Matt Roth's absence from the Miami Dolphins will stretch into at least October. Filling his spot for the defending AFC East champions: A six-time Pro Bowler.
The Dolphins placed Roth on the reserve/non-football injury list Saturday, a move hardly unexpected since the linebacker has a groin injury that kept him sidelined for the entire preseason. It also essentially confirms what's been apparent for some time, that Jason Taylor likely starts at strong-side linebacker when Miami opens its season Sept. 13 at Atlanta.
When Taylor returned to the Dolphins from his one-year detour with the Washington Redskins, there was a sense he could be used only in certain situations this season. Not anymore _ and by Dolphins coach Tony Sparano's account, that was never the case.
"Jason's workload was never discussed when he and I met the first time," Sparano said. "That would be an honest, truthful statement. When Jason and I talked, we talked about role, not play count. And there's a difference. To me, we talked about opportunity, having to come in and compete. ... I don't think anywhere in there did Jason Taylor sign up to play 22 plays."
Roth won't be eligible to practice or play for the season's first six weeks. The reserve/non-football injury list is similar to the physically unable to perform list, with the distinction being that Roth's injury did not occur in a Dolphins' practice or game.
The 26-year-old Roth started 14 games last season for Miami, enjoying by far his best year. He's been able to complete some individual conditioning drills, but no full-scale practices since training camp opened.
All teams needed to pare their rosters to the 53-man limit by Saturday afternoon.
The Dolphins planned to reveal their moves in two waves. The first cuts announced Saturday morning included safety Courtney Bryan, offensive tackle Brandon Frye, linebacker William Kershaw, wide receiver Brandon London and cornerback Joey Thomas.
Defensive end Rodrique Wright _ an All-American at Texas who was taken in the seventh round of the 2006 draft during the Nick Saban era in Miami _ also was waived. Wright only played in 13 regular-season games for Miami, all during the 2007 season, although he did get into the Dolphins' wild-card game loss last season against Baltimore as well.
"It's a tough part of the business," Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington said. "The business side of football is tough. I've been on that side, too."
The final cuts, announced Saturday night, had the Dolphins waiving defensive end Ryan Baker, cornerback Will Billingsley, linebacker J.D. Folsom, linemen Nate Garner and Mark Lewis and wide receiver James Robinson.
"It's a tough day when you have somebody that has worked as hard as these players have worked and you have to tell them that they can't be part of what you're doing," Sparano said. "There's a lot of sensitivity there. I certainly appreciate everything they've done for us and just wish them luck. It's a hard deal."
NOTES: Rookie CB Vontae Davis did not practice Saturday, two days after the first-round draft pick injured his left knee in the preseason finale at New Orleans. Sparano didn't offer specifics on the injury. "We'll see," he said when asked about Davis' availability for the opener. ... RB Lex Hilliard, who was waived on cut day last year, said he was relieved _ but hardly relaxed _ when not getting the call this year. "A guy like me is always on the bubble," Hilliard said.