Observations from Dolphins' preseason opener

August, 18, 2009
8/18/09
8:28
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Here are a few observations from the Miami Dolphins' 12-9 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in their preseason opener Monday night at muddy Land Shark Stadium.

Sloppy conditions made it tough to evaluate. Heavy rains turned the field into soup and made traction even more difficult on the Florida Marlins' infield. The teams also combined for 18 penalties that went for 170 yards, turning the game into a puntfest.

Chad Henne was spotty. Miami's backup quarterback played the second and third quarters. He was 7-of-11 for 94 yards and one touchdown with one interception. He should have been picked off twice, throwing his first pass of the game directly to strong safety Sean Considine, who dropped it. Henne's touchdown pass was a nice 33-yard catch and run by Ernest Wilford in the third quarter.

If any player needed to make a big play it was Wilford. The Dolphins signed Wilford on the first day of free agency last year and he accomplished a skosh more than nothing. He caught three passes and was inactive for nine games. To recoup some of the $6 million in guarantees they forked over, the Dolphins moved Wilford to tight end. He caught one pass Monday and made it count.

Rookie quarterback Pat White looked antsy, but wasn't bad. White, who played in the fourth-quarter muck, seemed more comfortable scrambling than throwing. White ran six times for 20 yards. He completed 2 of 7 passes for 14 yards and an interception that wasn't his fault. Running back Anthony Kimble bobbled a catchable pass that was plucked out of the air by Jaguars cornerback Pete Ittersagen.

Jason Taylor looked like the one who last played for Miami, not the lost soul who didn't fit last year in with the Washington Redskins. Taylor didn't register any tackles, but
he and fellow outside linebacker Joey Porter disrupted David Garrard's pocket. Taylor would have registered a sack had Garrard not unloaded a desperation fling for an incompletion.

Offensive coordinator Dan Henning got receiver Ted Ginn involved. Chad Pennington threw at Ginn five times early in the first quarter. They connected twice for 26 yards, with both completions going for first downs on back-to-back plays. A reception for minus-1 yard was erased by a penalty. Another attempt to hook up drew a 34-yard defensive pass interference penalty. Ginn also ran a reverse 14 yards for a first down.

Bad debut for rookie cornerback Vontae Davis. The 25th overall draft pick was charged with two big penalties on punts and was called for a pass interference. He made contact with Jaguars return man Brian Witherspoon, who called for a fair catch. That's a 15-yarder. Davis later nullified a long Dolphins return with a personal foul behind the play. The foul didn't show up on replays, but Davis went down as the culprit in the game transcript.

Right end Randy Starks might have gotten away with a "Brady Rule" violation. On the last play of the Jaguars' first drive, Starks crawled through the line and lunged at Garrard's knee. There was no clear replay of the hit, though it appeared Starks led with his shoulder. Referee John Parry was on the spot and declined to throw a flag, but Garrard limped off the field.

Undrafted rookie Chris Williams handled all the return duties. He fielded four punts and four kickoffs. He muffed one punt and fielded another at the 5-yard line (then lost 3 yards). He had a 27-yard punt return wiped out by Davis' personal foul. Williams returned his kickoffs 37, 28, 29 and 41 yards.

The kicking competition is open. The Dolphins alternated kickers. Incumbent Dan Carpenter was given the first try and nailed a 48-yarder in the first quarter, but missed the extra point on a third-quarter touchdown because he slipped in the mud. Connor Barth made a 27-yarder off the dirt in the second quarter. Carpenter handled all but one kickoff, sending one into the end zone, another to the 2-yard line and the third one to the 11-yard line. Barth took one kickoff, sending it to the 5-yard line.

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