In the preseason finale, the Miami Dolphins completed a fourth quarter comeback to top the New Orleans Saints by a score of 24-21.
Only one Dolphins starter on either side of the ball suited up in the game; right guard John Jerry who is working his way back from injury. With the first team units on the sidelines, this contest shed some light on the quality of depth the Dolphins have on the roster. Miami's second and third string defensive lineman played well and made it clear that if a key injury was to occur at this position, the Dolphins have a capable replacement. However, this game also made clear that an injury to a starting offensive lineman would be crippling, given the struggles of the backups throughout this matchup and the preseason in general.
With the starters sitting this one out, it was also a perfect opportunity for players on the bubble to prove why they deserve to be on the Dolphins 53-man roster. Some took advantage of the extra playing time while others saw their NFL dreams slip away from their grasp.
Let's take a look at which Dolphins saw their stock rise and which saw their stock fall in the preseason finale against the Saints:
Marvin McNutt, WR
In each of the Dolphins five preseason games we've wondered which of the bubble receivers would step up and this week it was Marvin McNutt. McNutt led Miami in receiving with four receptions for 99 yards including a 56 yard touchdown pass he hauled in from Pat Devlin. The touchdown catch was an impressive one, the ball was difficult to catch but McNutt was able to extend for it and out run the defender to the endzone in what ultimately was the game winning score. It looks like the battle for the final wide receiver spot on this team is between McNutt and Brian Tyms, however, McNutt has had the more consistent training camp and preseason, therefore he has to be considered the favorite to make the 53-man roster.
Evan Rodriguez, FB
After the team released Jorvorskie Lane, many assumed Rodriguez's roster spot was safe but that may not be the case. The Dolphins planed to use him as an h-back, similar to the role Charles Clay was in last year, however Rodriguez hasn't shown much as a ball carrier. While he is a good blocker, he is not built like a true tight end which puts limitations on how the Dolphins can use him there. Philbin has already stated the lack of a need for a fullback in his offense, therefore Rodriguez could find himself on the wrong side of the roster bubble.
Kelcie McCray, S
McCray has consistently put up good performances throughout training camp and the preseason and his contributions against the Saints could go a long way in solidifying his roster spot. The undrafted rookie recorded four tackles while defending one pass in the Dolphins victory. McCray's speed and hard-hitting ability could make him an asset that Miami wants to retain. He has put himself in a good position to make this roster as the team's fourth safety.
Jonas Gray, RB
Gray is likely the best short yardage back the Dolphins have on the roster, however he has not shown enough to convince the team to keep four running backs. His stat line of seven carries for 8 yards was his second disappointing performance in a row and it doesn't help his case to make the roster. He is competing with fourth round pick Mike Gillislee for the final spot, however the latter has the edge due to his draft position and the fact that he turned in an impressive outing against the Saints; 14 attempts for 47 yards. I would be surprised if Gray makes the final roster.
Dion Sims, TE
While he is only a rookie, Sims is already miles ahead of Michael Egnew and could push Charles Clay for the starting tight end job at some point this season. Sims showed that he isn't just a blocking tight end as he caught four passes for 36 yards and a touchdown against New Orleans. To have success this season, the Dolphins will need to capitalize on their redzone opportunites and that is exactly what Sims was able to do when he turned the corner on the defender and dove for the endzone. In fact, Sims could have had two touchdown receptions on the night if Devlin's throw wasn't low and out of his reach.