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Eagles vs. Dolphins preseason 2022: What to watch for Miami

Las Vegas Raiders v Miami Dolphins Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The 2022 preseason comes to an end tonight for the Miami Dolphins. Tonight marks the last chance for bubble players to make an impact and force the coaching staff and front office to reevaluate how they are planning to build the regular season roster. Tuesday’s roster limit change, moving the size of teams from 80 to 53, is looming large. Can anyone force their way onto the roster tonight?

The starters for both the Dolphins and tonight’s opponents, the Philadelphia Eagles, are likely to see limited playing time if they appear in the game at all. Tonight is about staying healthy for the regular season and seeing the depth players in game action one more time. What should we be watching for tonight for the Dolphins?

Will Myles Gaskin or Salvon Ahmed force their way onto the roster?

The Dolphins have three veteran running backs new to the team this year, and all three appear set to make the roster. Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert will be a two-headed monster at the top of the depth chart with Sony Michel behind them as a third-down type of running back. Add in fullback Alec Ingold, and the Dolphins could look to save a roster spot by limiting the running backs on the roster. A strong performance from either Myles Gaskin or Salvon Ahmed tonight could force the team to keep an additional player at the position.

Which cornerback steps up?

Miami’s cornerbacks group has struggled to stay healthy this summer, exposing how shallow the roster is behind Xavien Howard. Byron Jones remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and while head coach Mike McDaniel has said he believes the veteran will be ready for Week 1, there has to be a concern. Nik Needham suffered what appeared to be a wrist or hand injury in last week’s game, and though it is not believed to be serious, there also has to be a concern for his health. Someone has to step into the fourth cornerback spot, and tonight would be a great time to do it. Will it be Noah Igbinoghene, Kaden Kohou, Keion Crossen, D’Angelo Ross, or Elijah Hamilton?

Can Miami establish the run?

Related to the Gaskin or Ahmed question, the Dolphins need to show they are capable of establishing a rushing attack. McDaniel’s offensive system is built to run the ball, then use play-action to create space and get the ball out to the receivers. There is creativity in the scheme and the team looks to create mismatches with personnel. Right now, however, the offensive line is struggling to open running lanes, leading to just 49 yards of rushing two weeks ago and 37 yards last week. The full starting lineup has yet to play, and when the majority of the starters did play, they were in for a fairly short appearance. The pass blocking has been solid in that small sample size, but the run blocking has to improve.

How much talk will there be about Mike Gesicki after the game?

Mike Gesicki, Miami’s franchise-tagged tight end, could stay on the sideline for the entire game. He also could be on the field for every single offensive snap tonight. Either scenario or anything in between, would not be a surprise at this point. McDaniel’s offense is built to include a tight end who contributes as a blocker along with being a receiving option. Gesicki has never been a true in-line tight end who is asked to block regularly. This summer has included the tight end seeing a lot of work in practice and in the first two preseason games so he can improve his blocking. Will that be the same tonight? Could Gesicki remain in the game simply so he has to block more and get that experience? Whatever happens, Gesicki will likely be a talking point for the next couple of weeks as the team prepares for the regular season - but just how much of a talking point?

How much will the Wednesday night illness that forced Thursday’s practice to be canceled impact tonight’s game?

The Dolphins were forced to cancel their side of the team’s joint practice with the Eagles due to illness. McDaniel explained the situation on Thursday, saying, “That was kind of a unique curveball early this morning. It was just an accumulation of some players having a stomach bug that we don’t really know totally where it was coming from and we’re just trying to be overly cautious so that we didn’t further affect players on the team, as well as we had to think of the best interest of the Philadelphia Eagles as well.”

He went on to add, “There’s more than a couple players. So it’s not half the team by any stretch, but that’s what I was trying to prevent, is I didn’t want to have half the team drained out from a stomach bug, fight through the heat and then have depleted performance in the preseason game because for a lot of guys, it’s the most important game of their career, and I hold a strong amount of value to that and didn’t want to compromise that in any way.”

Which players will be limited due to the illness? Could that lead to a bubble player not having a chance to prove himself, or not being at full strength if he is able to get on the field? The illness was a Thursday morning curveball for the team that could still be causing issues on Saturday night.