Things to look for in the Dolphins’ preseason opener against the Buccaneers – The Denver Post

The Miami Dolphins have three opportunities in play to prepare for the 2022 season, which kicks off in a month at home against the New England Patriots.

Time is running out and Mike McDaniel’s to-do list remains long.

A new offense is installed by the Dolphins rookie head coach, and it comes with a new style of running play that is still being introduced.

A new defensive scheme is cobbled together by Josh Boyer, and Miami is looking for its next group of point guards and leaders not named Tyreek Hill.

Where is this team going? Their pre-season performances will likely provide some clues.

Here are 10 things to look for in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

How much does Tua Tagovailoa play, if any?

McDaniel hinted that Tagovailoa, who is 13-8 as a starter for the team the past two years, may miss Saturday’s exhibition. Given his sharpness in the first three weeks of training camp, it’s understandable to take a cautious and protective approach. Tagovailoa’s solid workouts have boosted his confidence, as well as the confidence his teammates and coaches have in him. It’s possible he’ll struggle in his one or two series against the Buccaneers and that would put a damper on everything he’s done in the past three weeks.

Will the Dolphins centers provide sharp shots?

Connor Williams’ transition from guard to center is ongoing, which means his snapping is a bit erratic at times, which is understandable. While I don’t expect Miami’s starting offensive line to be on the field for more than one shift, it would be ideal for Williams to handle at least a dozen snaps in a real game situation. , so he can know what it’s like and adapt to the tasks and challenges of playing center.

Will a starting offensive line without Terron Armstead look respectable?

It’s been years since Pro Bowler Armstead left the Dolphins’ tackle to sign a five-year, $74.5 million deal this offseason, played in a preseason game. Considering how limited he’s been in training for the past three weeks, the chances of Armstead playing in one of the three pre-season games are slim. But that doesn’t mean Miami should fold the tent and go home against Kacy Rodgers’ powerful defense, which ranks among the best defensive fronts in the NFL every year. The onus is on Greg Little and Larnel Coleman, the backup offensive tackles, to play well as a replacement for Armstead.

Can Noah Igbinoghene clean up his troublesome technique?

The Dolphins used the 30th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Igbinoghene, and it’s time he showed his coaches, teammates and the Dolphins fanbase that he’s not in possession of a one-way ticket to bust-land. Igbinoghene’s ball skill and receiver recognition are usually slow in a split second. That’s why he needs to be on the football field for at least 25 defensive snaps per game in the three preseason games so he can iron out his issues or the Dolphins can figure out if the juice is worth or not. trouble with this former Auburn star.

Will the wide-area racing game have a productive first performance?

The Dolphins have possessed one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL over the past three seasons, and the easiest way to turn that around is to fully commit to McDaniel’s wide-area running program, which has delivered one of the NFL’s best rushing attacks in every one of his NFL saves. The transition won’t happen overnight, but the perfect time for Robert Hunt, Liam Eichenberg, Austin Jackson and Williams to iron out the wrinkles is in those first two preseason games.

Will Skylar Thompson continue to progress?

Thompson, the former Kansas State starter the Dolphins selected in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft, has been one of the best players in camp over the past two weeks. The rookie is clearly comfortable with Miami’s offense, which is similar to the one he led in college, and with his new teammates. He cut through the Buccaneers defense in Thursday’s joint practice, and it will be interesting to see if he continues to be effective and make consistent clutch throws in Saturday’s game, where he will likely play the most of the second half, if not more.

Whoever wants to be Miami’s fifth receiver has to raise their hand.

Starting rosters Preston Williams and Lynn Bowden Jr. showed little in the first three weeks of training camp. Although both are considered unique receiving talents, they haven’t shown much mastery of this offense. They must either shine in those games or make room for Braylon Sanders, River Cracraft, Trent Sherfield, DeVonte Dedmon or Mohamed Sanu to take fifth and possibly sixth receiver spot on Miami’s 53-man roster.

Will tight ends have an impact against the Buccaneers?

The Miami tight ends had a quiet start to the camp due to the difficult transition they make, which McDaniel says forced them to abandon everything they learned and adjust their approach to this style of play. the west coast, which requires aggressiveness. However, it would be ideal to see Mike Gesicki testing his blocking and Durham Smythe and Hunter Long working on the court, showcasing their ability to run. Tanner Conner shouldn’t be overlooked either, as the former Idaho State, Miami wide receiver moved to short end and was one of the best players in camp last week.

Can the Dolphins defense contain Tampa Bay traffic jams?

The Buccaneers will likely use the preseason to iron out any offensive line issues they’re having and give the running game a try. Tampa Bay needs a better balance offensively if they want to take some of the burden off Tom Brady. During this week’s joint practice, the Buccaneers were productive running the ball on Thursday, while on Wednesday the tailbacks made their way with the Miami defense’s off-screen passes. Miami linebackers need to become more attentive and efficient at diagnosing things.

Which player in the background will prove they belong?

The first preseason game is usually when the light bulb goes on for most rookies, and they realize it might be the NFL, but the game is still football. Channing Tindall, the Dolphins’ 2022 third-round pick, had a quiet training camp. The former Georgia player should have plenty of chances to make an impact in the second half of Saturday’s game. But it will be interesting to see which player from the back of the roster excels on his debut.


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