Armando Salguero

The Miami Dolphins plans at LB leading up to final preseason game and roster cuts

Why is Armando Salguero posting a 2005 photo of former Dolphins linebacker Derrick Pope? Read the story ...
Why is Armando Salguero posting a 2005 photo of former Dolphins linebacker Derrick Pope? Read the story ... mhs

Seventh of a series

What if I told you the Miami Dolphins were going to add a player this summer who would not play in any preseason game, rarely be involved in any sort of practice, be mostly out of shape, not have an assigned number, but was a lock to make the roster?

You’d either say there is no way such a player exists ... Or you’d say Rey Maualuga is on the Miami Dolphins.

Answer B is correct.

Maualuga, a veteran of eight NFL seasons, joined the team less than two weeks ago. His signing was a response to losing starting rookie middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan to a knee injury and veteran Koa Misi to his ongoing neck injury.

And Maualuga came to the team after not really doing a lot in the offseason to stay in football shape. So the man who’s playing weight is anywhere from 255-258 pounds came to the team a big meal shy of 270 pounds.

Maualuga has been conditioning since he arrived. He’s participated in some individual drills in practice. But he hasn’t gotten 11 on 11 work, he still does not have a number and he is not expected to play in Miami’s preseason finale Thursday evening against the Minnesota Vikings.

But guess what? He’s one of the six linebackers expected to be on the 2017 Dolphins roster.

Maualuga, who played for Miami defensive coordinator Matt Burke when the coach was working with linebackers in Cincinnati, is expected to be available for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener against Tampa Bay.

Maualuga and Mike Hull are the team’s two middle linebackers at the moment. Yeah, the Dolphins don’t like to call them middle or strong or weakside linebackers. They call them something really footbally.

“We’re a three-stack ‘backer team,” coach Adam Gase said.

I personally am more partial to double-stacks but we’re talking French Toast now.

Anyway, the point is I look at the Dolphins linebacker corps and I’m not exactly blown away.

Yes, Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons -- both on the team -- are good players. Timmons is a game-day kind of guy. Alonso is an everyday kind of guy in that he is detailed about football from the second he wakes up to the moment he shuts his eyes for the night.

So I have confidence in them.

But the other four guys?

I wish Maualuga was 20 instead of 30. I wish he was in shape. I wish he could have had a better, more complete run-up to the start of the season.

Then we have Hull, who is a good special teams player. But as a starting NFL Mike linebacker, he’s not going to make anyone forget Karlos Dansby or even Akin Ayodele, much less Zach Thomas or John Offerdahl. Mike Hull is ...

...He’s Derrick Pope.

The Dolphins could use a couple of more linebackers on the team.

I have first-year player Deon Lacy on the team. He’s around the ball a lot and he is solid in coverage. He leads the team with three special teams tackles. He’s second on the team with 14 tackles on defense.

I like rookie Chase Allen and he has led the team in tackles this preseason, with 20. I know the Dolphins likes Trevor Reilly although he’s a little older, having been in the league two previous seasons, and I don’t see him around the ball too much.

In this case, for the final spot, I believe the game tonight could determine which one makes it -- Allen or Reilly. I would go with Allen.

(Oh noes, I just slimmed Allen because the Dolphins do everything opposite of what I say)!

Keep refreshing as I’ll have more information coming to you before game time which is 8 p.m. (EDT).

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