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Some observations from the Miami Dolphins' entertaining 27-17 home victory over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night:
The Wildcat was called, but the plays were reruns. The Dolphins ran five Wildcat plays, but none revealed anything new. They were the same plays we watched last year, including a long flea-flicker pass from Chad Pennington to Patrick Cobbs. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano probably won't show off any new wrinkles. We didn't see rookie quarterback Pat White try it out.
Rookie cornerback Vontae Davis rebounded. With last week's right-side starter Sean Smith sidelined by illness, Davis got the start and played essentially the entire game.
Davis was called for three penalties in the preseason opener, but was effectively aggressive Saturday. He snuffed running back Mike Goodson for a 4-yard loss on a dump pass at the end of the first quarter and was all over receiver Jason Carter for a 2-yard loss in the third quarter.
"It just was a blessing to bounce back from penalties and stuff like that," Davis said. "I just feel great about my play today."
Ronnie Brown looked terrific. On Miami's six-play opening drive, Brown ran for 3, 10 and 12 yards and finished it off with a 28-yard catch and run for a touchdown. He caught the ball around the 15-yard line and made a sweet move that made safety Chris Harris look foolish. Brown didn't do much while handling all five Wildcat plays, but all in all he was in mid-season form.
After a sensational game last week, Miami's most talented receiver was Ginnvisible. In the preseason opener, the Dolphins made sure Ted Ginn was involved heavily. Pennington threw at Ginn five times in the first quarter. Ginn was responsible for four first downs, including one on a 14-yard reverse.
On Saturday, Pennington threw to Ginn once for an incompletion. That was all. Ginn didn't have a catch or a yard all night.
Dan Carpenter got the juicier opportunity in the kicking battle. Carpenter, the second-year incumbent, made a 41-yard attempt. Free-agent contender Connor Barth made a 21-yard attempt but was used on two extra points.
Donald Thomas probably has sewn up the right guard job. Thomas appears to have regained his position after the Dolphins gave Shawn Murphy a shot at it. Thomas, fully recovered from a torn pectoral muscle, started against the Panthers and played well.