The preseason is a time to work off the rust, incorporate new additions, and evaluate young players. It's a time of tuning up for the regular season. And it's a time you never want to see injuries. Unfortunately for the Miami Dolphins, the preseason did not cooperate on that last one during the team's 24-17 loss to the Houston Texans last night.
Instead, the Dolphins came out of the game with one of their top free agent acquisitions, tight end Dustin Keller, heading to the hospital for an MRI on a knee that will likely keep the former New York Jets player out for the year.
Late in the second quarter, the Dolphins were moving the ball down the field, when second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill looked to dump off a pass to Keller in the flat. As he went to make the reception, Texans cornerback D.J. Swearinger dove at Keller's knees, hitting the tight end helmet first in the joint. As Keller fell under the tackle, his upper body went one direction and his lower leg bent around Swearinger.
Keller was carted off the field in obvious pain. He was taken to the hospital for an MRI before the end of the game. No word has been released on the results of the tests.
The game was actually not that bad for the Dolphins, despite the loss. Tannehill finished the game 10-for-15 for 141 yards and a touchdown, giving him a 119.0 passer rating. Two of his five incompletions were drops, one by Lamar Miller and one from Brian Hartline, which would have been a second touchdown pass. Overall, Tannehill had a really nice game, and, while nothing was spectacular, nothing was bad either.
Before the Keller injury, the story of the game for the Dolphins would have been the connections between Tannehill and Mike Wallace, the wide receiver who Miami signed in free agency this year. Wallace had three receptions on the day, a 16 yarder for a first down, a 33 yard gain as Wallace flashed his speed and got behind the defense, and a nine-yard connection in the endzone.
With the Keller injury, the chemistry between Tannehill and Wallace just became even more critical.
On the ground, Daniel Thomas ran the ball hard, gaining 25 yards on four carries, a 6.3 yards per carry average. Jonas Gray also had four carries, totaling 14 yards. Starting running back Lamar Miller carried five times for just 10 yards, but found the endzone in the second quarter on a four yard run.
The offensive line was up and down all night, with Josh Samuda again struggling as the starting right guard. After losing the job following a bad game against the Jacksonville Jaguars a week ago, Samuda returned to the starting role after Nate Garner suffered a shoulder injury early in the week. After a strong training camp, Samuda seems to have fallen back down to Earth in the last two preseason games, and will likely return to his role as the primary backup for center Mike Pouncey.
The second string offensive line was fairly miserable throughout the game. While backup quarterback Matt Moore (3-for-11, 15 yards) was inaccurate throughout his stint in the game, a part of that could be blamed on the lack of protection from Miami's second string offensive line. Moore was sacked four times in about a half of work, and he simply never had a clean pocket in which to work.
The Miami first string defense was exactly what is expected of them. They were able to seemingly shut down the Texans' offense, and came away with several big plays, including a Brent Grimes interception on the third play of the game, and a Cameron Wake sack.
The Texans gained 415 yards on the night, but only 37 of those yards came against the defensive starters for Miami.
Two reserve defenders stood out, as Tristan Okpalaugo, who recorded a sack in his third straight game, and defensive tackle A.J. Francis who recorded two tackles, one for a loss, a pass defensed, and a quarterback hit.
It was not all good for the Dolphins' defenders however, as Will Davis was beat badly on a double move, leading to a Texans touchdown by Lestar Jean in the second quarter. Third year safety Jimmy Wilson was called for a personal foul for the second straight week, having been flagged, and fined, for a late hit against the Jacksonville Jaguars' Mike Kafka last week. This week, Wilson was called for taunting on a punt coverage, a penalty that offset an illegal bock by Houston.
The Dolphins next face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Saturday in Miami, the team's first home game of the preseason.