Miami Dolphins: preseason

Morning take: Are Dolphins ready?

August, 29, 2014
8/29/14
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Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Friday from around the Web:
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes the Dolphins must get off the treadmill of mediocrity.
Morning take: Another seven- or eight-win season is not going to cut it in Miami. The Dolphins must make the playoffs this season with no excuses.
Morning take: There were no major injuries and the team finished 3-1. It was a productive summer for Miami.
Morning take: Thigpen had a boom-or-bust game against the Rams. He bobbled an early punt, then had a nice, 32-yard return. He will have a nervous 48 hours.
Morning take: Thomas had 13 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown. I’m not sure that was enough.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Thursday from around the Web:
  • Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post provides things to watch for the Dolphins’ preseason finale against the St. Louis Rams.
Morning take: Miami will play mostly backups against St. Louis. This game is bigger for those on the roster bubble.
  • Speaking of roster bubble, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald writes the pressure is on Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas.
Morning take: Thomas missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, while other young running backs stepped up. Thomas must play big against St. Louis to give Miami’s coaching staff something to think about.
  • Despite playing the Rams, the Dolphins are keeping their eye on the New England Patriots, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Morning take: The Dolphins must quickly turn their attention to New England after this final preseason game. The key will be to remain healthy.
  • Alain Poupart of the Dolphins team site writes it’s the last chance for some Dolphins rookies to impress.
Morning take: I’m particularly interested in watching backup linebackers Chris McCain and Jordan Tripp. These rookies may eventually get a chance to contribute.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins will play their third and most important preseason game Saturday when they host the Dallas Cowboys.

Tannehill
All eyes nationally will be on the high-profile Cowboys and stars such as quarterback Tony Romo and Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant. But for Miami, this team is focused on taking another important step forward before its Sept. 7 regular-season opener against the AFC East rival New England Patriots.

Saturday could be the final time key starters play in the exhibition season. Most coaches prefer to use the fourth preseason game to let the backups determine the final roster spots.

"It’s the most game-like," Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said of the third preseason game. "It’s the game where the starters will get the most playing time out of the entire preseason. It doesn’t really count, but it matters, it matters to us and the progression we make as a team as far as getting better. It’s our last chance before we play for real."

Tannehill has made steady progress throughout training camp and the preseason, which is good news for the Dolphins. He started training camp with a rocky start, including one stretch early where he threw six interceptions in two practices. It was part of the growing pains of learning a new offense under Bill Lazor.

However, Tannehill has been solid in the second half of training camp and the preseason. He completed all six passes for 62 yards and a touchdown in the preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons and was 9-of-14 passing last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tannehill is completing 75 percent of his passes during the preseason and playing faster and more decisive.

Tannehill and the offense are showing early signs of growth compared to last season. This unit was 27th in the NFL in 2013. If Miami’s offense can rise to the middle of the pack, the Dolphins could be dangerous when paired with a talented defense.

"I’m excited about this team," Tannehill said. "I’m excited about the players we have first and foremost, I’m excited about the offense we have and the meshing of the two. I think it’s a good fit, the personnel we have is a good fit for this offense."
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Wednesday from around the Web:
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald takes a look at guard prospects the Dolphins could be interested in next week.
Morning take: Guard is not a position of strength in this year’s draft. Therefore, do not expect Miami to go in this direction in the first round. But any round after the first is fair game.
Morning take: This is a position of strength and a target for Miami in the first round. The right tackle position remains up for grabs, and a player such as Zack Martin would be an ideal fit for the Dolphins' offense
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel wonders if a contract extension for center Mike Pouncey makes sense.
Morning take: A case can be made on the field, as Pouncey developed into a Pro Bowler. But it’s likely the Dolphins, who have Pouncey signed for two more seasons, want to wait at least another year before making this decision.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post writes about the Dolphins' announcement of their preseason times.
Morning take: The best part of the Dolphins’ preseason schedule is they only leave Florida once for a road game against the Atlanta Falcons. The exhibition season will be key for Miami to get off to a fast start.

What to Watch: Saints-Dolphins

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
8:00
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MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins will play their fifth and final preseason game Thursday against the visiting New Orleans Saints.

Here are three things to watch for the Dolphins:

1. Players on the bubble: Miami must make 25 roster cuts by Saturday evening to get down to the 53-man limit. Several key players to watch are defensive tackle A.J. Francis, third-string quarterback Pat Devlin and receivers Marvin McNutt and Chad Bumphis. Look for the bottom portion of the roster to get plenty of playing time. Shameless plug alert: I will do my roster projection Friday after the final preseason game.

