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So much to talk about now that the roster has been paired to the 53-man limit, though more movement will undoubtedly occur over the next few days.
• Let’s start with rookie tight end Dion Sims. There was no doubt he would make the team; it’s the sudden impact he’s making that’s the real surprise.
The season-ending injury to Dustin Keller gave Sims the opening he needed and the response has been a player who has clearly stepped up his game. We knew Sims could block; we didn’t know he could catch this well. I’m not sure whether he will start Sunday in Cleveland, but he will play and should play a lot.
The bottom line on Sims is that he has progressed far quicker than anyone had anticipated and that could be the silver lining over the loss of Keller. Have the Dolphins finally found the long-term answer at tight end? Too early to tell, but it’s not too early to admire his body of work and suggest that the situation at tight end isn’t nearly as troubling because of it.
• As of Sunday morning, there were 22 first and second-year players on the 53-man roster. Granted, this is a very fluid situation and who knows how many moves the Dolphins will make over the next few days. But when roughly 40 percent of your roster is this young, what does it say?
To me, it says that the losing seasons has exhausted the patience of the decision-makers and that this new-look team is built around the type of players Joe Philbin wants in his system. Everywhere I look, for instance, there is a greater emphasis on speed.
• Only four wide receivers on the original 53? That’s surprising. Mostly because I thought that Marvin McNutt had earned a spot on this roster next to Rishard Matthews. It is a gamble keeping only four active when you consider how many three and four receiver sets the Dolphins utilize, though there should be at least one receiver on the practice squad. Bottom line here: It’s important that Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline stay healthy.
• I have been privately rooting for free agent safety Jordan Kovacs since he was signed by the Dolphins. Walk-on at Michigan, literally begged for a chance with the Wolverines, and wound up team captain and leading tackler by his senior season. A story of guts and perseverance. Though he was released in the final cut down to 53, Kovacs expects to be named to the practice squad once it is officially announced.
“Practice squad isn’t a bad place to start,” Kovacs said. “At least I’m on the team. At least I can continue to prove myself in practice. There is still no doubt in my mind that I can play in this league. I’m going to continue to be relentless in pursuit of my dreams.”
A very impressive young man.
• After plenty of speculation, the Dolphins chose to keep a third quarterback in Pat Devlin and this makes perfect sense. Check around the league. Look at all the injured quarterbacks. To have three quality quarterbacks who know the system and who have been a part of that system since Philbin arrived is a valuable commodity.
Weird things happen in this league and you need to be prepared for everything. Devlin demonstrated enough times during the preseason that he can be proficient in this offense. If he were waived, I strongly believe he’d be picked before the sun went down.
• Mike Gillislee beats out Jonas Gray for the final spot at running back. Both players were pretty much equal for most of the summer. When that happens, I believe the draft pick usually gets the nod. Gray is a great story, battling back from a serious knee injury, and a tough kid. Gillislee, I believe, will have a greater impact on special teams. That usually seals the deal.
• I look at the eight defensive linemen the Dolphins have kept and I can’t remember the last time this team had a deeper, more talented group. There is a lethal combination of power and speed. I’m especially intrigued to see the rapid development of Olivier Vernon. Best guess is you’ll see at least seven of the eight in every game.
• Don’t lose sight of the versatility of a player like Marcus Thigpen in cutting down this roster. Not only is Thigpen the team’s primary return man, but he can also line up at receiver, running back or, stretching it a little, even at an H-back type of role. As the season wears on, I believe Thigpen’s many talents will become even more evident.
So the toughest decisions of summer are finally behind us. As I wrote this column on Sunday, I realized it was the last non-football Sunday for about five months.
Now that’s what I call good news.
On Tuesday, A.C. in the A.M. takes a look at the realistic goals for this team.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.