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, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins quarterback David Fales has been on the bubble for his entire five-year NFL career, so he almost sounds convincing when he says Thursday’s exhibition finale at Atlanta is just another game.
Waived four times and released from a practice squad twice, Fales will likely be awarded the No. 2 job for the first time if he plays well against the Falcons.
If he plays poorly, he might be cut.
In his latest battle to stay in the league, Fales is competing with Brock Osweiler for Miami’s backup job.
“You can’t put too much weight on one game,” Fales said. “I’m going to approach it the same way I have every preseason game and every game. You can’t put too much pressure on yourself. Otherwise you’re going to be forcing stuff and trying to do crazy stuff, and it’s not going to help you.”
It’s the oddest thing about these preseason finales the week before the season — they’re poorly attended and mostly meaningless, but for players fighting to make the roster, the pressure’s perhaps greater than in a playoff game.
So Dolphins coach Adam Gase will see how Fales and Osweiler fare under pressure. Gase seeks a successor to the departed Matt Moore, Miami’s backup quarterback since 2011.
Osweiler and Fales haven’t looked like keepers much since training camp began, but Gase said he’s comfortable with his options at backup quarterback — an important role given doubts regarding the durability of starter Ryan Tannehill, who’s coming off knee surgery and missed the entire 2017 season.
Miami might decide to keep both Osweiler and Fales, but the fourth quarterback on the roster, Bryce Petty, is a long shot to make the team. There has also been speculation the unimpressive camps by Fales and Osweiler might prompt the Dolphins to go quarterback shopping before the season.
Gase said he’s certain his No. 2 QB will be either Fales or Osweiler. The reason for his comfort level?
“I’ve called games for both of them,” Gase said.
Fales won praise from Gase after his first career start in last year’s season finale. He threw for 265 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Buffalo.
Osweiler, a seventh-year veteran Randall Cobb Jersey
, was a backup with the Denver Broncos and played in 13 games when Gase was an assistant coach there.
The two contenders for the No. 2 job did little to help their cause in Saturday’s exhibition game against Baltimore. When Miami was outscored 24-0 in the second half, each threw an interception and finished with a passer rating under 36.0.
Gase blamed poor protection by second- and third-team linemen.
“I think Brock’s temper is better than it used to be,” Gase said with a slight smile. “He took a couple shots there. It’s not on him.”
For the entire preseason, Osweiler is 25 for 41 for 174 yards with one interception and six sacks. Fales is 14 for 27 for 184 yards with two interceptions and one sack. Neither has thrown a touchdown pass.
Like Fales, Osweiler tries to characterize the exhibition finale not as a winner-take-all battle for No. 2, but just another day in the ongoing competition to stay in the NFL.
“It doesn’t really matter what spot you’re labeled in,” Osweiler said. “You need to come to practice every single day and get better. Otherwise someone will take your job.”
6. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (4-12)
LAST SEASON: Andrew Luck missed entire season after having surgery for partially torn labrum. Without Luck, Colts struggled. Jacoby Brissett showed promise after being acquired in cutdown weekend trade. Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton struggled, at times, usually because of no viable supportive deep threat. TE Jack Doyle had breakout season and made first Pro Bowl. Defense improved throughout season but Indy couldn't hold leads, couldn't close out games, couldn't generate consistent pass rush. Missed postseason for third straight year, finished with first losing record since 2011 and coach Chuck Pagano was fired hours after season finale. Eventually, Frank Reich took over for Pagano after winning Super Bowl ring with Philadelphia.
THEY NEED: DE, OL, LB, CB Youth Marshall Newhouse Jersey
, WR, RB.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB, TE, K.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DE Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State; RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State; G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame; CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama; LB Roquan Smith, Georgia; LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech.
OUTLOOK: GM Chris Ballard wants to build through draft and has been looking to acquire extra picks to speed up process. Already pulled off deal with Jets, picking up two seconds this year and another next year. And he may not be done. If one of top QBs is still available at No. 6 and QB-needy team is willing to pay right price, Ballard says he could trade down again. If not, Colts are content staying at No. 6 and filling any number of needs. Chubb is considered best pass rusher in class and could help Colts move up from No. 31 ranking in sacks. Barkley is special and would replace recently departed Frank Gore. Nelson would help solidify interior offensive line and should help keep healthy Luck upright, if QB plays. Fitzpatrick could play anywhere in secondary that has lost both opening-day starters from 2017. Smith and Edmunds have made visits to team headquarters and would provide help in young, thin linebacking corps.