The Miami Dolphins played their second preseason game of the year over the weekend, losing under the Friday night lights to the Carolina Panthers. While wins always feel good, and losses always sting, the preseason is more about getting the team in rhythm, developing players, and getting through the game healthy and ready for the regular season.
During the regular season, we like to track the snap counts for each player in each game, as well as the total snap count of the player for the season. During the preseason, those snap counts could be even more important, as we can see who is getting to play and who is not. Could coaches be already looking toward the 53-man roster cuts, trying to see exactly who will perform during a game if needed?
Here is the breakdown of snaps played, on offense, defense, and special teams, for the Dolphins from the Panthers game:
- Ryan Tannehill - 32 snaps (46%)
- Brock Osweiler - 18 snaps (26%)
- David Fales - 12 snaps (17%)
- Bryce Petty - 8 snaps (11%)
Tannehill got more playing time this week than in the first preseason game, and he looked pretty sharp. There is still some rust there, and the offense, while it moves easily down the field, needs to prove it can get into the end zone - even if head coach Adam Gase is purposely not running some of their red zone offense right now. It felt like Osweiler got a lot more of the playing time in this game compared to Fales, but it was not that lopsided - and neither backup has locked down the position battle yet. Petty may need to start seeing some second-team snaps if the other two cannot find their respective grooves.
- Kenyan Drake - 26 snaps (37%)
- Senorise Perry - 22 snaps (31%) | ST: 3 snaps (11%)
- Buddy Howell - 13 snaps (19%) | ST: 8 snaps (29%)
- Jeremy Langford - 9 snaps (13%)
Drake got in the game, quickly picked up 54 yards on eight carries, then was gone with the rest of the first-team offense. Ballage’s head injury sidelined him, which led to Perry being the second running back, followed by Howell and Langford. No one really stood out in this game. Howell’s special teams snap count could signal the team is looking at him hard for inclusion on the roster in a special teams role.
- Mike Matthews, center - 38 snaps (54%) | ST: 1 snap (4%)
- Zach Sterup, tackle - 37 snaps (53%) | ST: 4 snaps (14%)
- Isaac Asiata, guard - 35 snaps (50%) | ST: 4 snaps (14%)
- Josh Sitton, guard - 33 snaps (47%)
- Jesse Davis, guard - 32 snaps (46%) | ST: 4 snaps (14%)
- Laremy Tunsil, tackle - 32 snaps (46%)
- Ja’Wuan James, tackle - 32 snaps (46%)
- Daniel Kilgore, center - 32 snaps (46%)
- Sam Young, tackle - 22 snaps (31%) | ST: 3 snaps (11%)
- Ted Larsen, guard - 21 snaps (30%)
- Connor Hilland, center - 12 snaps (17%) | ST: 1 snap (4%)
- Eric Smith, tackle - 9 snaps (13%) | ST: 3 snaps (11%)
- David Steinmetz, tackle - 8 snaps (11%) | ST: 4 snaps (14%)
- Roubbens Joseph, tackle - 8 snaps (11%)
The biggest change on the offensive line was just the starters playing more snaps, which cut down on some of the other players (Joseph, Hilland, Smith). Smith’s drop from 73 percent of the game played in PS Week 1 to just 13 percent this week is probably not a great sign for his chances of making the roster, given players like Larsen and Young, presumed locks for the roster, still played more than he did. Matthews, Sterup, and Asiata continuing to see half the available snaps likely means the team sees them as developmental players and they could be destined for a spot on the roster, or a practice squad position at worst.
- Mike Gesicki - 25 snaps (36%)
- Durham Smythe - 21 snaps (30%) | ST: 8 snaps (29%)
- A.J. Derby - 16 snaps (23%) | ST: 10 snaps (36%)
- Gavin Escobar - 11 snaps (16%) | ST: 17 snaps (61%)
- Thomas Duarte - 11 snaps (16%) | ST: 5 snaps (18%)
The Dolphins seem to be trying to walk the fine line between getting Gesicki playing time and making sure he is not hurt during the preseason. He did play 25 snaps, but one of the biggest criticisms of the team this week is that he was never targeted in the passing game. Part of that is likely the play calling being vanilla, with head coach Adam Gase trying not to give away anything in the preseason, as well as the team wanting to use Gesicki as a blocker more in the preseason than he will likely be asked to do it in the regular season. At this point, Gesicki appears to be the starter, and rightfully so, with Gray, who is in the concussion protocol, the second tight end, then Smythe and Derby. Escobar did not see a lot of offensive playing time, but was in on special teams plays a lot; the Dolphins could be looking to see how he contributes there in their ultimate decision of what to do with him. Similar situation for Duarte.
- Albert Wilson - 32 snaps (46%)
- Jakeem Grant - 31 snaps (44%) | ST: 2 snaps (7%)
- Danny Amendola - 28 snaps (40%)
- Leonte Carroo - 21 snaps (30%) | ST: 13 snaps (46%)
- Rashawn Scott - 21 snaps (30%) | ST: 5 snaps (18%)
- Malcolm Lewis - 17 snaps (24%) | ST: 4 snaps (14%)
- Francis Owusu - 16 snaps (23%) | ST: 10 snaps (36%)
- Isaiah Ford - 16 snaps (23%)
- Drew Morgan - 13 snaps (19%) | ST: 6 snaps (21%)
The receivers are another reason fans were frustrated during Friday’s game, but it really was not an issue. There were complaints that Miami was not looking deep, especially on long-yardage situations, but the Dolphins were also playing without their top two receivers. Sure, the players who started need to be prepared for the regular season, but it also limited the Dolphins’ options with the first team, especially when you consider the receivers were all around 5-foot-10. Wilson, Grant, and Amendola will all contribute this year, but the offense definitely missed Stills and Parker. Carroo got a long look on both offense and special teams, so the coaches are giving him the chance to prove he should make the roster. Ford with no special teams snaps was interesting.
