Miami Dolphins

With Parker’s health in question, Dolphins load up on skill players

Dolphins Arian Foster, 34, breaks a tackle in the first quarter as Isaiah Pead, 22, Damien Williams, 26, watch on the sideline at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, Aug. 25, 2016. The trio are among the five running backs coach Adam Gase kept Saturday.
Dolphins Arian Foster, 34, breaks a tackle in the first quarter as Isaiah Pead, 22, Damien Williams, 26, watch on the sideline at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, Aug. 25, 2016. The trio are among the five running backs coach Adam Gase kept Saturday.

Adam Gase loves offense.

And his first 53-man roster reflects that.

In his first cut-down day as an NFL head coach, Gase elected to keep three quarterbacks, five running backs and six wide receivers.

The disclaimer: that’s subject to change as soon as Sunday, when the Dolphins are expected to scour the waiver wire for linebackers, tight ends and perhaps a corner or two.

But for now, the Dolphins are loaded with offensive skill-position players, including rookie Brandon Doughty, who beat out Zac Dysert for the team’s No. 3 quarterback job. Doughty outplayed Dysert in the final preseason game, and it might have been decisive.

Yet that wasn’t the biggest surprise of the day. This was: Gase’s decision to keep both Damien Williams and Isaiah Pead at running back. Most expected the team would have to choose one or the other. Instead, Williams and Pead join Arian Foster, Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake on the first active roster. Williams, Pead and Drake will need to play special teams to be activated on game day.

Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase talks about his wide receivers coach, Shawn Jefferson, putting on a helmet and pads and making contact with his receivers in a blocking drill at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida, August 16, 2016

As for Gase’s decision to keep both Griff Whalen and Jakeem Grant, receiver DeVante Parker’s fragile health might have played a role. Parker is dealing with yet another hamstring injury, and the Miami Herald has learned that there are real questions about when he will return.

The Dolphins open the season next Sunday in Seattle, and there’s a chance Parker won’t be in the lineup when they do.

Whalen, a free agent signed this spring, has impressed Dolphins coaches enough to seemingly jump third-round pick Leonte Carroo on the depth chart. The speedy Grant, meanwhile, will be primarily a returner as a rookie.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker returns to practice after an injury sidelined him during training camp at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida on Tues., Aug. 9, 2016.

Here’s what else the Dolphins’ roster moves tell us:

▪ Chris Culliver isn’t close to being ready physically. The veteran cornerback will begin the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, keeping him out for the first six weeks of the season. That’s not a surprise. He tore his ACL and MCL last fall.

▪ The coaching and personnel staffs saw what the rest of us did: Julius Warmsley was simply too good to keep off the team. The first-year defensive tackle beat out Chris Jones for a roster spot. Defensive end Terrence Fede, who is nursing a knee injury, is also safe for the time being.

▪ Jordan Lucas’ upside was enough to beat out Chimdi Chekwa’s experience. The Dolphins cut Chekwa, who for a while pushed for a starting cornerback job, and kept Lucas, a rookie.

▪ MarQueis Gray was better than fellow Thomas Duarte and Dominique Jones. But whether he’s better than the dozens of tight ends cut by other teams Saturday remains to be seen. As of now, he’s third on the depth chart, but the Dolphins might be looking to upgrade. Duarte, a rookie seventh-rounder, is likely headed to the practice squad if another team doesn’t claim him.

▪ Kraig Urbik and Anthony Steen will join Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner or Jermon Bushrod as Miami’s backup linemen. Urbik and Steen beat out Sam Young, Ulrick John and former fourth-round pick Jamil Douglas.

▪ The Dolphins’ linebacker depth remains a concern, particularly with Jelani Jenkins nursing a knee injury. Still, they only elected to keep six, including reserves Neville Hewitt, Mike Hull and Spencer Paysinger. James-Michael Johnson, James Burgess and Tyler Gray are now looking for work.

▪ Running back Daniel Thomas said his goodbyes for a third time. The Dolphins have now cut Thomas twice and let his contract expire in the past 25 months.

▪ The other nine Dolphins players cut Saturday: defensive ends Cleyon Laing, Jordan Williams and Cedric Reed; defensive tackle DeAndre Coleman, corners Rashaan Melvin and Lafayette Pitts; safeties Shamiel Gary and A.J. Hendy; and wide receiver Rashawn Scott.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

Cut-down day

Dolphins waived: LB James Burgess; DT Deandre Coleman; G Jamil Douglas; TE Thomas Duarte; QB Zac Dysert; S Shamiel Gary; LB Tyler Gray; S A.J. Hendy; T Ulrick John; DT Chris Jones; DE Cleyon Laing; CB Rashaan Melvin; CB Lafayette Pitts; DE Cedric Reed; WR Rashawn Scott; DE Jordan Williams.

Dolphins released: CB Chimdi Chekwa; LB James-Michael Johnson; TE Dominique Jones; T Sam Young.

Dolphins placed on reserve/physically unable to perform: CB Chris Culliver.

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