The Miami Dolphins are set to head to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers. Both teams are rebounding from disappointing seasons with new players and new coaching personnel. Despite it being only the second week of the preseason, this in-state match up features multiple headlines to watch for. Here are my five players to keep an eye on in Saturday’s contest between the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
1. WR Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace has been cleared to make his 2014 debut, and I for one am very anxious to see how much he will be used in new OC Bill Lazor’s offense. Chances are Lazor will want to save the “Mike heavy” packages for the regular season, but I will be focusing on the different places on the field Wallace lines up in and the questions that come with the wide receivers speed. How has Tannehill adjusted to his deep ball issues? Will Wallace be moved around? Hopefully we will get the answers. The relationship between QB Ryan Tannehill and Wallace is essential for this offense, and it will begin Saturday night.
2. The Miami Offensive Line
I believe we have seen our starting five Miami offensive linemen (the starters from the Falcons game) but then again it is only week 2. Rookie tackle Ja’Wuan James has looked okay this far, and has seen snaps both with the first team and second team O-Line. The position that truly worries me is center, where a missing Mike Pouncey spells trouble for the Dolphins. Recently signed free agent Samson Satele is aging and may just be a stop gap. Keep an eye out to see if the ‘Phins can contain and up and coming Bucs D-Line and pass rush.
3. WR Jarvis Landry
Yes, I have two wide receivers on my top 5 players to watch list, but Landry is on here more for the entertainment factor. This kid can play some football. He is faster than his stats, more agile, and gets open better than any Dolphin WR since 7/11 Chris Hogan (always open). All kidding aside, Landry has separated himself from Miami’s other rookies, and had a moment of excellence against the Falcons when he returned a punt deep into Dolphin territory. Marcus Thipgen, you may be on the verge of losing your punt returning duties. Stay tuned and keep and eye on Miami’s newest gem.
4. LB Philip Wheeler and LB Dannell Ellerbe
One (or both) of these guys needs to step up. The Dolphins are very solid in every phase of their defense except their linebackers. Wheeler and Ellerbe are getting paid too much to play at such a low level. They have exactly three more preseason games to turn it around before it really shows in the regular season. I am going to be watching them both closely to see who tackles with intensity and passion, and who is better than mediocre in pass coverage and getting to the quarterback.
5. DE Terrence Fede
I love what I have seen from Miami’s seventh round draft pick out of Marist (the first ever person drafted from this school). The big man has great upper body strength, and can make people miss while on route to the QB. He played mostly on the third team against the Falcons, though I expect we will see him work some with the second team in Tampa. The big man is also a great special teams player, and is a few more good games away from making this team and giving an aging D-Line some depth.
Tags: Miami Dolphins