Teams must cut from 75 to 53 players on Saturday. With that in mind, here are five players under pressure who need impressive performances:
1. Will Davis, cornerback: The Dolphins have a lot of young cornerbacks and cannot keep them all. Miami drafted two rookies in Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett that it would like to retain on the 53-man roster as backups. So what does that mean for Davis? The Miami Herald reported this week that Davis is on the trading block or could be released. The third-year corner is coming off major knee surgery and needs to show well against Tampa Bay.
2. Caleb Sturgis, kicker: Miami proved earlier this week that it isn’t afraid to make a change on special teams. The Dolphins cut former Pro Bowl punter Brandon Fields in favor of rookie Matt Darr. Another rookie is pushing for the kicker job in Andrew Franks. It’s been very close and Sturgis needs to prove in the preseason finale that he’s the right man for the job. One miss by either kicker Thursday night could be the difference.
3. Spencer Paysinger, linebacker: The Dolphins signed the veteran linebacker to push for a starting job in training camp. However, that never came to fruition. Paysinger’s value is in special teams. But Miami has several other young linebackers, such as Zach Vigil and Mike Hull, who can fill the same role. Paysinger will get plenty of playing time to show what he can do on defense.
4. Jay Ajayi, running back: Ajayi is expected to stick in Miami, but that is mostly because he is a rookie draft pick. Ajayi has been outperformed by tailback counterparts Lamar Miller, Damien Williams and LaMichael James in training camp and the preseason. Ajayi has battled injuries and hasn’t shown much thus far in the preseason. A good preseason finale would go a long way for the rookie.
5. Josh Freeman, quarterback: Freeman most likely won’t make the Dolphins. But this could be one last audition for the former first-round pick to put something on tape to impress other teams. Freeman has been inconsistent with Miami and isn’t a great fit for its offense. But perhaps a good game could catch the attention of another team around the league.