Ahead of the Miami Dolphins' Preseason Week 2 game against the Carolina Panthers, we identified three key positions to watch. Now that the game is over, a game the Dolphins led early with their starters but ultimately lost late after failing to take the lead on a two-point conversion that gave Carolina the 31-30 win, we take a look back at those three key positions.
Before the game, we looked at the back up defensive tackles, the guys who will likely play behind Ndamukong Suh and Earl Mitchell this year. C.J. Mosley, A.J. Francis, Anthony Johnson, Jordan Phillips, Deandre Coleman, and Calvin Barnett all need to claim their spot on the roster with noteworthy performances, particularly in last night's game. Francis played well last night, tallying two tackles, both for a loss, along with a sack and another quarterback hit. When he was on the field, Francis appeared to be constantly moving and looking like a solid option for the defensive tackle rotation. The rest of the group played in the game, but did not immediately stand out.
The offensive line was not as solid against the Panthers as it was against the Chicago Bears in Preseason Week 1. Add in a concussion for left tackle Jason Fox - while the team is waiting for Branden Albert to get fully healthy - and the offensive line may have more questions now than it did before the game. Dallas Thomas was not really noticed during the game, which is a good thing. Billy Turner was run through a couple of times, but quarterback Ryan Tannehill seemed to be able to step away from the pressure. Tannehill was sacked once, but that was allowed by tight end Dion Sims, and luckily Tannehill was able to fall on the ball after it was stripped from him. The backup linemen continued to struggle, though they did seem to find a rhythm eventually.
After losing starting safety Louis Delmas to a torn ACL earlier in the week, the safety position suddenly became a concern for Miami this week. Walt Aikens started in Delmas' spot next to Reshad Jones and had an up-and-down day. He seemed out of position a few times in zone coverage, but was able to calm down and his play became more solid. Michael Thomas, who is battling Aikens for that starting position, finished the game with tied in tackles with AIkens (4), but also had moments where he took the wrong angle on a play or was not in the right spot to make the play. Both Aikens and Thomas need time to mature into the starting position.