The Dolphins will do to their roster what they have done every year at this point — reduce, reuse and recycle players dropped from other teams, a mostly below-water churning that keeps the league office busy.
Miami did its part again Sunday, parting ways with safety Don Jones and receiver Damian Williams to make room for a couple of defensive backs: Brandian Ross (a starter last year for the Raiders) and Sammy Seamster (cut recently by the Ravens).
Truth is, though, that the fate of this team has — and will continue to rest — in the hands of about 30 players who will see the most meaningful action. And beginning Sunday against the Patriots, we will truly learn if those three-dozen players are good enough to get the Dolphins over the playoff hump.
“We’re excited about the season opener,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey told reporters Sunday. “Being at home, being in front of our home crowd, [we’re] really excited.”
“It’s a divisional rival. We’re really going to get a test there.”
Hickey, like presumably every other NFL general manager, outwardly exudes excitement and optimism. He has done the No. 1 task demanded of him upon his hiring. He rebuilt an offensive line stained by both a bullying scandal and a team record 58 sacks. Hickey has assembled the most talented roster Joe Philbin has had as coach.
Or to paraphrase Bill Parcells, the groceries have been bought. Now it’s time for Philbin to cook a feast.
“What makes me confident about this team is the guys in that locker room,” Hickey said. “Having the chance the last seven months, my initial reaction was positive, and it’s just been confirmed on every point. These guys are committed to winning, they’re passionate, and they’ve paid the price. They’re excited to take the field at home and go to work.”
He built a roster that eliminated much of Jeff Ireland’s dead weight, and despite an urgency to win now, has gone young. The Dolphins, as of late Sunday, had 12 rookies on their 53-man roster, half of whom weren’t even drafted.
Instead of spending all the way to the salary cap, the Dolphins might sit on most of their remaining $11 million or so in space and roll it over to 2015, when many of their veterans’ contracts balloon. Hickey said likes the “flexibility” that such a cushion provides.
“Our philosophy is, once you get here, whether you are an unrestricted free agent or whether you’ve already been on the roster, whether you are a draft pick or whether you are an undrafted player, we are going to judge you based on merit and what you do here,” he said. “Once they are here, we have competitive environments and you just compete, and that’s how we come to our decisions.”
This and that
The Dolphins decided against putting Pouncey on the physically unable to perform list, indicating that they expect him back some time in the next six weeks. Until he returns, Samson Satele will start. Hickey indicated Nate Garner will back up Satele.