asked of him.
"I'm a football player, so whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do," Breida said. "That's how I look at it. I play running back. I can do it all; but at the end of the day, I'm one of those guys that's not selfish. Whatever the team asks me to do, I'm going to do."
Jason Sanders has been drilling kicks all camp long, including field goals from 57, 48 and 41 yards during Saturday's scrimmage (missing only a 61-yarder). Sanders in an emergency situation, says he could handle both the kicking and punting duties on game day.
"I would say I'd be a good emergency punter," Sanders said. "I'm not going to be an NFL punter in the league; but an emergency punter, I'll be there."
Offense scouting the defense
Who better to ask about the camp progress of Dolphins players than the guys that face them every day in practice? For Jesse Davis, that includes the Miami pass rushers like new defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.
Davis detailed Ogbah's greatest strengths and the challenges he poses to the offensive line on Tuesday.
"It's kind of hard to get a punch on him in pass pro," Davis said. "We've had our bouts there in practice, and he's a good defensive end. I'm glad he's on our team. But yeah, he's a very strong, long-armed, heavy-hand guy."
Breida had a run-in with Jerome Baker – who was in coverage on the back – during Saturday's scrimmage. The bout came with some friendly trash talking – all from a place of respect – and Breida detailed Baker and the linebacker corps' strengths on Tuesday.
"They're all very fast, very physical and they all can cover and run and hit," Breida said. "It's a very unique situation – we have a lot of guys on the team that can do all of that. It's just fun competing against those guys because they're making me better every day. Iron sharpens iron. It's just great having those guys out there to be able to compete and talk a little bit of trash to."
Latest on the Fins
The Miami Dolphins today announced they have waived safety Jeremiah Dinson, defensive end Avery Moss and cornerback Deatrick Nichols. The team also released wide receiver Ricardo Louis.