The Miami Dolphins kick off their exhibition season tonight when they take on the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. The first of four pre-season games will not give fans a full view of the changes on offense but will give fans enough to wet their appetites.
So what can Dolphins fans expect from this game? A lot and a little. Here are five things heading into tonights game to keep an eye on.
Bill Lazor’s offense:
While fans won’t get to see the full offense tonight we should still get a good glimpse of the subtle differences from the past two seasons. Specifically the speed and tempo. The Dolphins have been preaching “tempo, tempo, tempo” all throughout camp thus far and we should see that on display tonight. Watch the transition between plays as the team moves from the huddle to the line of scrimmage. Watch how the quarterbacks direct the players and let’s see if we can hear the “go-no-go” count from last year but really let’s hope we don’t.
Will Davis and Jamar Taylor:
Both cornerbacks are expected to see a lot of playing time tonight after the starters hit the bench after a couple of series. Taylor, who was our guest on, “On the FinSide” this past Tuesday, is ready to start hitting and put what he has learned from Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes to use on the field. Taylor is rooming with Davis at camp this year and both have been working hard to improve for their sophomore year. Tonight should give us a glimpse at the progress they have made.
Don’t expect to see a lot of Brander Albert at left tackle but instead Nate Garner. Albert will play some but the Dolphins are take the cautious approach with the veteran. The offensive line is starting to improve and tonight will go a long way to showing that they are indeed coming together. At center, at the time of this writing, it’s unknown if Sam Brenner or Samson Satele will start but chances are we will see quite a few of both players. Ja’Wuan James should get some extended look as the teams offense progresses from the first team units to the 2nd as the Dolphins really should get him as much experience as they can prior to the seasons start.
The battle for the right guard position will feature Billy Turner trying to unseat Dallas Thomas. It’s one of the few actual camp battles along the line with other positions more or less falling into place. Keep an eye on both guards as it’s likely we could see one or the other most of the first half.
Lamar Miller will get the start and the team will turn over the running game to a combination of Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee, and Damien Williams. The Dolphins need to make a decision on Thomas this year and a lot of that will ride on how well Knowshon Moreno gets acclimated now that he is cleared to practice. It’s unlikely that Moreno contributes much if anything tonight. The Dolphins might extend the play of Miller while Moreno is being eased back in. It’s important for the team to get a good look at how the running backs will perform in this offensive system. He might play a quarter but no more than that. Late in the game keep an eye on Damien Williams, he has been looking good in camp and should see a considerable amount playing time.
The return game:
While it will be nice to Jarvis Landry on the field for the first time it will be more interesting to see who steps up in the kick and punt return game. The Dolphins will have a tough decision to make on Marcus Thigpen who contributing almost nothing outside of the return game. He is listed as a wide-receiver on a deep unit. His production has slipped over the last two seasons and the Dolphins are wanting to see if someone else can take that role over. Look for the team to either give Thigpen a lot of return snaps or very few as they work out others. I would venture to believe it will be the latter.