Quick Slant: Breaking Down the First Wave of the Miami Dolphins’ Final Roster Cuts

The first day of cuts are in the books for the Miami Dolphins. The team is required to trim the roster down to 53 players by 4pm on Saturday. The front office will have some very tough decisions to make, as Saturday is usually when most of the close-calls are made in terms of waiving or releasing players. Today, most of the personnel decisions were fairly obvious moves, with the Dolphins positioning themselves for a more newsworthy second wave of final cuts. Here is our breakdown from today’s roster moves, and projections as to what might occur in the final effort to trim down to the NFL limit of 53-players.

Damarr Aultman:

aultman_kickoff_Return

Aultman actually played well throughout the preseason, but Miami’s depth at receiver made him impossible to keep around for the season. The young receiver out of Maine should be able to sign with another team, and it will be interesting to see if he clears waivers. Aultman was a strong-bodied receiver, and could be of use to a team in need of physical pass-catchers.

Donald Hawkins:

This is one of the unfortunate cases in which a player sits in roster purgatory. Hawkins knew that he wasn’t going to make this football team, and the recovery of Branden Albert sealed his fate. I do not believe that Hawkins will be signed immediately (or be claimed on waivers), but it is very difficult to predict moves when it comes to the offensive line. It is entirely possible that a team has a severe need and claims him, considering he did take a decent number of snaps in the preseason. Hawkins was the starting left tackle in Miami’s scrimmage at FIU before the preseason began.

Anthony Johnson and Deandre Coleman:

Miami Dolphins rookies workout

These two players came in with the very tall-task of making this team at its most skilled position. The Dolphins clearly are not in need of any defensive lineman at this time. Johnson was an interesting player, as an ex-5-star recruit. The LSU Tiger was unable to live up to the hype, and could not catch on in Miami. His preseason was uneven, and even though he played well last night, it is hard to forget the penalties that marred his performance in earlier exhibition games. He does possess raw talent, and could be claimed by someone who has experience with him through scouting or recruiting out of high school, where he was a highly touted defender.

Michael Liedtke:

Liedtke’s release is not a surprise, and he unfortunately falls into the same category as Donald Hawkins here. We hope, as always, that he can find a team in need of his services.

Josh Freeman:

FreemanINT

Freeman was given one last chance. Unfortunately for him, it seemed that he was unable to rise to the occasion. Josh Freeman was once an incredibly promising young quarterback in Tampa Bay, but seemingly overnight all of his ability and potential were gone, and he plummeted from his high-post as the future for the Buccaneers. Freeman threw two very ugly interceptions in Thursday night’s game that not only capped the Dolphins’ preseason, but also likely capped the career of a once gifted passer.

Jeff Luc:

Jeff Luc played well for Miami this preseason, but the team has Zach Vigil and Mike Hull who made more compelling cases for a place on the final roster. Luc could be claimed by another team given the amount of film he was able to post in exhibition games, but he happened to be beaten out by two other undrafted linebackers. Luc had a huge play in Thursday’s game in which he laid a massive hit on a Tampa Bay player, but that highlight reel moment was not enough to save him a position in Miami. Vigil seems like a lock for the 53-man roster, but we will have to wait and see if Hull becomes the second undrafted linebacker to make the team. Unfortunately for Luc, he will not be that player.

What’s Next?

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Tomorrow will be a much more interesting day for the Miami Dolphins. The team has very tough decisions to make at cornerback, wide receiver, running back, and linebacker. It is always a tough juggling act to keep your best players, while still maintaining the proper numbers at each position. Today’s moves were simple, but hopefully Saturday brings resolution as to the kicking battle, the winner of the punt/kick return job, and which of the undrafted rookie linebackers will make the team (if not both). Check back in tomorrow for further updates as the team’s front-office works feverishly to decide on who will make-up the official 2015 Miami Dolphins.

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