The Miami Dolphins got a victory on Saturday night in their opening exhibition game but Skylar Thompson wasn’t the only one that shined.
The game last night showed there is plenty more work to be done by Mike McDaniel and his coaching staff but with many starters either sitting the entire game out or running a few plays and then taking the bench, Miami relied heavily on players competing for roster spots and veterans who needed the work.
Defensively we saw a lot from the deeper depth along the front line and secondary while on offense, a hodgepodge of offensive lineman came in and out of the game. This wasn’t unexpected by any stretch but it does skew how the game can be perceived and for the Buccaneers, it was the same. They sat 29 players at the start.
Skylar Thompson had a good game missing only 8 passes on the night, 20/28, a TD, and over 200 yards. While he had a good game, he didn’t make a lot of eye-popping big plays sans the touchdown throw but he delivered enough to show he has talent.
Cedrick Wilson, Jr. is going to have a very good year.
Wilson didn’t play all that much. He was on the field early and made some nice catches. Clearly, the Dolphins have a plan for him and he will be a big part of the Dolphins’ passing game.
Wilson was targeted three times early and caught all three for 29 total yards. Then he took a seat on the bench. What stood out was his ability to create quick separation and his route running was crisp. He was also able to make moves to gain extra yards.
Lynn Bowden, Jr. made a case for himself.
Yes, by the time Bowden came into the game the Bucs were deep in their depth chart but Bowden looked good when he was on the field. He caught three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown when he blew by a defender. He also added an 18-yard punt return to his game stat making several defenders miss and another kickoff return for 26 yards.
Bowden has been hearing his name on the trade rumor mill for a little while now and last night could have swayed Miami to keep him or given another reason for another team to trade for him.
Jason Sanders is back to being the money man.
Sanders was impressive and looked as though he has returned to his 2020 form rather than last year off season. What was the difference? Could be the holder. In 2020 Matt Haack held for field goals and last year it was Michael Palardy. Needless to say, there was some talk during last year that the holding wasn’t up to what Sanders wanted.
On Saturday, it was Thomas Morstead holding and Sanders made all four field goals including two from 50 plus.
Benito Jones is a big man who may have made the roster last night.
It’s hard to guess when a player makes a roster and typically, preseason isn’t really it but for Benito Jones, his game last night showed he could be a reliable front defensive lineman that provides quality depth.
Jones played quite a bit and posted three tackles, two assists, and one tackle for a loss. He was a big body in the middle and did well stopping the Tampa run as well as helping collapse the pocket. He was on the field for 21 defensive snaps.
Austin Jackson didn’t play much but he played well when he was on the field.
It’s a good sign that Jackson played well, he gave up no QB pressure in the eight passing plays he was on the field for. Jackson wasn’t very good last year but it seems as though the coaching changes have really helped. He has moved back to right tackle instead of a guard and last night did well.
In fact, the entire right side, especially early in the game looked good in the first half. Robert Hunt didn’t play a lot but looked good when he did. Miami’s struggles were more on the left side where Larnel Coleman played left tackle with Armstead out. He didn’t have a good game.
BONUS: Solomon Kindley
During the game, I read a few on social media saying that Kindley wasn’t having a good night but I couldn’t quite figure out given the jumping around of the camera when he was in. ProFootballFocus pointed out that Kindley was in on 23 pass protection snaps on Saturday and didn’t give up a single pressure. If that is the case and it is something I will need to rewatch to see how he did in run protection, it is still a big step forward for a guy who was nonexistent in 2021.