Most fans would consider the fourth preseason game a throw-away game as starters often don’t play. In Thursday’s matchup against the Tennessee Titans, Miami will follow suit and sit a larger portion of their starters and veterans. However, to the rest of the team, this game is just as important. Miami has an abundance of questions to be answered before the season begins. Each position there are key battles to be won before final roster cuts need to be made Saturday.
After Ryan Tannehill, there’s not a quarterback on Miami’s roster who is 100% guaranteed to stay. Matt Moore might be 99.99% confident he will stay, but this game could decide the .01%. Even after the threat of being benched early in his career, Tannehill has started every game for the Miami Dolphins.
With quarterbacks like Tony Romo and Teddy Bridgewater going down, if Zac Dysert or Brandon Doughty can wow coaches into moving on Miami could pull the trigger. Be that as it may, there’d have to be enough evidence to not only show either player would be worth moving on, as well as either player would be capable of stepping in should anything happen to Ryan Tannehill. More than likely, the duo would be competing for a final roster spot or position on the practice squad. Matt Moore can breathe a sigh of relief.
Miami has just as many questions marks this game as it did to start the season. Jay Ajayi and Arian Foster are safe and expected not to play. Rookie running back Kenyan Drake is healthy enough to play this week and should find significant playing time without over doing it.
His skill set will provide the Dolphins with a new wrinkle in their already fast-paced offense, expect Adam Gase to let him loose. Isiah Pead, a once clear favorite to earn the last spot, went down with an injury and won’t be active for two weeks(per Gase). Damien Williams and Daniel Thomas need to make the most of this opportunity to bump the injured Pead from the roster bubble.
Kenny Stills, Devonte Parker, and Jarvis Landry will probably all sit out this one as well. Injury concerns to Parker and Stills in practice should sideline the duo, and no one doubts the playmaker in Landry. Good news for their understudies Leonte Carroo, Jakeem Grant, and Griff Whalen who have all showed flashes of their potential this preseason.
Expect them to get a few series with the first team offensive line to help the unit stay in rhythm. More than likely one will be playing in situational downs throughout the season so this game could be huge for their progress.
Xavien Howard could very well be the x-factor. So much so that coaches have dropped subtle hints that he could start week one against the Seattle Seahawks. Being as he’s missed a large chunk of the preseason, this could be a huge indication that Miami didn’t reach when the selected him as presumed.
Miami has had up and down results on the field in their secondary and having a healthy Howard could be the boost they needed. Miami might push his limits but only give him enough playing time to get footage to review and help his progress. Expect him to play a half, maybe more or less depending on what coaches see.
From halftime on out, the Dolphins will roll out their roster bubble players. The units will consist of players trying to make the 53-man roster, players trying to secure at least a practice squad position, and players trying to show what they have for their future suitors.
While fans don’t get to watch players they’ll get used to all season, some of the fights is enough to make even the fourth preseason game a little interesting. Thursday night might be like watching minor league baseball, but at least it’s football.