Dolphins Preseason News and Notes
More often than not, preseason statistics are completely meaningless. Coaches rarely reveal their game-plans, test out new and sometimes faulty plays, and most importantly, give rookies and fringe players a chance to solidify their roles or make the final roster. It’s no surprise then, that through two games, the NFL passing, rushing and receiving yards leaders are Stephen McGee, Stevan Ridley and Chastin West, respectively, while Michael Vick has thrown three interceptions en route to posting a 50.7 QB rating.
With that in mind, the Miami Dolphins have yet to officially name a starting quarterback, have two new running backs to integrate into the offense, and no less than three players vying for the fifth and likely final wide receiver spot. Let’s take a look at how the position battles have gone so far.
- After a poor preseason opener (4-of-8 passing for 77 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions) against the Atlanta Falcons, Chad Henne looked better against the Carolina Panthers (who doesn’t?) in the second contest, completing 15-of-24 passes for 194 yards with no turnovers. His biggest problem so far has come with the deep ball, as he has continued to miss open receivers downfield.
- Even though Matt Moore outplayed Henne in the opener (11-of-18 passing for 123 yards and two TDs) and has posted a higher QB rating two games, Coach Tony Sparano has so far made it clear there is no competition for the starting quarterback job. Moore hasn’t played with the first-team offense in the preseason at all, indicating he will enter the season as the primary backup, barring a couple of disastrous outings from Henne.
- The battle for the third quarterback spot is shaping up to be epic: Pat Devlin is 0-of-2 with two sacks in clean-up duty, while Kevin O’Connell has more kneel-downs (two) than pass attempts (0).
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- Playing one half, Reggie Bush had eight carries for 48 yards and caught two passes for 33 yards in his Dolphins debut on Friday. Early reports indicated the coaching staff planned to give Bush, who averaged only nine touches per game over the last two years with the New Orleans Saints, a heavy workload on offense without using him as a punt returner, and so far, the RB looked quicker and more exciting than any RB the Dolphins have had in years.
- Daniel Thomas has sported an unimpressive 3.6 yards per carry average, busting out just one run of 10 yards. Expected to be a power-back capable of breaking tackles and moving the pile, he couldn’t get into the endzone on two carries inside the five-yard line early against the Panthers (Lex Hilliard scored on the next play). Thomas did have a four-yard TD run in the second quarter, and while he’ll need time to get used to the NFL, his workload should increase as the season progresses.
- Hilliard all but solidified his hold on the number three RB job after scoring at the goal line, while Kory Sheets managed only 43 yards on a team-high 17 carries against second-stringers.
- The Dolphins released Sheets on Tuesday and unexpectedly signed veteran Larry Johnson, who hasn’t played a down in the NFL since Week 2 of last season with the Washington Redskins. Johnson had five carries for two yards in 2010 and a terrible 3.2 YPC in 2009; at age 31, he makes little sense for Miami.
- Undrafted rookie Nic Grigsby hasn’t done much (2.1 YPC) to suggest he’s in the team’s immediate future.
- Concerns over Brandon Marshall‘s health were alleviated after he caught five passes for 46 yards in one half on Friday. He has reportedly tried to establish a better relationship with Henne, and looks prime to break O.J. McDuffie’s team record for receptions (90), considering Marshall racked up 86 catches in 14 up-and-down games last season.
- Davone Bess will work out of the slot and should catch between 70-80 passes (he leads the team with seven receptions in two games), while also serving as the team’s primary punt returner.
- Brian Hartline is fully recovered from a finger injury that cost him four games last season, and should return to being the team’s main downfield deep threat. He picked up right where he left off, catching a 44-yard TD from Henne in the opener.
- Roberto Wallace leads the team with 60 receiving yards, 28 of which came on a TD catch from Matt Moore in against the Falcons. After catching just six passes for 62 yards all of last season, Wallace could be used in more four-WR sets as another deep threat in 2011.
- Third-round draft pick Clyde Gates is all-but-assured a final roster spot, and caught a nice six-yard TD against Atlanta.
- Presuming the Dolphins carry five WRs on the roster, that would leave Marlon Moore, who has three catches for 39 yards, and undrafted rookie Phillip Livas, who had a 75-yard punt return TD in the opener, on the chopping block.
- Anthony Fasano is the Dolphins starting TE and Mickey Shuler, who is currently out with a foot injury, should return as the primary backup.
- Sixth-round pick Charles Clay could see some action at TE later in the year, though he’s expected to be used as an H-back and fullback. Nothing more to see here.
Tags: anthony fasano, brandon marshall, Brian Hartline, chad henne, Charles Clay, Clyde Gates, Daniel Thomas, Davone Bess, Dedrick Epps, Jeron Mastrud, Kevin O'Connell, Kory Sheets, Larry Johnson, Lex Hilliard, Marlon Moore, Matt Moore, miami dolphins, Nic Grigsby, Pat Devlin, Patrick Carter, Phillip Livas, Preseason, Reggie Bush, Robert Wallace