- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let’s take a look back at the game and how Miami performed in these three areas.
1. A fast start for offense: It wasn’t ideal. The Dolphins sputtered and suffered through penalties in the first two series on offense. However, Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Co. made up for it on the third drive at the end of the first quarter. The Dolphins drove 80 yards on seven plays during an impressive passing display led by Tannehill and new No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace. The pair combined for three receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown on the series. The highlight was Wallace’s 33-yard deep reception on the sideline where Wallace ran past the defender and made a challenging catch. Miami’s starting offense got extended time and scored another touchdown on a Lamar Miller 4-yard run in the second quarter. Overall, the Dolphins’ offense has something to build on.
2. Running back competition: Speaking of running backs, the Dolphins were looking for separation behind Miller, who is the projected starter. They may have gotten it with third-year player Daniel Thomas. He had his best preseason game against Houston, rushing for 25 yards on just four carries. Thomas has the inside track to become Miami’s No. 2 tailback behind Miller. Dolphins rookie running back Mike Gillislee (three carries, nine yards) and Jonas Gray (four carries, 14 yards) didn’t have productive games.
3. Find depth on defense: Miami’s starting defense is mostly set. However, there are plenty of backup roles available on defense, and this was an ideal time for players to step up. There were a few lesser-known backups who played well in this game. I thought linebacker Josh Kaddu and defensive tackle Kheeston Randall made plays and will be vying for roster spots. But a backup defensive player who helped himself the most Saturday defensive tackle A.J. Francis. In limited time, Francis recorded two tackles, a tackle for loss, a pass deflection and a hit on the quarterback. Miami already has a ton of depth at defensive line. But Francis could be a project for Miami worth developing on the practice squad.