With the start of training camp now just a couple of weeks away, it’s time to take a look at what will be some of the most hotly contested roster battles, beginning with the running backs.
The Dolphins currently have nine RB’s (seven halfbacks and two fullbacks) on their 90 man roster and to give you an idea of the reality of the situation: last year, Miami basically carried four men at this position. It may not be as crazy as the WR situation, but it’s still pretty nuts.
If you’d rather take a look at what Joe Philbin’s backfield looked like in Green Bay, it was about the same: three running backs and a fullback were on the Packers’ depth chart heading into their playoff loss to the Giants.
The simple math of it, then, is clear: five of the nine guys currently on the roster are likely gone by Week 1 and when you consider that Reggie Bush (career-high 1,086 rushing yards last year), Daniel Thomas (581 yards for the second round pick last year) and rookie Lamar Miller (fourth round pick this year) are almost certainly going to be in Houston, there are six guys battling for one single spot on the 53-man roster.
Here are those guys:
-Steve Slaton: The most experienced player on this list, Slaton burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2008, running for over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns with the Texans. Last year in part-time duty with the Fins, he carried the ball 17 times, averaging 3.8 yards per and scored one touchdown. Slaton is not only an experienced veteran, but also brings some special teams value to the table.
-Jerome Messam: Perhaps the most intriguing of all these guys, the 6’4, 248lb Messam is not your average rookie. At 27 years old and coming from the CFL, he’s a big back with speed, who despite his size, is not a fullback and has never played that position in his life. Jeff Ireland is probably hoping he found another CFL diamond in the rough with this guy.
-Marcus Thigpen: Another former CFL player, Thigpen has never carried the ball in an NFL game, though he has bounced around the league a little bit since leaving Indiana University. For what it’s worth, Thigpen seemed to be heavily involved during the mini-camp practices that the media was allowed to watch.
-Jonas Gray: A rookie undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame, Gray suffered a serious knee injury in the second to last regular season game against BC. His last year with the Irish was his most successful, running for 12 touchdowns and nearly 800 yards. Gray is still rehabbing the knee and would be a long shot to make the roster, though the team obviously sees some value in him. Might be a good fit on the practice squad or an injured list.
-Jorvorskie Lane: A former tailback at Texas A&M, Lane had some monster runs for the Aggie and at 5’11 and 277lbs, he’s another big option to be considered. He has Mike Sherman connections but didn’t play organized football in 2011 and his only pro experience was with the West Texas Roughnecks of the Lone Star Football League (indoor) in 2010.
-Ryan Mahaffey: A 2011 UDFA out of Northern Iowa, Mahaffey was originally signed by the Ravens but appeared in five games for the Colts last year. He caught one pass for five yards and was used more as a TE/h-back than true fullback, so he assumingly brings some flexibility to the Dolphins offense–something this team has talked about being very interested in.
You may also like: The Finsiders discuss the RB situation
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