The Miami Dolphins played the third of their five preseason games over the weekend, losing 24-17 to the Houston Texans Saturday night. The game was once again a chance for the coaching staff to evaluate some of the key position battles on the roster, and possibly clear up some of the starting and reserve positions.
Without a doubt, the offensive line is starting to come together. Again, this is not going to be an offensive line filled with Hall of Famers, but it sure could be a solid line, capable of protecting Ryan Tannehill and opening up some nice rushing lanes. People seem to be realizing that Jonathan Martin is not as bad as they expected, and actually has been pretty good this preseason. The weak link is still right guard, though Josh Samuda was better this week than he was against the Jacksonville Jaguars and he got better as the game went on. The team is still looking for Lance Louis or John Jerry to step up, and into the starting lineup, but Samuda is clearly growing.
Lamar Miller is the starter, but he may not be as far ahead of Daniel Thomas as expected. Thomas is running hard in practice and in the games, and he is picking up blitzes really well right now. Of course, the fear of a fumble or another concussion is still there, but Thomas may be keeping this battle closer than anyone thought he would. Against the Texans, Thomas had a game high 6.3 yards per carry, gaining 25 yards on four carries. Miller came away with the lone rushing touchdown, but only gained 10 yards on his five carries.
Taking out Mike Wallace (3 receptions, 3 targets, 58 yards, 1TD), Brandon Gibson (2, 3, 31, 0), and Brian Hartline (0, 2, 0, 0), the Dolphins receivers broke down like this:
Julius Pruitt - 1 rec, 1, target, 9 yards
Marcus Thigpen - 1 rec, 1 target, 8 yards
Rishard Matthews - 1 rec, 4 targets, 7 yards
Marvin McNutt - 1 rec, 2 targets, 7 yards
Kenny Stafford - 0 rec, 1 target, 0 yards
Brian Tyms - 0 rec, 1 target, 0 yards
Chad Bumphis - 0 rec, 0 targets, 0 yards
Kennan Davis - 0 rec, 0 targets, 0 yards
Andrell Smith - 0 rec, 0 targets, 0 yards
The chance to grab a roster spot is right there in front of all of these guys. None of them are taking it at this point.
With the injury to Dustin Keller, suddenly tight end is a wide open position battle. Charles Clay is the most likely to claim the top spot, but Dion Sims and Michael Egnew could have an impact in the battle. Kyle Miller needs to get back into practice and into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game if he wants to be a part of this battle. CLay was not targeted in the game, and has been playing fullback more than tight end lately, while Sims was targeted twice with no receptions and Egnew was targeted three times with one reception for 14 yards.
The starting linebackers are set, but there is a fierce battle going on behind the top three. Jonathan Freeny has been the top performer so far, but was held to just one tackle on 14 snaps Saturday night. Austin Spitler and Jason Trusnik have not been great in the preseason, but they are solid players and could make the roster based on their special teams play. Lee Robinson and David Hinds have had good training camps and are playing well in the game, but are young and could miss the roster simply because of the players in front of them. Josh Kaddu and Jelani Jenkins have been invisible at this point. Every snap for all of these guys is important and should be evaluated closely.
What other battles are you watching? Who do you think will come out on top in these five?
More Dolphins Coverage:
- Who will step up in Dustin Keller's absence?
- Dolphins vs Texans: Miami Stock Up, Stock Down
- Keller: "I'm going to come back stronger, faster and better."
- Swearinger says NFL rules made him hit Keller low
- Positives and negatives for Miami from Texans loss
- Keller tears three ligaments, dislocates knee