Barry Jackson

Dolphins audition two veteran linebackers; Dolphins personnel notes

Miami Dolphins CB Jordan Lucas (21) and DB Larry Hope (33), hold CB Maurice Smith (2) in a drill during training camp at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Fl, August 3, 2017.
Miami Dolphins CB Jordan Lucas (21) and DB Larry Hope (33), hold CB Maurice Smith (2) in a drill during training camp at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Fl, August 3, 2017.

A six-pack of Dolphins notes heading into preseason game two against the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday night:

• The Dolphins worked out two veteran linebackers on Wednesday - Rey Maualuga and Kelvin Sheppard - but opted not to sign either on Wednesday afternoon, per league sources.

The Dolphins didn’t rule out signing Maualuga and might revisit that idea later in August or beyond. It was unclear whether Sheppard was ruled out.

Maualuga, 30, spent his first eight seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, starting 108 of the 119 games in which he appeared and produced 343 tackles, four sacks, seven interceptions and six forced fumbles.

Last season, he started six games and appeared in 14, producing 17 tackles and an interception and playing 30 percent of the Bengals’ defensive snaps.

Sheppard started one game for the Dolphins in 2014 and 13 in 2015 but wasn’t re-signed after that season. He played in 16 games for the Giants last season, starting 11 of them, and had 50 tackles.

The Dolphins also are believed to have given consideration to former Redskins and Raiders starting linebacker Perry Riley.

• Most competitive Dolphins roster battle, aside from backup offensive line positions?

The ninth and 10th defensive back spots, among Walt Aikens, Lafayette Pitts, Jordan Lucas and promising undrafted rookies Maurice Smith and Torry McTyer. Larry Hope and AJ Hendy are also on the roster.

Aikens is valued on special teams, but the Dolphins are taking a long look at Smith and McTyer this camp.

Pro Football Focus says McTyer had the third-highest grade among all AFC East cornerbacks through the first week of preseason.

TJ McDonald doesn’t count on the 53 man roster until his suspension ends after the eighth game.

• Here was one problem with Miami’s 2016 pass defense that needs fixing: While Football Outsiders said the Dolphins ranked fourth defending the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver and fourth against the No. 2 receiver, they were 31st (second-worst) against all other receivers.

The takeaway there is that slot corner Bobby McCain must be better; so must Miami’s fourth corner (likely Alterraun Verner, with Tony Lippett out for the season).

• The Dolphins on Thursday want to take a long look at undrafted Virginia rookie offensive tackle Eric Smith, who very much impressed them in the preseason opener. Sam Young is Miami’s No. 3 offensive tackle at this time, but Smith has a chance to stick if he keeps impressing.

According to Pro Football Focus, Smith graded out higher than any offensive tackle in the AFC East in week one of preseason.

• With Rashawn Scott and Isaiah Ford likely not ready anytime soon, the Dolphins might not even keep a sixth receiver, unless Leonte Carroo’s hamstring injury lingers.

That’s why the next three games are big for Drew Morgan, Damore’ea Stringfellow and Malcolm Lewis. If none of those three really impress, Miami could go with five receivers or add a sixth off waivers.

• Quick stuff: PFF says defensive end Terrence Fede had the fourth highest grade of any AFC East player in week one of the preseason, albeit against Falcons backups... Talk about low expectations: NFL Network analyst Michael Robinson, the former 49ers and Seahawks fullback, said the signing of Jay Cutler may lift the Dolphins from three or four wins to five or six. Huh?

Here’s who the networks have assigned to the first four Dolphins games, plus a look at NFL announcing changes at CBS and Fox. And please click here for my posts with UM and Marlins nuggets today.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

We will have a UM football post on Thursday. After that, my next buzz post of any kind will be on Aug. 28. Colleagues Adam Beasley and Armando Salguero will be with the Dolphins in Philadelphia for joint practices next week and will have plenty of good stuff.

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