When the Miami Dolphins signed veteran defensive tackle C.J. Mosley to a one-year deal back on June 10th, speculation ran rampant that this would be the last year in a Dolphins uniform for either Anthony Johnson or A.J. Francis, both of whom have potential to be excellent players but haven't had the necessary snaps to develop in games.
There are only so many spots on the roster for defensive linemen, and the Dolphins usually carry eight. So just going down the list, we can be sure to expect at least to make the roster for sure, with three positions up for grabs.
(1) Ndamukong Suh
(2) Cameron Wake
(3) Earl Mitchell
(4) Olivier Vernon
(5) Derrick Shelby)
And so that leaves three. The question is, who gets those three spots?
“We’ll see what happens,” Philbin said when asked if he expects Mosley to make the team.
The veteran defensive tackle spent all of last year playing against All-Pro Ndamukong Suh in Detroit, and he spent the second half of the season starting after Nick Fairley went down with a knee injury for the final eight games of the season.
Despite the resumé Mosley has, he has been stuck on the third team behind rookie Jordan Phillips - who has benefited from having Ndamukong Suh's tutelage, and former undrafted free agent out of LSU Anthony Johnson, who has been making plays for the most of camp so far.
“The thing I really like about him is the way he plays the game first and foremost." Philbin said regarding Johnson. "I think he’s aggressive, he plays hard and fast. Again, he’s another one of those guys that I’d say loves the game. I think his technique has improved over year one.”
Johnson showed promise last camp as well and in last season's preseason, and that led Johnson to being able to stick around last year. Now, it means Mosley will have to start impressing quickly if he intends to make the team at the age of 32.
According to Joe Philbin, Mosley's lack of snaps is not just about performance - although that is certainly part of it, it is also about monitoring his snaps to make sure he stays fresh.
“A little bit of both." he said about whether Mosley's limited snaps were about age or performance. "We kind of have a plan going in in terms of how we want to rep the guys each and every practice, and sometimes that fluctuates a little bit. But some of it is based on merit too. Sometimes younger players we want to get exposed to a little bit more than some maybe an older player. We kind of adjust the reps accordingly.”
Mosley was graded by Pro Football Focus as the 26th defensive tackle out of 81 in 2014, but so far his performance in camp while on the third-team hasn't reflected that. Cutting Mosley would save the team $585,000 and create $80,000 in dead money. If Mosley intends to make the team, he will have to step up quickly, as he doesn't have the benefit of being a young player like Johnson and Francis.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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