DAVIE — There isn’t a Miami Dolphins player with more tackles in the preseason than Chase Allen.
But Allen has no idea how strong his chance is to make the final 53-man roster.
Allen figures to play a lot in Thursday’s preseason finale at Minnesota.
And then he’ll wait.
Miami will need to cut 37 players on Saturday, and a decision on whether to keep Allen, the undrafted free agent linebacker from Southern Illinois, could be one of the final ones coach Adam Gase makes.
“I’m sure it will be a long day,” Allen said of Saturday. “But it all depends on how I perform Thursday, is how I feel. That’s what I’m waiting on.”
Most of Miami’s starters will sit out Thurday’s game.
And while Gase and the Dolphins may have a good idea about who’s already made the squad, we can estimate there are perhaps six spots that legitimately could be won or lost in what most will view as a meaningless, hard-to-watch exhibition.
“We want to make sure we give them a full four games to do our evaluations,” Gase said after Tuesday’s practice.
It would seem veteran linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Kiko Alonso would sit out this game, opening a heavy window of opportunity for Allen, Mike Hull, Trevor Reilly and Deon Lacey.
It is possible Allen is competing with Reilly and Lacey for the final linebacker roster spot.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” Allen said.
Allen is 6-feet-3, 250 pounds and has run a blazing 4.58-second 40-yard dash.
He’d hoped he’d be drafted between rounds 5 and 7, but is inspired by another undrafted linebacker, Bart Scott.
Like Allen, Scott attended Southern Illinois. Last year, the two spoke on campus.
Like Allen, Dolphins running back Storm Johnson knows there may or may not be a spot on Miami’s roster for him.
Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams are locks. It seems like Miami would keep a fourth, Senorise Perry, who is out now with a knee injury, or Johnson, who last season spent eight weeks on Miami’s practice squad.
With Ajayi not expected to play, it seems Johnson may get his chance Thursday.
“I get to really focus in and get a lot of reps,” Johnson said. “See what I can really do with some reps under my belt.”
Johnson has 22 carries on 10 carries this preseason and two kickoff returns for 61 yards, including a 44-yarder.
Twice last week Johnson downed kickoffs in the end zone, at the advice of Perry.
Isn’t it hard not to just run that ball out, knowing one electrifying run could alter your future?
“And that play could be my last?” Johnson said with a smile.
As much as he would have liked to, Johnson knows following special teams protocol is important. After all, final roster spots often come down to special teams performance.
Is it hard not to constantly try to figure out if and where you fit onto the roster?
“It’s always in the back of your head,” Johnson said. “Especially when you like where you’re at. And you like the guys around you. It’s always a feeling of ‘Where will I be when the season starts?’ But I just come out here and work hard every day. The coaches are going to make the best decision for the team.”
Johnson, 25, has been waived by the Jaguars and Bucs.
He’s viewing Thursday as an opportunity to do something big — something that would convince Gase to keep him on Saturday, the day all roster-bubble players fear.
“It’s a dreadful day,” said Johnson, who played his college ball at Miami and UCF. “A lot of of things go through your head on that day. But you have to believe in yourself and your abilities.”
Join our reporters for a special evening as they talk NFL with Dolphins Pro Bowl Guard Jermon Bushrod, two-time Super Bowl champion Bob Kuechenberg and former Dolphins Pro Bowl linebacker Kim Bokamper on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Bokamper’s Fort Lauderdale. The event is free to the first 100 people and will include raffles, light bites and drinks.