The Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans are getting ready to face off in the Preseason's Week 2. Once again, the main story of the game will be the reserves, each trying to prove they are worthy of one of the 53 roster posts each team can carry into the regular season.
But, that does not mean there are not storylines to watch with the starters as well. This afternoon, we take a look at some of the matchups to watch this weekend, and how much we should take away from the successes or failures we see.
Dolphins Offensive Line vs. Texans Defensive Line/Outside Linebackers
Every week of training camp and the preseason so far, the number one storyline for the Dolphins has easily been the play of the offensive line. Will Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, Tyson Clabo, and the right guard de jour be able to find success and give quarterback Ryan Tannehill a chance to complete a pass? This week will end up being the team's toughest challenge of the preseason.
The Dolphins are going to face a defensive line and linebacker corps that features 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing. That alone would be tough. Add in the play of defensive end Antonio Smith, nose tackle Earl Mitchell, outside linebacker Brooks Reed, and, potentially, linebacker Whitney Mercilus, and the offensive line could have its hands full.
This week will also test the offensive line with something they have not yet seen, a 3-4 defensive front. Both the Dallas Cowboys and the Jacksonville Jaguars will use a 4-3 scheme this season, so a different look against the Dolphins' offensive line will just be another variable to solve this week in Houston.
Dolphins Secondary vs. Texans Wide Receivers
Andre Johnson is perennially among the best wide outs in the league. Now, he has a compliment in DeAndre Hopkins, the Clemson rookie and Houston first round pick in April's Draft. The Dolphins cornerbacks, led by Brent Grimes, Richard Marshall, and Dimitri Patterson are going to have their hands full. How will they react?
And, how will the team use them? Will each corner stay primarily on one side of the field, or will Grimes be matched up with Johnson, leaving Marshall or Patterson to cover Hopkins?
This will mark the first real test for the secondary, after not having to face Dez Bryant or Justin Blacmon in their first two games. Now, Johnson and Hopkins will give us a much better sense of exactly how good the cornerbacks can be this year.
Dolphins Wide Receivers vs. Texans Secondary
Watching the Dolphins wide receivers has a two-fold objective this weekend. First, seeing how the first team wide outs, and specifically Mike Wallace, are progressing and developing chemistry with Tannehill. How they do against the Texans' secondary will be an important part in that assessment, but it's more on the work between the receivers and the quarterback than anything Houston does.
However, the second objective absolutely involves the Texans. Behind Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Brandon Gibson, there is a wide open competition for the fourth, fifth, and possibly sixth receiver slot. Can Marvin McNutt show that the drops problem he has had lately should be overlooked? Will Chad Bumphis, who started off hot in training camp, but has started to cool as of late, be able to reinforce his position on the roster?
This game could be big for both the chemistry of the starters and the roster status of the depth players.