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Raiders at Dolphins: What to watch for Miami

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders will visit the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, with kickoff scheduled for 1pm Eastern. Can the Dolphins move to 3-0 on the season and head into a Week 4 matchup with the New England Patriots undefeated? Will the Raiders, who are winless in 2018 still, put up a tough enough fight to knock Miami down a peg?

Who has to shine for the Dolphins to win the game? Who needs to step up? This evening, we look at five Dolphins players to watch in this game.

Laremy Tunsil, offensive tackle

The Dolphins are high on Tunsil right now, especially in his pass protection, and the team needs him to continue to keep performing this week. The Raiders have struggled to generate a pass rush this year, and Tunsil should be able to shut down anything coming off the left side of the offense, but he is still needing to find his chemistry with Ted Larsen at left guard. If Tunsil can work one-on-one on Ryan Tannehill’s blindside, it absolutely assists the other four offensive linemen throughout the game.

Xavien Howard, cornerback

The Dolphins’ top cornerback has been asked to work primarily on one side of the defense so far this year. If the Dolphins can mirror Howard on Amari Cooper, they could basically shut down the Raiders’ wide receivers. Cooper has 11 receptions this year for 125 yards. Jalen Richards has nine receptions, for just 55 yards. That is quite a gap between the two.

? vs. Jared Cook, tight end

This will probably not be one player, but whomever is covering Cook had better be on top of his game. While Cooper is the top wide receiver for the Raiders, Cook is the top receiving threat, having already caught 13 passes for 229 yards. Miami has options with how they cover Cook, from linebacker Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan (and Jerome Baker?), to safety T.J. McDonald, to (the right answer) cornerback/safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, so they can find who will work best and just keep him on Cook all game.

Kenyan Drake, running back

The Raiders are allowing the second most rushing yards per game this year, giving up 154.0 on average. The Denver Broncos put up 168 yards on the ground last week. Miami needs to see that kind of production from Drake (and Frank Gore and Ryan Tannehill). Drake has 101 yards rushing this year with one touchdown - it is time for him to explode.

DeVante Parker, wide receiver

It feels like Parker will be back in the lineup this week after missing the team’s first two regular season games with a broken finger. If he is playing the Dolphins need him to prove he is the player they need as the number one wide receiver. They need him to fight for the ball, threaten the intermediate levels, and give defenses someone to think about other than Kenny Stills, Jakeem Grant, Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson, and Mike Gesicki. Getting Parker the ball early and often could gain him some confidence and get the offense rolling.