Last night, the Miami Dolphins took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first preseason game of the 2012 season for both teams. While getting the win feels good for the Buccaneers and their fans today, and the loss stung - a little too much for some fans, but that's another post - for the Dolphins, the game really wasn't about the "W" or the "L;" last night's game was about reps and getting a look at players against a different team. With that as the goal, the game clearly met the standard.
After each preseason game, we will take a look at three winners and three losers from the Dolphins roster.
- Ryan Tannehill - The rookie quarterback was clearly the big winner last night. After the David Garrard injury was announced, the team had to rearrange the plan for the men behind center. Matt Moore was moved into the starter role, playing two series, which worked out to be the first quarter. Then, Tannehill took over, playing the second and third periods. And, he did not disappoint. The eighth overall pick of the draft finished the game 14-for-21, for 167 yards, and a touchdown. He looked sharp. He looked poised. He looked good. It was the performance the Dolphins, and their fans, needed to see from Tannehil. It was a performance that led Greg Rosenthal of NFL.com to write "Ryan Tannehill was the NFL story of the night."
- Chad Johnson - Johnson needs to give up on this self-exile from media appearances, and he needs to give up on it fast. After last week's episode of HBO's Hard Knocks, which featured a scene with head coach Joe Philbin telling Johnson he needs to cool it with dropping "f-bombs," Johnson declared he will no longer speak to the media. He then went out to practice on Wednesday and, reportedly, dropped multiple passes, eventually kicking a ball in frustration. Then, last night, Johnson was targeted one time, letting the ball fly straight through his hands on third dow, killing Matt Moore's best drive. If Johnson does not get out of this funk quickly, he could find himself having a season just like last year's in New England.
- Vontae Davis - This week has been a crazy one for cornerback Davis. First, the depth chart was released on Monday, putting Davis behind Richard Marshall at cornerback, with Davis losing his starting role. Then, Hard Knocks showed Davis as out of shape and unfocused, with coaches trying to find a way to get through to the 2009 first round draft pick. Last night, Davis officially lost his starting position, as Marshall took the first defensive snaps, with Davis coming in to play the boundary as Marshall moved inside in nickel situations. When he did get into the game, Davis did not help himself, continuing to look slow and out of position.
- Brian Hartline - Hartline did not even play this week, and still he lost. Every day that the wide receiver cannot play, either in practice or in preseason games, will be a loss for Hartline. Coming into training camp, Hartline was the presumed number one wide receiver. However, he has not taken part in a single day of training camp, instead working to rehab a nagging calf injury. Hartline's roster spot is probably secure, but with the crowd at wide receiver the team has, his position on the depth chart could continue to fall as others look good and round into regular season shape.