Thursday could mark the end of Dolphins tenures for several familiar names on offense — not only the loser of the David Fales/Brock Osweiler backup quarterback battle but perhaps the receiver that the Dolphins dealt three draft picks for.
The Dolphins have only 10 career catches and 98 receiving yards to show for their 2016 draft day trade that sent third-, fourth- and sixth-round picks to Minnesota for the 86th overall pick, which was used on receiver Leonte Carroo.
And now Carroo stands in serious jeopardy of being cut when rosters are slashed from 90 to 53 by Saturday, unless he can overcome a groin injury and overcome mounting odds to capture a potential sixth receiver spot in a battle with Isaiah Ford, Rashawn Scott, Francis Owusu, Malcolm Lewis, Drew Morgan and anyone else that Miami finds appealing on waivers.
Adam Gase remained hopeful Carroo can play Thursday in the preseason finale at Atlanta.
So why hasn’t Carroo been what the Dolphins expected?
“I think, really, for him, a lot of times it’s just been the consistency,” Gase said. “When he has opportunities, take advantage of it. When you end up starting a game, which has happened a few times in the last couple of years, how are you going to impact the game? It might not be catching the ball. It might be blocking. It might be doing your job right to where you spring somebody else free. Just the little tiny details of being a complete wide receiver.
“Some of the injuries, the minor – getting banged up sometimes – have hurt him in critical situations to where he’s competing for a job and he has a little setback on an injury. That’s tough for him because he knows every rep for him matters. Every time he has a chance to play a game, it matters. Missing a game … I can’t sit here and go, ‘Well, it’s his fault.’ It’s just kind of luck of the draw sometimes. It’s ‘are you available for a game?’ That’s one of the key things in the league: are you available?”
In Carroo’s defense, “his sense of urgency is exactly what we want,” Gase said.
Carroo had only one catch for five yards in preseason before missing Saturday’s game against Baltimore with the groin issue.
Among others competing, Ford has three catches for 27 yards but none the past two weeks; Owusu 5 for 93; Scott had 3 for 57; Lewis 2 for 16; and Morgan 2 for 7.
Asked who has impressed him most from that group, Gase mentioned nobody and said: “Everything is wide open right now.”
Receivers coach Ben Johnson has said the team believes it got a seventh-round steal in Ford, but a strong game Thursday would assuredly help.
A sixth receiver is needed because Gase was non-committal on Monday about whether DeVante Parker – who has a broken finger –will be ready for the Sept. 9 opener against Tennessee; he still cannot catch a ball. Meanwhile, Gase had no update on Jakeem Grant, who left Saturday’s game with what the Dolphins announced as a concussion.
How the other offensive roster battles shake up:
▪ Backup quarterback: Gase declined to characterize Thursday’s game at Atlanta as a winner-take-all for Fales and Osweiler, but Gase said Monday that Ryan Tannehill’s backup is definitely already on the roster.
The Dolphins coaching staff has always felt comfortable with Fales as the backup, but if Osweiler is clearly better than Fales Thursday, then a tough decision looms. Fales said he doesn’t believe he has been as poor as his preseason stats suggest (42.8 passer rating, compared with an also subpar 60.4 for Osweiler).
▪ Running back: Sinorise Perry enters as the heavy favorite for a roster spot alongside Frank Gore, Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage.
▪ Tight end: Rookies Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe will be on the team and MarQueis Gray assuredly will, too. A.J. Derby appears the front-runner over Gavin Escobar and Thomas Duarte for a fourth job.
Coaches, earlier in August, praised Derby’s receiving skills but spoke of room for growth as a blocker. He had two stops on special teams on Saturday.
Asked how he has looked since returning Aug. 6 from a foot injury, Gase said: “Derby has been good, has had good practices. That was the number one thing I was looking for…. He didn’t get as many snaps as we wanted [Saturday]. I have a really good comfort level with where he’s at right now.”
▪ Offensive line: Coaches weren’t pleased with the second-team offensive line on Saturday, and multiple jobs are open.
“The quarterback had no chance,” Gase said. “It was a little disappointing because that group has been at least good enough with knowing who we are going to and what we are doing. We just really tightened up a little bit. It was disappointing to see.”
Sam Young and Ted Larsen should stick, but other jobs are open, with Isaac Asiata and young tackles Eric Smith and Zach Sterup among those competing and a decision pending on center Jake Brendel, who has missed all but one day since camp started because of a calf injury.
THIS AND THAT
The competition for the starting cornerback job opposite Xavien Howard appears to be over. Gase said the Dolphins “feel really good about” Bobby McCain playing that boundary position, after moving over from the slot earlier in August.
Meanwhile, Gase said rookie linebacker Jerome Baker is a starter in base defense “until we say otherwise.”
▪ Gase said some starters will play Thursday against Atlanta.
▪ Gase expressed confidence in rookie kickers Jason Sanders and Greg Joseph, but did not explicitly commit to one of them as Miami’s opening-day kicker.
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