- Charles Harris - 25 snaps (37%) | ST: 1 snap (4%)
- Andre Branch - 21 snaps (31%)
- Cameron Malveaux - 17 snaps (25%) | ST: 5 snaps (18%)
- Jonathan Woodard - 17 snaps (25%) | ST: 4 snaps (14%)
- Quincy Redmon - 16 snaps (24%) | ST: 4 snaps (14%)
- Claudy Mathieu - 16 snaps (24%) | ST: 3 snaps (11%)
- Cameron Wake - 16 snaps (24%)
- Robert Quinn - 13 snaps (19%)
Wake and Quinn made an impact with their short appearances, including Quinn’s two sacks. Branch and Harris will be a great second-line for the defense. Malveaux is probably the bubble player right now, but the rest of the group all played similar snap counts on both defense and special teams, so if Miami keeps five defensive ends, it is probably a pretty close battle.
- Anthony Moten - 29 snaps (43%) | ST: 3 snaps (11%)
- Vincent Taylor - 20 snaps (30%) | ST: 1 snap (4%)
- Kendall Langford - 19 snaps (28%)
- Akeem Spence - 18 snaps (27%)
- Davon Godchaux - 12 snaps (18%)
This could be the biggest complaint from this game, especially when Ndamukong Suh weighed in on Instagram about a 71-yard run from Christian McCaffery. The defensive tackles are allowing runs up the middle, which they need to fix, but it is not like Suh’s presence last year when the Panthers rushed for nearly 300 yards against Miami made a huge difference. The team probably did miss Phillips, who has a shoulder injury, and Langford is adjusting to being back in Miami.
- Chase Allen - 36 snaps (54%) | ST: 3 snaps (11%)
- Stephone Anthony - 29 snaps (43%) | ST: 12 snaps (43%)
- Terence Garvin - 25 snaps (37%) | ST: 16 snaps (57%)
- Jerome Baker - 25 snaps (37%) | ST: 1 snap (4%)
- Raekwon McMillan - 24 snaps (36%)
- Kiko Alonso - 24 snaps (36%)
- Quentin Poling - 7 snaps (10%) | ST: 12 snaps (43%)
The biggest item with the linebackers is probably just Baker being in the starting lineup this week. There were some good plays from the group, and there were times they were out of position. Everyone played about even snap counts, other than Poling, with Allen playing a little more than half the game and most everyone else around 40 percent. The special teams snap counts could signal who the team is looking at for depth at the position group, with Garvin, Anthony, and Poling in that mix.
- Cordrea Tankersley - 36 snaps (54%) | ST: 7 snaps (26%)
- Jordan Lucas - 35 snaps (52%) | ST: 15 snaps (54%)
- Torry McTyer - 27 snaps (40%) | ST: 9 snaps (32%)
- Xavien Howard - 24 snaps (36%)
- Bobby McCain - 24 snaps (36%)
- Minkah Fitzpatrick - 17 snaps (25%)
- Cornell Armstrong - 16 snaps (24%) | ST: 10 snaps (36%)
- Jalen Davis - 14 snaps (21%) | ST: 2 snaps (7%)
- Taveze Calhoun - 7 snaps (10%) | ST: 10 snaps (36%)
- Walt Aikens - 4 snaps (6%) | ST: 7 snaps (25%)
The biggest position battle on the team - even more pressing than the backup quarterback battle - is the cornerback spot, where the team still does not know how they will settle on the starting group. Howard clearly has the top spot, but behind him, it is a mess with no one taking control. McCain slid out to the boundary this week, with Fitzpatrick becoming the nickel cornerback. That is not how the Dolphins would like the position to be manned, with Tankersley, McTyer, and Lippett all expected to be in the battle. Lucas and Aikens continue to be listed as cornerbacks but are really defensive backs able to play safety or cornerback, and are special teams players.
- Maurice Smith - 43 snaps (64%) | ST: 11 snaps (39%)
- T.J. McDonald - 24 snaps (36%)
- Reshad Jones - 24 snaps (36%)
- Trae Elston - 4 snaps (6%) | ST: 8 snaps (29%)
Jones and McDonald should be the starters, with Fitzpatrick the third safety. Smith probably makes the team as a depth option. Elston’s low snap count could be a bad sign for him.
- Matt Haack - ST: 9 snaps (32%)
- Jason Sanders - ST: 6 snaps (21%)
- Greg Joseph - ST: 4 snaps (14%)
The kicking battle continues to be about even.
- Lucas Gravelle - ST: 5 snaps (18%)
- John Denney - ST: 4 snaps (14%)
Denney should continue to man the position he has held since the Jefferson administration, but Gravelle has not played poorly in giving the veteran some rest.
- Frank Ginda, linebacker - ST: 6 snaps (21%)
- Johnathan Alston, cornerback - ST: 5 snaps (18%)
- Cayson Collins, linebacker - ST: 5 snaps (18%)
- Brandon Radcliff, running back - ST: 5 snaps (18%)
Playing only a few special teams snaps in a preseason game is not a good sign for your chances of making the roster.
Did not play
Kalen Ballage, running back
Jake Brendel, center
Frank Gore, running back
MarQueis Gray, tight end
William Hayes, defensive end
Mike Hull, linebacker
Tony Lippett, cornerback
Kenny Stills, wide receiver
DeVante Parker, wide receiver
Jordan Phillips, defensive tackle
The Dolphins have some banged up players, though nothing seems to be major at this point - assuming the concussions for Ballage and Gray are not bad. Parker’s finger may be the biggest concern as it heals from the receiver breaking it when it got caught in a pair of shoulder pads during practice.