DAVIE, Fla. -- As Dolphins fans bemoan the success rate of recent second- and third-round draft picks, Exhibit A and Exhibit B of their ire, running back Daniel Thomas and tight end Michael Egnew, spring to mind.
But things are different for them this year. They're not in the discussion to earn starting spots, they're in the discussion to be cut.
A good performance the rest of the preseason, starting with Saturday's home opener against Dallas at Sun Life Stadium, is crucial for both players.
It's also crucial for the Dolphins to end talk about their second- and third-round burnouts.
Since 2010, the Dolphins have selected 11 players in the second and third rounds. Only two -- linebacker Koa Misi and defensive end Olivier Vernon -- are starters.
Thomas, the 2011 second-round pick from Kansas State, might not even play against Dallas due to a hamstring injury that's further endangering his chances of making the team. It might help a little bit that he plays on some special teams.
"I guess so, we'll have to see, though," Thomas said of special teams being a saving grace. "You can't really worry about all those number things. You just have to keep getting better every day."
Egnew, the 2012 third-round pick from Missouri, should play plenty against Dallas. Most likely he'll even get snaps with the first team. But whether he deserves a roster spot, or has a special skill (blocking, receiving, etc.) the Dolphins can't afford to lose, is debatable.
"We're all competing for a spot and that's how it is every year," said Egnew, who has seven receptions for 69 yards and no touchdowns in two seasons. "Hopefully I fit into the right spot. I can't exactly tell you where I fit in just yet, but whatever I need to do to win is how I see myself fitting in."
Thomas, who has rushed for 1,312 yards (3.6 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns in three seasons with the Dolphins, practiced earlier this week but might have re-injured himself because he sat out Thursday's walk-through practice.
Thomas is likely the third, fourth or fifth running back behind Knowshon Moreno, Lamar Miller, Damien Williams and Mike Gillislee.
Thomas was supposed to be an every-down back and then he was supposed to be a short-yardage back, but he hasn't been either. Being sidelined by an injury makes his situation worse.
"We've got a lot of great running backs and not being able to get out there and show what you can do is tough," Thomas said, "but I've got to keep rehabbing and try to get out on the field."
At tight end, starter Charles Clay and reserve Dion Sims are clearly the top two tight ends. The Dolphins will likely keep three.
That means Egnew, who missed time early in training camp due to a concussion, has to battle a fairly nondescript group that includes Arthur Lynch, the rookie fifth-round pick, Gator Hoskins, Brett Brackett, Kyle Miller and Evan Wilson. It's a close race.
There's still a chance the Dolphins can get good production out of their recent second- and third-round picks. Cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, and guard Dallas Thomas, last year's second- and third-round picks, could end up being major contributors this season.
And it appears wide receiver Jarvis Landry, this year's second-round pick, will be a major contributor.
On the other hand, two other recent second- and third-round picks -- tackle Jonathan Martin and guard John Jerry -- are no longer on the team. If Thomas and Egnew don't make the roster that'll mean four of the 11 second- and third-round picks of the last five years are gone.
Egnew is taking it one day at a time.
"All I can do," he said, "is prepare myself for the game, work as hard as I can during the week, and then put what I can on film and let the chips fall where they may."
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