The Miami Dolphins lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, dropping their opening preseason game of the season. While the game does not mean anything in terms of wins and losses in the regular season or playoff positioning, it does mean a lot to the players on the field, either in terms of getting ready for the regular season or putting performances on tape that will make the coaching staff consider a roster spot for the player.
While the Dolphins are now getting back to training camp and preparations for next week’s game against the Carolina Panthers. But, who is riding high after the Buccaneers game and who saw their performances hurt their stock?
Jerome Baker, linebacker - The rookie is currently listed as a second team outside linebacker, but he saw playing time with the first team on Thursday, then continued to play with the second team. He was fast and played with great instincts. He played next to Raekwon McMillan, as he did when they were both at Ohio State, and it looked like the two of them worked well together. Baker had a team high five tackles during the game.
David Fales, quarterback - The battle for the backup quarterback spot is expected to last all preseason, which will be good for Brock Osweiler because Fales looked like the right choice for the team’s backup after one game. Fales finished the game 8-for-11 for 115 cards and a 106.3 passer rating. The offense looked fluid with him under center, and he seemed to be comfortable throwing to any of the receivers on the field.
Kalen Ballage and Senorise Perry, running back - Really, Buddy Howell could also be added to this listing as the Dolphins running backs all looked strong. Kenyan Drake had three carries for 16 yards before leaving the game and letting the rest of the group shine. Ballage picked up 37 yards on ten carries, which left him with just a 3.7 yards per carry average, but he also picked up 23 yards on three receptions and appeared to be exactly what the Dolphins need in a third-string runner (behind Drake and Frank Gore, who did not appear in this game). He fumbled when he tried to leap a defender and knocked the ball out of his own hands with his knee, which keeps him from being our top stock up player, but it was a rookie mistake from a rookie trying to make a play and he will learn from it. Perry pieced up 35 yards with a touchdown on four carries, plus had two receptions for ten yards. Howell added 25 yards on four carries with one catch for 18 yards. It was the first preseason game, but the Dolphins running backs looked really good on Thursday.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety - The Dolphins’ first-round pick this year looked like the player the team needs him to be and wanted when they drafted him. He played fast and he played in multiple ways, with the two main highlights coming as he broke up a pass as a free safety, then turned around and broke up a pass like a linebacker. (Mike Gesicki is not on this list, but deserves to be noted. The team’s second-round pick looked good, ran clean routes, and showed his athleticism, even if poorly placed balls could not be caught.)
Jonathan Woodard, defensive end - Was effective getting after the quarterback on Thursday, disrupting Jameis Winston, as well as being a factor against the run. He had four tackles including one for a loss. Playing at a deep position with several veterans set on the roster already, a performance like Thursday was important for Woodard.
Vincent Taylor and Jordan Phillips, defensive tackle - The Dolphins defensive tackles were actually pretty active on Thursday, even though there was some running room around them at times. Taylor led the way in that group, recording two tackles and a sack. His sack was cleaning up from pressure caused when Phillips blew up the line of scrimmage.
Brock Osweiler, quarterback - The Dolphins’ backup quarterback competition could be a run-away win for Fales if Osweiler continues to look like he did on Thursday. Where Fales was able to come in and move the offense, Osweiler struggled to find a rhythm and had way too many passes deflected. Osweiler was 10-for-21 for 83 yards, giving him a 58.2 passer rating, despite being the quarterback who played the most snaps on Thursday. He just never looked comfortable.
The cornerbacks - The Buccaneers were able to pass the ball early and often in the game, and no corner seemed to be able to stop it. Xavien Howard has been a shut down guy all training camp, but was immediately targeted in this game. Cordrea Tankersley and Torry McTyer did not grab control of the position battle for the second starting position. Tony Lippett did not play, so there is a chance he could come back and claim that spot.
Davon Godchaux, defensive tackle - Above I said the defensive tackles actually played well on Thursday. Godchaux was solid but not spectacular, which compared to the other defensive tackles, hurts his stock. He has been pushed into the starter’s role next to Akeem Spence and over Phillips, but Phillips is outplaying him right now.
Leonte Carroo, wide receiver - The disappointment with Carroo continues. His biggest issue is he simply cannot create separation. He was targeted once, but the pass was broken up. Other than that, he was non-existent in the offense despite playing 35 percent of the snaps. For a player who is, at best, battling for a sixth wide receiver slot, he seems to have been passed on the depth chart by a number of other receivers.