2. Progression of tight ends: It was not a strong outing for Miami’s tight ends following the season-ending knee injury to starting tight end Dustin Keller. The Dolphins got just three catches and 34 yards from the position. New starter Charles Clay had just one reception for five yards -- though he was targeted six times by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. This will be an important game for Miami’s tight ends to get reps in preparation for the regular season, even if Tannehill isn’t on the field. Let's see what more Clay, Michael Egnew, Kyle Miller and Dion Sims can do.

3. No injuries: To be blunt, there isn’t much for teams to gain in this final preseason game. The most important thing for the Dolphins is to exit without significant injuries. The real games start in about 10 days, when the Dolphins travel to face the Cleveland Browns. Miami head coach Joe Philbin has been coy about playing time for his starters. Some may play briefly, while others might not play at all. This is a game for backups and fringe players.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins took part in a full-padded practice Tuesday in preparation for Thursday's preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints.

Here are several notes from Miami's practice:
  • Tuesday marked a significant day of progress for Miami No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan. He dressed in full pads and participated in drills for the first time since re-injuring his shoulder against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 9. Jordan has been doing rehab assignments and taking things slow with trainers for the past few weeks. The primary goal is to get Jordan ready for Week 1, and he took one step closer to that goal on Tuesday.
  • Dolphins rookie cornerback Will Davis missed his second straight practice and appears unlikely to play against the Saints. The team hasn’t clarified Davis’ injury, but he appeared to have suffered a leg injury in last weekend’s preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Miami's depth at cornerback is not strong after Davis’ injury and recently cutting veteran Richard Marshall.
  • Miami is using backup quarterback Pat Devlin with the second-string offense this week. This probably means Devlin is on the bubble, and the coaching staff wants to see what he can do with a better supporting cast. Devlin is the third quarterback behind Ryan Tannehill and veteran Matt Moore. The Dolphins must decide if they want to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster this week or use that spot to boost another position. Look for Devlin to get a lot of playing time in Thursday's preseason finale.
  • The Dolphins did not make their cuts before Tuesday’s practice. Miami has until 4 p.m. ET to trim its roster down to 75 players. We will post the full list when the Dolphins make their first round of cuts this afternoon.

Five Miami Dolphins on the bubble

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
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MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday night in the "dress rehearsal" game for both teams. The first round of cuts to 75 will be next Tuesday, and the final cut to 53 players is coming on Aug. 31.

This is a huge game for Miami's players who are on the verge of making the team or getting released. Here are five players who need a good performance Saturday night:

1. RB Jonas Gray

Analysis: It’s not often that a team keeps four running backs. But Gray is doing everything he can to make that a tough decision for Miami. Gray has been solid in training camp and preseason games. He even carved out a potential role as a short-yardage and goal-line option for the Dolphins this preseason, which he's done well. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas are locks for the 53-man roster. Mike Gillislee also is a draft pick, so he also sticks. Gray is fighting a number's game, and needs to prove Saturday why it is worth keeping an extra tailback.

2. DT A.J. Francis

Analysis: Perhaps no Dolphins backup has come on stronger in the past week or 10 days than Francis. The light has come on for the raw defensive lineman. Francis put together two good weeks of practice, and had an impressive preseason game last Saturday against the Houston Texans. The problem is that the defensive line is the deepest area of the team. My latest Miami roster projection has nine defensive linemen, and Francis didn’t make the cut. Ideally, the Dolphins would like to keep Francis on the practice squad. But that would risk Miami losing him to another team. Saturday is a good chance for Francis to show why he deserves to be on a 53-man roster -- whether it is Miami's or someone else's roster.

3. Guard Lance Louis

Analysis: Louis has been in a rough spot in training camp. The four-year veteran is coming off ACL surgery. He missed valuable practice time, but also needed to come back early enough to show what he can do before roster cuts. Louis has plenty of starting experience, but he's still rusty and probably not 100 percent. Louis was my last offensive lineman to make the cut. Much of that was because other offensive linemen are injured. This is a big game for Louis to validate his standing.

4. WR Marvin McNutt

Analysis: McNutt is in a neck-and-neck roster battle with fellow receiver Chad Bumphis. McNutt started training camp fast, then Bumphis took the lead, but lately McNutt is back to making more plays in practice. McNutt also has the size Miami's coaching staff covets. He just needs to work on his consistency. Bumphis is a slot receiver who doesn't offer much versatility. But this battle is still up for grabs, and could come down to the final two preseason games.

5. FB Jorvorskie Lane

Analysis: Lane, last year’s starting fullback, has really seen his stock drop in training camp and the preseason. Miami's coaching staff has moved in the direction of versatility and position-flexibility on offense. Therefore, players like Charles Clay and Evan Rodriguez are getting more reps ahead of Lane, who is a pure fullback. If roster cuts were today, I would expect Rodriguez to get the nod over Lane. Rodriguez is a better athlete, receiver and can play special teams. Lane's chances are dwindling fast. He has two more preseason games to try to earn a roster spot.

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