Five thoughts on the Dolphins’ cut-down day:
1.The prime decision affecting the first month of the season wasn’t whether Miami kept Skylar Thompson or what happened with Preston Williams. It was the decision on cornerback Byron Jones. The Dolphins didn’t activate him off the physically unable to perform list after off-season lower leg surgery and so he won’t be active for the first four games. Coach Mike McDaniel had been optimistic Jones could be ready for the opener. This means the Dolphins have to decide how to play their cornerbacks opposite Xavien Howard. Noah Igbinoghene started the third preseason game with the No. 1 defense in keeping with summer work so the expectation is he’ll start there. Nik Needham, in that case, would stay inside where he played much of last season. Also, there’s the first four opposing quarterbacks to consider: Mac Jones, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow.
2. The signing of Trey Flowers, coupled with Melvin Ingram, gives the Dolphins two veteran edge players who have been impactful in their careers. They also aren’t the players they once were. Can they help in the right role? Absolutely. The larger question for a team thinking playoffs is where their bodies will be come December and January. Flowers is only 29, but has gone on injured reserve in November and December the past two seasons. Ingram is 31, and was let go by two smart organizations who valued short-term help in Pittsburgh and Kansas City in the past year. Andrew Van Ginkel’s appendix issue seemed to open the need for Flowers. But the story of Flowers and Ingram will be if they can impact games in the first half of the season — and, if so, where their health is the second half.
3. There was good work done to the receiving group that last preseason consisted of four of the top receivers sitting out with injuries. Getting Tyreek Hill obviously changed the offense. Jaylen Waddle, Dallas free agent Cedric Williams and fourth-round pick Erik Ezukanma were locks to make the team and each has shown strengths. That left two positions open. One typically goes to a player who is a special-teams stalwart. It was most recently Mack Hollins. River Cracraft looks to be that guy. So with cuts to talented Lynn Bowden and Mohammad Sanu, the decisions is what to do with Preston Williams. He hasn’t done much of anything since his rookie year. But he’s big and a target. His punt return — and miscatch — said the Dolphins want to see if he can do more than just play receiver, as the sixth receiver should. A trade as has been suggested. Would you give up anything of value for an undrafted player with an injury history who hasn’t done anything for two years? Regardless, the Dolphins have cleaned the shelf of marginal and injured receivers and have a dynamic group.
4. Don’t underestimate coach Mike McDaniel’s ties with San Francisco and offensive coordinator Frank Smith’s ties with the Los Angeles Rams, especially when it comes to judging offensive linemen. San Francisco is weighing who to release on the line. The Rams, as Super Bowl champs, have some decisions, too. The Dolphins released Solomon Kindley, who seemed the classic cost of changing systems — a power guy who could use a few pounds in a system that now wants better athletes. Alan Panckey was a versatile lineman.
5. Quick hits:
— Cornerbacks and tackles are the priority to pick up off the waiver wire from other team’s cuts. Problem is, that’s most every team’s priorities.
— Noah Igbinoghene had a tough summer and preseason, but seems safe as a former first-round pick. The question is if he’s the starter with Jones out, as the Dolphins lined up in their final preseason game.
The Bills released tight end O.J. Howard? Hmm.