Barry Jackson

Several long shots and bubble players are giving the Dolphins something to think about

Miami Dolphins guard Isaac Asiata, a fifth-round pick in 2017, did not play a snap last season but has impressed in training camp and preseason.
Miami Dolphins guard Isaac Asiata, a fifth-round pick in 2017, did not play a snap last season but has impressed in training camp and preseason.

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Thursday:

A few Dolphins who are either on the roster bubble or face not-very-good odds to make the roster have made a case for strong consideration in the past couple of weeks.

Among the “long-odders,” defensive end Jonathan Woodard and receiver Francis Owusu have impressed.

Woodard graded out the best of any Dolphins defensive player in the opener (per Pro Football Focus) and has had numerous quarterback pressures in training camp, albeit against backup offensive linemen.

Woodard, who’s 6-6 and 272 pounds, said he received no FBS offers coming out of high school and received an offer from Central Arkansas, his alma mater, only after using a recruiting service to send out his college tape.

“I never thought I would make it this far,” he said, adding he’s hearing “good things” from Dolphins coaches about his play.

He spent three weeks on the Falcons’ practice squad last season and joined the Dolphins’ practice squad in early December.

Because Miami is deep at defensive end, it’s difficult to envision Woodard making the 53-man roster barring injuries. The practice squad is much more likely. But he has given Dolphins coaches something to think about.

Meanwhile, Osuwu — who’s batting Isaiah Ford, Leonte Carroo and Rashawn Scott, among others — for a potential sixth receiver job, led Miami in receptions against Tampa Bay (4 for 82) and did a terrific job on the 45-yard catch from David Fales.

“You know when [associate head coach/special teams coordinator Darren] Rizzi likes a guy, we’re going to hear about it,” coach Adam Gase said. “[Owusu is] getting those opportunities on offense … I think in practice, it’s been a little bit inconsistent. It’s like right when he went into the game the other day, I’m going ‘I know this ball is going to go to him.’ … He does what he did the last time he was here, he makes plays.”

Among others on the bubble (or trying to get on the bubble), running back Sinorise Perry, tackle Zach Sterup and defensive tackle Anthony Moten have done good work either in the preseason opener or practice.

Gase said Isaac Asiata also has done a “great job.” He appears much improved, especially at run blocking, and has a decent chance to make the 53-man roster as a backup guard.

Asiata, a fifth-round pick in 2017, didn’t play a snap on offense last season.

Mo Smith and Walt Aikens closed training camp as the second-team safeties and Cordrea Tankersley and Torry McTyer as the second-team cornerbacks.

Cornerback Tony Lippett has been lower on the depth chart, still not back to his 2016 form after last August’s torn Achilles. Lippett was beaten on a 25-yard reception by Scott in Tuesday’s practice.

The Dolphins had interest in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater before he signed with the Jets but he was too pricey for their liking. He’s making $5 million for one year with the Jets, with potential to make a lot more through incentives.

The Jets might trade him, but paying that contract and yielding a draft pick would be unappealing for Miami unless a big need develops. And that big need has not developed to this point, with Tannehill healthy and David Fales giving the Dolphins solid work in reserve.

The addition of tight end Mike Gesicki isn’t the only reason the Dolphins believe they will be better in the red zone.

Danny Amendola has been a really good red-area guy for his whole career,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains pointed out. “I think the one thing that all good red-area teams do is they run the football well. You have to be able to run the football down there. That creates the one-on-ones for guys like Mike Gesicki and ‘11’ (DeVante Parker) and those guys to throw the ball outside the numbers, throw the fades, throw the back-shoulders and be able to create all those pick plays and all of the things this offense has done for a long time.”

In practice Tuesday, Jerome Baker was the third linebacker, meaning he came off the field when Minkah Fitzpatrick came in and the Dolphins went to a nickel package. Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan remained on the field.

So if this lineup holds – and we’re still a month away from the regular season - the Dolphins’ first-round pick (Fitzpatrick) or third-round pick (Baker) would be on the field to open games.

But Baker needs to build off his strong preseason opener to hold off Stephone Anthony (a non-factor in the preseason opener) and Chase Allen (who received limited first team work in the second week of camp but has been with the second team since).

Tannehill seems more comfortable in his skin – and as a leader - and he gave a candid assessment this week about why that’s the case.

“I think it’s just been a progression throughout my career,” he said. “I think the more confidence you get as far as games under your belt, time spent with the guys, time in an offense, dealing with all the bull crap that you deal with in this profession, I think at some point you’re kind of like, ‘Screw it. I’m going to be me and do everything I can to win and if they don’t like it, then oh well,’” he said.

“I think that’s part of it. Part of it is Gase and the support he has for me and the confidence he gives me to go out and be me and lead the way I want to lead.”

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