Not Much Special About Special Teams In Game 1
The Miami Dolphin Special Teams looked pretty boring in their opening performance against Tampa Bay. The player that stood out the most in the game for me was punter Brandon Fields. That’s not a good sign if your looking for a little excitement in the return game, but considering how the defense played last night, he’s definitely going to be a big part of the team this year.
The return jobs that were once wide open only featured 4 players last night. With the injury to Kory Sheets, Miami may be leaning towards giving the jobs to players that are serviceable, but not game breaking.
Tristan Davis returned the first kickoff for Miami. He bobbled the kick, then managed to return it for 15 yards. He did have to battle the rain and the muddy infield, but he is still a longshot to make the final roster.
Nolan Carroll returned the 2nd kickoff 27 yards. He looked more explosive than Davis, and he is clearly going to be a part of the plans for Miami’s defense. He really impressed me on defense, he’s going to be a player! I look for him to get more chances returning kicks as the preseason moves on.
The punt returners were Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullen. Neither did anything real special, mainly due to the punts being tough to return. Bess is a lock to make the team, and he held the punt return job last season. RGM really has some ground to make up if he is going to make the team. He had 0 receptions last night, and has missed some time in camp due to injuries. He is battling for the number 5 receiver spot, and didn’t do as well as some of the other players trying to get that spot. Patrick Turner and Marlon Moore separated themselves from the rest of the pack last night for the 5th receiver spot.
The low light for the special teams last night was the blocked punt. Roberto Wallace was the man responsible. He clearly missed a block and the defender went right by him to block the punt. Not good for someone who has to produce on special teams if he has any hope of making the final roster.
Fields stole the show for me. He punted the ball 7 times for 372 yards. His booming kicks helped Miami keep Tampa Bay in their territory all night. His long of the night was 63 yards. Anytime a punter has distance like that, it’s possible to out kick the coverage teams. Miami covered the punts pretty well, the longest Tampa return was 26 yards.
Dan Carpentar added a 33 yard field goal. The best thing about it was where he kicked it from. He had to kick it off the dirt/mud, and did very well. Fields did a nice job of holding as well on the field goal. Even though he didn’t get the laces out, not rotating the ball eliminated the chance of the ball slipping in the mud.
Look for more players to get a chance in the return game as more preseason games are played. I would like to get a better look at Nolan Carroll and RGM. Carroll seems like he has the upper hand on things through game one. If he can stay healthy (knock on wood), it could be his job to lose, especially with how well he is playing on defense. Giving the job to someone that is already going to make the team will give Miami more options to add depth on the O and D lines.