5 Things I Will Be Watching For Against Tampa Bay

For the first time in my life I will be attending a pre-season football game.  I will be in the lower end-zone section but should have a good view of the field.  While I test out the Dolphins new product, “FanVision” which allows real time scoring updates, personal choice exclusive camera angles, and controlled instant replay, I will be also checking out what the Dolphins are doing on the field.  With the help of his product, I should be able to focus my attention on 5 things that I want to see from this first game.

Rookie Nolan Carroll has looked good early in camp.

1:  Nolan Carroll. Everyone is talking about this kid and I want to see how he plays in a real speed game against someone other than the Dolphins.  If Carroll has a shot at being the Phins nickel back this year, he will need to get up to speed in real conditions.

2:  Patrick Turner. Turner should see plenty of reps tomorrow night and his play may go a long way at securing him a gameday roster spot instead of simply being on the inactive list.  That could be interesting however because it’s unlikely the Phins will keep 5 active WR’s on gameday.  So who would be out if Turner can elevate his play?

3:  The KR/PR teams. The Dolphins were not that good overall last season in KR and PR duties.  Sure Ted Ginn had two nice runs against the Jets but he is long gone and never really solved the issue on the special teams.  Will anyone step up?

4:  Tyler Thigpen. Chad Henne will play a couple of series but then will turn the team over to Thigpen.  Thigpen needs to get more continuity in his game but the guy can run and that is a dimension that only Pat White has on this unit…of course Pat White can’t pass.  Can Thigpen?  We will see.

5:  The defensive LB’s. This is a group of guys that need as many reps as they can get.  Particularly Koa Misi and Cameron Wake.  Both need to work hard to overcome their short falls.  Wake against the run and in coverage and Misi getting to the QB.  As a whole, the entire unit needs to show what they can do under Mike Nolan’s defensive watch.

Bonus:  Chris Clemons has been extremely quiet in camp.  Very little mention of him in the papers.  Is it because he is doing well?  As the starting safety opposite Yeremiah Bell, Clemons is trying to make Dolphins fans forget about the Gibril Wilson debacle of a year ago.

Topics: Cameron Wake, Koa Misi, Miami Dolphins, Nolan Carroll, Patrick Turner

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  • Giancarlo Angulo

    What will I be looking for out of the Dolphins first pre-season matchup versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

    1. Of course, the biggest off season addition in the NFL this year, Brandon Marshall. Out of the few series he’ll probably get with starting quarterback, Chad Henne, it will be interesting to see how many times the young QB will dial the superstar Wide Receiver’s number. Marshall has frequently raved over Henne’s arm during training camp, often burning the Dolphin’s secondary, let’s see them try it against a veteran established cornerback in Ronde Barber. People are hesitant in saying Marshall’s three seasons of 100 catches in a row will continue, yet the fact the Dolphins allowed Henne to go to the air 45+ times in 3 of their last 4 games seems to give their quarterback many opportunities.
    a. On this particular day I expect one ball of 5 to 10 yards completed to Marshall along with a deep ball of nearly 30 yards.
    2. Lex Hilliard- This is a very versatile running back who has been hidden away from the world behind backs who could go for twin 1000-yard seasons. Last year’s preseason showed us the giddy-up in Hilliard’s step and he proved to be a tough back running through the middle often breaking tackles with his hard spin move and strength. He has also proven he can catch the ball very well out of the backfield when last season in a game versus the Houston Texans Hilliard hauled in 9 catches for 74 yards and a Touchdown, you may remember this game Hilliard also ran in a touchdown. Possibly a Tim Hightower type back? Surely a great replacement for Ricky Williams in the approaching years.
    a. I expect Hilliard to get a good amount of carries due to the fact Brown and Cobbs are coming off surgery and Williams will not be worked too hard this preseason; 10 rushes for 62 yards and a touchdown.
    3. Patrick Turner- The 2009 third-round selection from USC by the Dolphins stands at 6 foot 5 inches and was expected to finally be the big end-zone target Miami needed. Clearly when the Dolphins then selected Brian Hartline in the very next round critics wondered why they would waste such a pick. However, last season as well as this off season, Hartline flourished and is the front-runner to start opposite Brandon Marshall. With Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo still in the discussion, Turner has to perform simply to keep a spot on the Miami 52-man roster. Turner failed to make a single grab while only appearing in two games last season, so it will be interesting to see the way former USC stand-out handles this preseason.
    a. I expect Turner to struggle a little, but dealing with a weak secondary and an above-average back-up quarterback in Tyler Thigpen he will get his opportunities; 2 catches for 16 yards.
    4. Miami Defense- A couple of the biggest moves for the Miami Dolphins have been overshadowed by the arrival of Brandon Marshall. The addition of Karlos Dansby was brilliant, replacing Joey Porter who had been losing a step and only causing trouble. He will be expected to become a strong leader of the defensive unit, and we will see if his arrival motivates Channing Crowder to finally live up to his potential. The Josh McDaniels debacle in Denver also sent Miami another gift, this time as a defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan, who is arguably the best defensive coordinator in the NFL. In his only season in Denver his defense allowed 128 less points than the year before, as well as racking up 13 more sacks and 11 more interceptions. Also, the free safety position across from Yeremiah Bell was dismal last season filled by Gibril Wilson, this season it will be occupied by 2009 draft pick out of Clemson, Chris Clemons. He has stayed out of the news recently, possibly because he is doing well? If not, he has rookie safety Reshad Jones breathing down his neck. Cameron Wake could become a Joey Porter-like pass rusher at the outside linebacker position this season, I will be looking for his improvements in pass coverage and run stopping. Finally, let’s see last year’s rookie cornerbacks take some steps forward in becoming what I think will one day be the best cornerback duo in the NFL.
    5. The battle for the 2nd starting WR position- There is no question about who the number one receiver of the Miami Dolphins will be this year. However, the number two spot has been up for grabs all off season, thus showing Brian Hartline in the lead to nab the starting job. Last season Davone Bess filled this role after Greg Camarillo went down early due to injury, Bess proved to be an excellent possession receiver, hauling in 76 catches, many of which came on crucial third downs. Undoubtedly Bess was Henne’s favorite target on third down last season, he caught 35 balls on third down, 28 of which were to convert with one going for a touchdown. While everyone expected the speedy Ted Ginn Jr. to be the Dolphins deep ball threat, that label was actually placed on rookie wide receiver Brian Hartline, who caught 31 passes averaging 16.3 yards per catch. This total is fifth amongst all Dolphin wide receivers over the last 15 years.
    a. I hope to see both doing lots of work with both starting quarterback, Chad Henne, as well as backup, Tyler Thigpen. In the long-run I expect Brian Hartline to win this battle and Davone Bess to move into the slot receiver position.