The Miami Dolphins will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Saturday at Sun Life Stadium in Miami’s fourth preseason game. The Dolphins enter the game with a record of 1-2 and will look to get themselves back to a respectable .500 win percentage during the exhibition season.
Just kidding about that, records don’t matter during the preseason. What does matter, though, is this game in particular. This is week 3 of the preseason (Miami and Dallas are one week ahead of the league due to the Hall of Fame game) which means it’s technically “dress rehearsal” time. Miami’s starters will likely play into the third quarter Saturday, giving Miami fans a nice sample size of what the team could look like this season.
Now, don’t kid yourself. Miami won’t show a ton of their stuff. Hell, no team shows their “stuff” during the meaningless preseason. But it’s a chance to see where the team is at talent-wise as far as the first team units are concerned.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on this Saturday:
- Who will step up at the TE position in absence of Dustin Keller? Yes, it sucks that Miami will not have the luxury of that seam-threat tight end everyone was so excited about. Get over it. TE Charles Clay looks to be “the guy” who will take over for Keller this season. If Clay can seize the opportunity and run with it, Miami will be a lot better off than trying to find something on the waiver wire come roster cuts. Young TE’s Dion Sims and Michael Egnew will also get extended opportunities during the game Saturday to show the coaching staff that they belong. Egnew under-whelmed just about everyone possible last season, so his job is likely on the line here. Sims is young and talented but has looked the part of a rookie in limited time this preseason. One of these guys has got to step up and start making some plays. My bet, sorry Chris Nelson, Egnew and Clay will share time being the guy.
- Who will play the nickel position on defense, now? With the release of CB Richard Marshall, Miami is now thin at the nickel position on defense. So, who exactly will take over for Marshall? CB/S Jimmy Wilson played over 500 snaps in that role last season, according to DC Kevin Coyle. Wilson is an excellent tackler and plays the football well. But Wilson is also a liability in coverage and makes bone-head play after bone-head play. CB Nolan Carroll is also a candidate —- Did I really just type that? Carroll has looked awful thus far in preseason action and should look to bounce back Saturday. The two other candidates are rookies, Will Davis and Jamar Taylor. Rumors had been swirling that Taylor re-injured his hernia shortly after returning to action, but according to Sun-Sentinel‘s Omar Kelly, Taylor was back in action today. Davis has been the talk of the town lately due to his ball-hawking ability. That being said, Davis also gets beat quite often due to his aggressiveness. One of these guys has got to step up and I’d put my money on Davis.
- Who will take over the running back battle? Yes, I’m about as surprised as you are. Coming into this season, I really believed that RB Lamar Miller was the team’s top option at the running back position. After three preseason games, it seems as though there really is a battle brewing for the running back position. RB Daniel Thomas has been seeing a bulk of the first-team snaps during practices this week and my guess is that Thomas will get the start against Tampa. Now, many suggest the team is trying to be careful with Miller. Honestly, I don’t know how valid that is. Realistically, Miller has looked good during the preseason. He’s made the most of his touches and looks explosive. Give credit where credit is due, Thomas has just looked better. While I believe Miller WILL win the battle, Thomas will likely see a nice amount of carries during the regular season.
- Will a receiver finally step up? For weeks now we have been waiting to see a receiver step up and take control over the fourth OR fifth receiver spot. Absolutely NOBODY has emerged from the pack. WR Rishard Matthews recently returned from injury therefor many are pinning Matthews as a lock for the 4th receiver spot and I would have to agree. Due to the lack of competition and his experience, Matthews takes the 4 spot. But who takes the 5th? WR Chad Bumphis disappeared (or was hidden) against Houston. WR’s Brian Tyms and Marvin McNutt were non-factors. WR Jeff Fuller has mysteriously disappeared. And WR Keenan Davis is still in Canton. Someone needs to step up for this regime and start making some plays for QB’s Matt Moore and Pat Devlin – sorry Aaron Corp, you don’t count because you’re not very good.
- Will the “injured players” play? DT Randy Starks and OG John Jerry have yet to see a snap so far this preseason. Starks will play a huge role this season in the success of Miami’s defense, especially their run defense. John Jerry will likely be the team’s right guard this season and looks like he is their best option anyway. It will be nice to see both of these guys out there, if they do indeed play. Starks has come out and said that he will be playing Saturday and I’m buying that. But Jerry is questionable at best. Yes he’s been practicing this week. But, let’s not kid ourselves, he’s a big boy. Jerry needs to get himself into shape before going out there and competing, therefore I don’t expect Jerry to play Saturday. If by chance he does, he won’t play very long. The team will get a good look at G Lance Louis with the first team offense.