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Dolphins defeat Saints 14-10: The Headlines

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Well it's only the preseason, but it's nice to go on a 3 game winning streak isn't it?  If nothing else, it gets the players to buy into what Tony Sparano and company are feeding them.

And before we get to the headlines from this game, a quick thanks to all who participated in the live game thread.  Over 400 comments for the final preseason game is impressive.  And I especially want to highlight "Rzayo24" for his community-leading 88 comments.  "JWillis9" and "DaMiamiDolphinz" each also had over 50 comments.

Now onto the headlines:

DEFENSE PLAYING WITH FIRE
While it's true that the Dolphins defense mostly played against the Saints' backups, you still can't help but get excited over this unit.  And I'm not talking about the 99 yards of total offense they held the Saints to.  That means nothing.  What is impressive is the fire and passion these guys are playing with.  They are flying all over the field and making plays with an intensity that seemed to be missing all of last season.

The run defense, in particular, deserves to be highlighted.  They held Deuce McAllister to just 30 yards on 11 carries.  And those 2 plays from the 2 yard line - keeping New Orleans out of the endzone on the ground - was a thing of beauty.  Vonnie Holliday and Akin Ayodele were the key players in those 2 plays.

And speaking of Ayodele, he was all over the place last night.  He was making stops in the ground game and even read a screen pass early on in the game to drop the back for a loss of 5.  What an addition he is going to be to this defense.  Akin ended the game with 7 tackles, 6 of them being solos.

The pass rush was also impressive.  Yet again, Matt Roth continues to get pressure on the QB.  I'll admit I was totally wrong for writing this guy off.  He has just now finally found a coaching staff that knows how to use him effectively.

One final note on the defense.  About this "flywheel" celebration they do.  Some people are quick to criticize the celebration.  But who cares?  These guys are full of energy and having fun.  So why not let them celebrate with a celebration that actually highlights the team rather than just themselves?  It's a unity thing - with the idea stemming from defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni.  And there's a great idea behind the celebration: it's a crank that slowly starts an engine to a car (back in the day, I'm told).  And once the "flywheel" gets going, it picks up steam and builds up momentum.  Great idea and I personally am all for the celebration.

RONNIE LOOKING GOOD
Ronnie Brown, in his first extensive action since the ACL tear (and thumb sprain), looked very good.  He looked like "classic Ronnie" - slow to start but then turns it on.  He ran very hard, with a mean streak it seemed at times.  He showed good burst and even made a few cuts - with one in particular coming to mind.  So far, he hasn't shown any ill-effects from the knee injury - either mentally or physically.  But after getting 14 touches, the key will be how his knee feels over the next couple of days.  If it responds well, then we should all be encouraged that this injury is behind him.

The one-two punch of Ricky and Ronnie is going to be fun to watch all year.

HENNE SHOWS HE "HAS BALLS"
Things got off to a shaky start for Chad Henne.  The young rookie lost a fumble on his first drive that resulted in a Saints TD.  Then he took another sack on the next possession on a 3rd down play to quickly end that possession.  However, he bounced back - showing that mental toughness we've heard so much about.  He led the Dolphins down the field on 2 consecutive TD drives to put Miami ahead for good.

In the process, he looked damn good at times.  He converted a 3rd and 4 by moving around as the pocket collapsed - but keeping his head up - to flip the ball to Greg Camarillo to convert and keep the drive moving.  And his best throw of the night was the TD pass to Sean Ryan.  He rolled out and made a perfect throw on the move to Ryan in the back of the endzone - placing the ball right over the head of a defender who was right in front of Ryan. 

The one negative, though, was the interception.  His inexperience showed, as he locked onto Anthony Armstrong and threw it right to the defender who saw it coming a mile away.  He should have never thrown that ball.  But all in all, a successful final preseason game for Henne.

RECEIVER TALK
Let me start this by saying I don't know what, if anything, was up with Ted Ginn.  If anyone can shed some light on it, much appreciated.  I don't think I saw him out there at all tonight.  And if he was, he came out when Chad Pennington came out - after the 2nd possession.  I did see him later on the sidelines wearing a baseball cap.  I guess the staff already knows enough about him - and possibly didn't want to show off any of what they have in store for Ginn this season.

As for the rest, Ernest Wilford saved his roster spot tonight.  He mad two very good catches, one of which was in traffic.  His size will generate a lot of mismatches against smaller corners.  So he has value to this team despite the disappointing camp he had.

Derek Hagan, though, continues to practice better than he plays.  He had one bad drop that hit him in the hands.  The other pass flew right by him before he really turned around.  And to top it off, he was called for an offsides penalty.  He worries me as a starter.

Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo both locked up their roster spots as well tonight.  Bess only had one catch, but it was on a 3rd down and he turned it into a 20 yard gain.  He also looked fairly decent as a punt returner - as long as he doesn't fumble.  He's quick and shifty - which makes up for his lack of long speed.

Camarillo had 3 catches - 2 of which were 3rd down conversions.  These are the kinds of players this team needs.  Ones that will get open in key situations and catch the ball consistently.  That's why both make this team.

TIGHT ENDS TOO CLOSE TO CALL
I'm having a hard time deciding which of the two tight ends on the bubble - Sean Ryan and Justin Peelle - will make this team.  Ryan had a very nice grab for a TD on Henne's beautifully thrown ball.  He's also reportedly the better blocker.  But Peelle got involved even more in the passing game.  This is one decision that will be very tough for the coaching staff.

QUICK HITS
-The offensive line had their good moments and bad moments.  But all in all, I like how the starting unit is coming together.

-What's going to happen at QB?  Can Josh McCown really make this team despite not taking a game snap since August 9?  Will this regime really go with two young, inexperienced QBs behind Pennington?  I really don't know how this will play out.

-The battle at RB is interesting as well.  Cobbs isn't cut out as a kick returner.  But he's very good in kick coverage.  Hilliard, though, impressed me tonight with tough running.  What do you guys think here?

That's all for now.  The cuts will soon follow over the next 36 hours.  Should be interesting.

Your thoughts below...