Miami Dolphins pre-season game 2: What to watch
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins will take on the Carolina Panthers tonight at 7:00 eastern time. The Dolphins looked good on the starting front in week one against the Bears but the depth left a lot to be desired. Of course the Dolphins dropped that game 27-10.
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Tonight the Dolphins starters will get a little more playing time, probably about a quarter to a quarter and a half before taking a seat to the back-ups. Next week the Dolphins starters will play at least two quarters and likely a series or two in the second half so tonight’s game will be important to the players trying make the final 53 man roster.
What should you expect from tonight’s game? Let’s take a look.
For starters, literally, it will be interesting to see if the Dolphins offense can generate points like they did in their one series two Thursdays ago. In addition, it will be interesting to see if Ryan Tannehill has found a cohesive bond with players like Jordan Cameron and Kenny Stills. Cameron was quiet in week one while Stills has returned from injury.
Matt Moore is someone to watch closely. He has a poor outing in week one against Chicago and he needs to show some improvement if he is going to be the teams back-up. He doesn’t have much competition, o.k any competition behind him but that is not a reason to not show up and play like we have seen him do in the past. By now Moore should be eating up back-up units so it’s time to see him do just that.
There is a very good competition at running back and wide-receiver. Specifically LaMichael James and Michael Preston. Tonight should give us more of a clue as to what we actually have with both. James started strong in training camp but he didn’t look that good in week one and Preston is trying to earn a spot on what would be six receivers should he make the roster without injuries. Preston is battling Laron Byrd who has looked very good as of late. Byrd, younger, could make a push for that final spot so tonights game could give us some insight into that position.
As for James, he needs to prove to the Dolphins coaches that they have to keep him. Right now it’s Lamar Miller, Damien Williams, and Jay Ajayi who we also need to see something from as well. James however is the 4th man which makes him potentially the odd man out. James was not impressive in return duties last week either so his special teams play tonight will be scrutinized as well.
Caleb Sturis made his lone field goal attempt last week and his lone extra point but he kicked off out of bounds which gave him a bad grade for the night. He is being challenged by rookie Andrew Franks who has been very inconsistent in camp at times. Franks needs to get on the field tonight and it will be of interest to see who has the better chance to make the roster. Franks can’t make it without game film on him at this level.
Last week the Dolphins held joint practices with the Panthers and the offensive line looked good against them. For the most part they played better than many would have though against Chicago. Seeing two weeks of good play will go a long way to helping this offense. Billy Turner should once again see a lot of playing time and will be under the microscope. Jamil Douglas is who I want to watch as he needs to start at one of the guard positions and likely will. If the offensive line can’t step up the Dolphins won’t play well on that side of the ball tonight.
Defensively the Dolphins looked good while the first team unit was on the field but the depth along the defensive line couldn’t stop the 3rd and 4th team Bears units and allowed far too many yards on the ground. The Dolphins are supposed to have very good depth here so I want to see that depth shutdown the Carolina back-ups.
Cornerback is going to be fun to watch. Grimes will play with the starters and then sit. I want to see if what Will Davis has been doing in practices can once again translate to the field. The Dolphins have a few rookies in camp as well and it will be something to watch in the 2nd half as to how well they are adjusting to the game play. This is where players start to earn roster spots.
Last week Zack Vigil graded out well but can he do it again this week from the linebacker position? Of all the un-drafted linebackers Vigil has looked very solid through camp and can take another step towards making the roster with a good outing tonight. Another battle is brewing at middle linebacker where Koa Misi is holding off Kelvin Sheppard so keep an eye on that position through the first half of tonights game.
At safety the Dolphins lost Louis Delmas for the year, again, it will be tasked to Walt Aikens and Michael Thomas to fill. Both players have the talent but only one of them can start. Tonight it very well may be Aikens but I suspect both players will get ample time on the field.