The Miami Dolphins will visit the Houston Texans on a Thursday Night Football showdown tonight. Miami is 4-3 on the year, but after losing three of their last four, things feel a little shaky around the team. The Texans, meanwhile, are also 4-3, but have won their last four after losing their first three. Can Miami end Houston’s streak and get themselves back on track for a potential playoff berth?
If they are going to do it, here are five players (or four players and a position group) who need to come up big on Thursday:
Cameron Wake, defensive end - You could add Robert Quinn to this section as well. Basically, the Dolphins have to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and that needs to start tonight against Deshaun Watson. Adam Gase has said he is not worried about the sack totals, and it is the quarterback pressure he cares about, but Miami is not exactly dominating in that category either. They are getting near the quarterback this year, but they are not forcing him from his spot, hitting him, or bringing him down. They must do that tonight to give the secondary a chance.
Offensive line - The offensive line that shut down the Chicago Bears and opened up holes for Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake needs to be the offensive line that shows up this week against the Texans. The one that played last week against the Detroit Lions? That one needs to be no where to be found. Hopefully whatever scheme worked against the Bears, the Dolphins can replicate again this week and keep some linemen healthy as they get the running game started and protect the quarterback.
Brock Osweiler, quarterback - Of course Osweiler is still on the list. He has proven he is a capable backup quarterback, but we are getting dangerously close to him having enough starts to revert back to looking like the quarterback that the Texans paid the Cleveland Browns a second-round draft pick to take away. Will Osweiler show up the team that gave up on him, or will he show them what they could have had?
Xavien Howard, cornerback - Howard said of Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins this week, “Oh man. I was just watching the film this morning. I watched the Jaguars. I seen him. He likes to push off a lot. It’s about to get physical. He can make some helluva catches.” Hopkins responded asking “Who is Xavien Howard?” Now, it is time for Howard to make Hopkins learn his name. If Howard is truly going to be a shutdown cornerback - and he has played like one this year, and this could be the start of the cornerback attitude coming out of Howard - he can prove what he can do with a big game tonight.
DeVante Parker, wide receiver - Injuries and inconsistency have led to Parker routinely being inactive for games this year, to the point that his agent decided to put the Dolphins and Adam Gase on full blast this week. Parker defused the situation some, saying he wants to play with the Dolphins and does not have an issue, but it still will be a talking point. Now, the Dolphins have no choice but to rely on Parker as injuries continue to mount at the position. Parker needs to have a big game to prove that (a) he needs more playing time and (b) he is ready to be a Dolphins player the rest of the year and beyond.