Here are three things I'm watching in this exhibition game for the Dolphins:
1. Who emerges at tight end? The Dolphins were counting on veteran free-agent pickup Dustin Keller to provide leadership and production at tight end this year. But Keller suffered a season-ending knee injury last weekend against Houston, which leaves Miami scrambling. Currently the Dolphins do not have a clear, in-house solution to replace him. Young tight ends Dion Sims, Michael Egnew and Charles Clay were all recent draft picks with limited starting experience. The Dolphins haven’t traded or signed a veteran replacement yet. They want to see if one of their young tight ends can step up and earn the trust of the coaching staff.
2. Lamar Miller's workload: Miller, Miami's projected starting tailback, has just nine carries in three preseason games. Miller has an injury history and the Dolphins are being very cautious. But is Miami too cautious? Miller is a first-year starter and has just 51 NFL carries in his rookie season in 2012. That number is expected to quadruple. Yet, the Dolphins’ coaching staff hasn’t allowed Miller to get in rhythm in the preseason. We’ve already seen a fumble and a key drop from Miller in limited playing time. Perhaps that changes in this “dress rehearsal” game. Miller needs more work to sharpen his skills for the regular season and this is probably the final chance to do it.
3. John Jerry's progress: The Dolphins lack depth on the offensive line, and that was proven early in training camp when Jerry injured his knee. Miami’s projected starting guard is expected to make his preseason debut Saturday against the Buccaneers. Jerry spent most of camp rehabbing but has practiced all week with the first team. Jerry must knock off the rust and get ready for the regular season. This “dress rehearsal” is a good opportunity for Jerry to get his first in-game reps for the 2013 season.