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Dolphins defense led by first-year linebacker Sam Eguavoen against Buccaneers

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NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins’ defense was impressive - especially considering the starters who were not playing - through most of the team’s 16-14 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night. While the game felt really slow all night - at least up until the last few minutes - Miami’s defense, while not perfect, was the highlight of the game, with pressure being created and players constantly crashing to the ball. Jerome Baker continues to look like a beast at linebacker, but it was another starter at linebacker that was the real story of the game.

First-year player Sam Eguavoen constantly made plays on the night. “Just playing fearless,” Eguavoen said after the game. “That’s one thing (Head Coach Brian Flores) pointed out to me on my film. He knows I’m a good player. It’s just that I need to unleash the beast. I need to play fearless out there. I had my first NFL game ever last week, so coming into this week I just wrote on my walls – just play fearless. It’s football. There’s 11 people out there, so I have 10 other defenders who have my back, so I’m taking my shots.”

He definitely took his shots. He finished the game with seven tackles, two for a loss, and a forced fumble. On the fumble, which was recovered by cornerback Eric Rowe, Eguavoen stated, “I knew we needed to get off the field. I didn’t know I was going to get a forced fumble. I just had a clean shot on the running back coming into the flat, wrapped him up and he was carrying the ball poorly, so it came out and Rowe was their to scoop it up.”

Eguavoen also recorded a tackle on special teams.

The Dolphins signed Eguavoen this offseason after he spent three years playing in the Candaian Football League for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He played collegiate football at Texas Tech, but was undrafted in 2015.

Miami has a history of finding stud defensive players after they develop in the CFL. Defensive end Cameron Wake, now playing for the Tennessee Titans, was a CFL product after failing to make the New York Giants roster as an undrafted free agent linebacker out of Penn State in 2005. He played for Miami from 2009 through 2018, recording 98 career sacks, 358 tackles, one interception, 15 passes defensed, 22 forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. He was selected to five Pro Bowls during his time with Miami, and was a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2012.

Can Eguavoen be the next CFL product to start for the Dolphins?

He played 48 snaps during the contest, the most of any defender, along with 12 on special teams. Miami got their money’s worth from Eguavoen during the game, and he did not disappoint. The team had been playing him with Baker and the first team defense at times during training camp, and he showed why on Friday.

Eguavoen is clearly on the Miami roster when cuts come at the end of the regular season. At this point, he looks like he is not only making the team, but should be starting for them in Week 1.