The first preseason game is finally upon the Miami Dolphins, with their game against the Atlanta Falcons set to kick off this evening. While the Miami Dolphins starters will play only a few snaps, not likely to play the bulk of a preseason game till the third week of the preseason, these next 2 weeks are mostly for the reserves to make an impact trying to find their niche and help themselves make the final roster.
With this said, there are a few battles amongst players that I will be keeping an eye on tonight. The reason this is important is because an NFL team is really only as good as their depth; the better their depth is, the stronger they are as a team.
Running Back is a position that will see a heavy work load in this first preseason game, as the Miami Dolphins are likely to run the ball quite a bit since Quarterbacks Matt Moore and Pat Devlin may be held out due to injury and for the coaching staff to get a good evaluation of the Offensive Line as they sort through the mess along the interior of the line.
Hence, once Lamar Miller gets his reps in and heads to the bench, this will be the opportunity for Mike Gillislee, Damien Williams, Orleans Darkwa & Marcus Thigpen to show their stuff. With Knowshon Moreno and Daniel Thomas on the shelf, there probably won’t be a better chance for one of these Backs to shine. Considering Miller and Moreno are probably locks to make this team. You’re looking at 5 guys vying for what is 1 maybe 2 available roster spots.
Thigpen will probably have the best shot at making the team due to his versatility as a returner and receiver, and could make way for a young RB to b kept as Thigpen can be kept on roster as a Wide Receiver.
Thus leading me into the next battle, I figure the Dolphins have 5 locks to make the team at Wide Receiver. Mike Wallace, Brain Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews, and Jarvis Landry. Which leaves Thigpen, Armon Binns, & Damian Williams vying for what looks to be 1 remaining roster spot. These 3 guys are gonna have to catch everything that comes their way if their gonna outperform their competition.
Obviously, the bulk of the attention is gonna fall on the Offensive Line. Much maligned for all last season, the Miami Dolphins need get rookie Right Tackle JuWuan James a good amount of reps while figuring out the right combination of guards and center to move forward with and let build chemistry. I will be primarily focused on the Right Guard spot and its 3 way battle between Dallas Thomas, Shelley Smith, and Billy Turner.
On Defense, I think the Dolphins have underrated battles going on at Safety and Linebacker, granted it’s probably because it’s at the back up positions, but they should be exciting none the less.
At Linebacker, unheralded rookies Jordan Tripp and Chris McCain look to capitalize on their training camp buzz, seeking to leap frog the likes of Jelani Jenkins, Jason Trusnik, and Jonathan Freeny. Freeny and Trusnik have to feel the most unsafe, as they don’t posses the athleticism and or versatility that Jenkins and Tripp have, while neither of them has the pass rush potential and freak athleticism that McCain brings to the table.
At safety, you got 3 guys fighting it out for what looks like 1 maybe 2 remaining spots. Michael Thomas, Jordan Kovacs, and Don Jones are gonna have to show some value on special teams and in coverage to prove their worth. Thomas has the best chance to stick due to his similar skill set to roster lock Jimmy Wilson.
Exciting battles are primed for tonight’s game, Dolphins fans will be looking for some positive signs, it’ll be nice to see the starters handle business in their short reps, but it’ll be nice to see a deep squad show the true talent of the Miami Dolphins. FINS UP!