Last week, I wrote an article on returning players who might benefit from new head coach Mike McDaniel this season. This week it’s about players who might be in danger of not making the roster. When there’s a new head coach, there is always turnover because the new coach wants to bring in their own players. I feel most of the change will come on offense because McDaniel is an offensive-minded coach. The Dolphins basically brought back everybody on defense, including most of the defensive coaching staff, with a tweak here and there. Some players have to play lights out in training camp to survive. 

Myles Gaskins and Salvon Ahmed are the only two running backs returning from last year. Sure, there’s also second-year running back Gerald Doaks, but he was on the practice squad last year and not elevated to the active roster. Gaskin and Ahmed were supposed to be the 1-2 punch at running back last year, but they were disappointed. Sure, their offensive line didn’t do them any favors opening up consistent running lanes for them, but the Dolphins picked up two guys off the street late in the year in Phillip Lindsey and Duke Johnson, and both had better success running than them. I don’t know what to make of that. Gaskin was a 7th-round pick in 2019 and has gotten better each year, but last year was inconsistent, and this is the final year of his contract. He’s no longer on scholarship. Ahmed was picked up on waivers in 2020 from the San Francisco 49ers, where McDaniel coached, so he is familiar with him and might give him an edge in the new zone-blocking scheme, but there’s no guarantee of that. 

The other thing going up against both guys is the Dolphins signed a few running backs in free agency in Raheem Mostert, Chase Edmonds, and Sony Michel. They all have experience in the league, and McDaniels knows them from working with them or watching them play in the same division as the 49ers. I don’t remember an off-season in which the Dolphins signed a bunch of running backs, so there will be some good competition at that position, unlike previous seasons. Gaskin and Ahmed must be on their toes if they want to stick around. 

Wide receiver Preston Williams is another player who will have to have a strong training camp to stick around. Like the running back position, the Dolphins were aggressive this off-season, adding more receivers, including Tyreek Hill and Cedrick Wilson. Williams is a talented receiver with all of the physical tools to be a good receiver in this league, but his first two seasons were cut short by injury. He also has had issues learning the playbook and inconsistent play. Last year was particularly frustrating. He only played in 8 games last year. He was hurt part of the year but was also not activated for other games and only had six catches for 71 yards on a team that didn’t have receiving talent. In his previous two seasons combined, he had 50 catches for over 700 yards and seven touchdowns. Those were two half seasons of play. He’s 6’5″, 220lbs, a big physical receiver who can run but doesn’t put it all together. He was brought back on a one-year deal, so this is it for Williams. On top of that, the Dolphins drafted a receiver in the 4th round Erik Ezukanma. Like Williams, he is a big physical receiver at 6’3″ 220lbs, so Williams will have to play lights out to have any shot of making the roster. I fear Williams will get released or traded and play better elsewhere to showcase his talents, and the Dolphins recently have had a long list of talented players they let go to perform better elsewhere. 

If there is one area that has had good depth the last few years for the Dolphins, it’s been the tight end position. The Dolphins have been carrying five tight ends the last couple of years, but that could change this year because the offense McDaniel has brought is bringing back the traditional fullback. The Dolphins signed Alec Inglewood and John Lovett in free agency, so the fullback in play, the Dolphins will probably trim the roster at other positions. The Dolphins have Mike Gesicki listed as a tight end, but let’s face it, he’s a glorified receiver unless he can improve his blocking skills. The two players that could be on the bubble are Cethan Carter and Adam Shaheen. Carter is a tight end and h-back but is primarily used on special teams, so there’s a chance he could stick around because of that. Shaheen could get caught in a numbers game, and he has one year left on his contract.

On top of that, the Dolphins drafted Hunter Long in the 3rd round a year ago, and he’s considered an excellent all-around player at the position who could potentially thrive in this new offense. His development could be critical to see who stays and who goes, but the previous coach drafted Long, so well see. This position will be a battle to watch in training camp and the preseason. 

I mentioned in my previous article about the offensive line potentially benefitting from a new coaching staff on offense, but there are players on the line that I don’t think fit. Solomon Kindley is in his third season, and he went from starting at left guard the first couple of weeks last year to being benched and not seeing the field the rest of the year. On top of that, Kindley is a big lineman at 340lbs, and I just wonder if he is athletic enough to play in this zone blocking scheme. He will have to drop some weight and get in great shape for training camp to stick around. He could get caught in a numbers game and offensive tackle Greg Little, who was acquired in the preseason last year and didn’t play a down; what a wasted trade considering the offensive line’s issues. If these guys couldn’t get significant snaps last year, what makes me think things will turn around? 

The Dolphins spent a lot of their resources this off-season to improve the offense, and McDaniel had a say because it’s his offense. This isn’t to say these players won’t make the team or have a significant impact, but with a new head coach bringing in a new offensive scheme, some of these guys won’t fit in. The players returning, he inherited some will stay, some will go or get weeded out. That’s the way it goes when there’s a new head coach.