What To Watch For In Tonights Dolphins Opener


Jul 29, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; A reflection of Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Gibson (10) is seen through the facemask shield prior to a scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins open their 2013 season with a visit to Canton where they will play the hosting Dallas Cowboys.  Normally, you might find the desire to yawn about now.  Traditionally the HOF game has become a glorified scrimmage with rules.  With only a little less excitement than a Pro-Bowl game.  Tonight will be no different but there are a few things that will be worth watching.  Sorry Tony Romo is not one of them.  The Cowboys starting QB will not be playing in tonights game.  Ryan Tannheill however will be.

The Dolphins have three QB’s on their roster so expect all of them to get work in.  Matt Moore and Pat Devlin will see the bulk of the workload.  Tonight however the eyes of the fan won’t be on who is behind center as much as it will be on other areas of the field.  Here are five reasons you want to watch the game tonight.

1:  The new logo and uniform.  It’s rolled out and so far you have only seen it images unless you have been to the training facility to watch practices.  Tonight you will get to see it in action without red penny jerseys over top of the players that can’t be hit.  The logo has received a firestorm of both criticism and growth in popularity.  I stop almost every Dolphins fan I see on the street and ask, “What do you think of the new logo?”  Almost all of them reply with “It’s really growing on me”.  Might grow a little faster tonight when it’s seen on the field.  A victory as meaningless as it is would also speed that process up as well.

2:  The offensive line.  When it comes to the game the eyes will be squarely on the play of the offensive lineman.  Will the QB have time?  Will the RB have a lane?  Will Jonathan Martin get beaten up by the DE?   The Dolphins offensive line has been harshly judged thus far in camp and to some degree it’s warranted.  The injury to John Jerry sent the Dolphins into a “switch and see” mode that moved Ritchie Incognito to the right side and Josh Samuda from back-up to LG starter.  The moves also showed just how much more Dallas Thomas has to learn as a rookie.  The real talk though has been on the LT.  Martin needs a good game for as long as he is in the game and fans will pay attention to his efforts.

3:  The Dolphins corners.  Dimitri Patterson wants to start and keep his 4.5 million dollar salary.  Brent Grimes wants to return to his Pro-Bowl form after an Achilles injury week one 2012.  Richard Marshall wants to prove his back is not a problem.  Then there is Will Davis the INT king of training camp.  The young 4th round rookie has turned heads and impressed coaches.  Can he continue that when the lights are on and the team across from him isn’t wearing the same color?  The Dolphins who were heading into camp thin at CB suddenly seem to be teaming with potential thanks to Kevin Coyle’s system.  Tonight we get our first glimpse at how it is progressing.

4:  The Pass Catchers.  Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace won’t play tonight but the battle for the 4th spot on still rages.  Young rookies and 2nd year players are trying to make a name for themselves and will get the chance tonight to show what they can do.  The Dolphins are so thin at WR tonight that Brandon Gibson may line up wide and Marcus Thigpen may line up in the slot.  Marvin McNutt will likely see the entire game as will Jeff Fuller.  Rishard Mathews is out and Armon Binns was injury waived.  The Dolphins will be looking close at the guys named Tyms and Bumphis.  At the TE position we know that Dustin Keller will see a few snaps but more likely Michael Egnew is going to see the field A LOT.  He has looked miserable again in camp at least in pass catching and tonight could be a huge indication on whether he has a chance to make this team or will finish out the pre-season as a man waiting to be released.  Kyle Miller will also see extended duty and a solid game could push him ahead of Egnew and into a position to actually have a shot at the final 53.

5:  The defensive line.  They are supposed to be the meat of the Dolphins.  Tough, in your face, hard hitting, and now they want turnovers.  Tonight there are not protective vests, no two hand touch the running back.  It’s all in your face full contact football.  Jared Odrick and Randy Starks likely will not play which gives more time to Dion Jordan and Olivier Vernon who has looked exceptional this camp.  The Dolphins defensive front wants to be the best in the NFL and they have the talent to do it but they haven’t had the chance to showcase it.  The front line is supposed to be deep.  We will see how deep when the game kicks off tonight.