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5 players to watch when the Miami Dolphins face the Los Angeles Chargers

Can the Miami Dolphins get revenge after falling to the Chargers last season?

Miami Dolphins v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

The NFL released its 2023 schedule on May 11 and Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel spent the last 120 days preparing for a rematch with the Los Angeles Chargers after last year’s 23-17 loss.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's rocky performance featured 10 completions on 28 attempts. Sunday marks his first regular-season game since Dec. 25 against the Green Bay Packers.

This matchup feels worthy of Sunday Night Football in early November, but each team is thrown into an AFC playoff race with little room for error. Here are five players to watch during Sunday’s bout.

5. Isaiah Wynn

Liam Eichenberg is listed as starting left guard — I’m not entirely sure he’ll be on the field with the starting offense. He’s dealt with a rib injury for most of the preseason, opening the door for Wynn to take hold of the starting job. The former New England Patriots lineman allowed one sack while playing 107 snaps at left guard throughout the preseason.

Miami’s offensive line remains a weakness, but adding Wynn should be a step in the right direction.

4. Tyreek Hill

The first-team All-Pro receiver found the end zone against the Chargers last season but struggled to find a rhythm as a receiving threat. Tagovailoa targeted him 10 times, but he brought down just four receptions. Staley’s defense played inside leverage, which took away some easy looks, but there were missed opportunities down the field — especially the first play from scrimmage.

The Chargers secondary tracked Hill all game — how will he respond for Round 2?

3. David Long Jr.

The Chargers averaged just 3.6 yards per carry against the Dolphins last year. Tailback Austin Ekeler carried the ball 15 times for 45 yards and a touchdown. Los Angeles struggled to move Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler in the middle of the field as Miami allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards in the league.

Vic Fangio’s defense may be softer than Josh Boyer’s against the run, but Long should help the unit stay on track. The former sixth-round pick had 40 run stops with the Tennessee Titans last season.

2. Jaelen Phillips

The defensive front dominated in an 11-6 win over the New York Jets in Week 18. Running backs were held to 1.9 yards per carry. Joe Flacco and the passing attack completed 18 attempts for 149 yards.

Phillips helped the Dolphins hang around against the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs, but the same could be said for the rest of the defensive front. This group must do the heavy lifting early in the season while Jalen Ramsey recovers from meniscus surgery.

1. Tua Tagovailoa

Sunday marks Tagovailoa’s first regular-season start in 274 days, and it comes against the quarterback selected right after him in the 2020 NFL draft. The former first-round pick enters his fourth year with plenty to prove — knocking off the Chargers would be a statement to begin the season.