In the Miami Dolphins 2016 preseason opener, the team defeated the New York Giants 27-10, but a lot of the scoring was done by the team’s second and third team offense.
Miami’s first-team offense sputtered as they played only seven plays and quarterback Ryan Tannehill finished 2-for-4 for 8 yards. As the Dolphins first team is expected to play longer in their second preseason game, they will hope their offense can generate some rhythm that will carry over into their dress rehearsal game against the Atlanta Falcons next Thursday night in Orlando.
Unlike the Dolphins, the Dallas Cowboys lost their preseason opener to the Los Angeles Rams 28-24 after leading at halftime 24-7. Despite the loss, Cowboys backup quarterback Dak Prescott showed the nation why the team didn’t decide to sign or trade for another backup quarterback as he finished 10-12 for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
Friday night’s game between the Dolphins and the Cowboys will be a national television game on NFL Network. Here are five things to watch for in Friday’s contest.
Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys
Time: 8 p.m. Eastern
TV: NFL Network (Nationally), CBS 4(locally in Miami)
Spread: Dallas -1.5
Five Things to Watch
1. The return of Tony Romo
Dallas Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo sat out last week’s game against the Rams. This week, Romo will make his preseason debut at home against the Dolphins after a rough 2015 season.
Romo only played in four games last season as he suffered a broken collarbone for most of the year. He is expected to play a series or two against the Dolphins. With his injury history, the Cowboys don’t want to risk getting Romo hurt in a meaningless preseason game.
2. Arian Foster Dolphins debut
Arian Foster will make his debut for the Dolphins in a state of Texas, where he played for seven seasons. Miami head coach Adam Gase held Foster out of their preseason opener against the Giants to prevent him from taking any unnecessary hits.
Friday night will be a chance for Foster to showcase what he can bring to the table. The running back has not played in a game since tearing his Achilles tendon last October as a member of the Houston Texans.
While Jay Ayaji is the No. 1 running back on the depth chart, he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire during practices. Foster is the most talented and complete running back on the Dolphins roster. If he can prove that he can remain healthy, he should eventually win the starting role.
3. DeVante Parker
Miami’s second-year receiver DeVante Parker was also held out of the team’s preseason opener for precautionary reasons. In only a short amount of time in the league, Parker has suffered a number of injuries dating back to when the team first drafted him.
Parker missed time during training camp due to a hamstring injury. Because he has missed a lot of time last season and during trainung camp, Parker doesn’t have the chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill as some of the other receivers do.
Friday should be the beginning of building that chemistry between Parker and Tannehill. While receiver Jarvis Landry is Tannehill’s favorite receiver, Parker is a bigger, taller, red zone threat that can stretch a defensive secondary.
4. Miami’s first string defensive line
Heading into the 2016 season, the Dolphins defensive line of Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams is expected to be one of the league’s best according to some NFL experts. After Wake, Suh and Williams sat last week, the three former Pro Bowlers are expected to play against the Cowboys.
Friday night will mark the return of Wake after he tore his Achilles against the New England Patriots last October. Suh and Williams are healthy but were just kept out because of cautionary reasons by Gase.
Wake, Suh and Williams will be going up against arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranked the Cowboys as the No. 1 offensive line in the NFL as the team is returning all five starters from a year ago.
Even though each unit may not play for very long, this will be a good test for Wake, Suh and Williams.
The maturation of Laremy Tunsil in his position change from left tackle to left guard is going pretty smoothly after a rough beginning. During training camp practices, Tunsil stood his ground with the likes of Suh without getting beat. Because of his recent play and the poor play of Dallas Thomas, Tunsil received more snaps with the first team offense.
Don’t be surprised to see Tunsil get some snaps with the starters at left guard against Dallas. After all, he was the Dolphins first round selection in last April’s draft and he is expected to become the team’s starter at guard at some point. Another impressive showing against Dallas could expedite that process even further.
You can follow Antwan on Twitter @antwanstaley
As the Miami Dolphins are set to play in their second preseason game on Friday night, they’re still a number of questions the team has to address. After seven plays and zero first downs by the first team offense against the New York Giants last week, the Dolphins offense will look to have better luck against the Dallas Cowboys.
Miami fans have a number of questions about their beloved Dolphins. With that in mind, let’s begin the Twitter mailbox for this week.
@antwanstaley Is the secondary as thin and bad as advertised?
— Paul Nobles (@dolfan_70) August 19, 2016
Miami expected to have second round pick Xavien Howard from Baylor as their No. 2 cornerback in defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s scheme during training camp. However, once Howard suffered a knee injury, the depth of the Dolphins secondary took a major hit.
Second-year player Tony Lippett has shown flashes of becoming an NFL quality cornerback at times, but he has often lacked consistency. Rookie Jordan Lucas has been overmatched throughout practices thus far.
Bobby McCain is a great athlete but is better for the nickel cornerback role. Veteran Michael Thomas being able to play a number of position in the secondary is great, but it isn’t enough.
Miami signed Chris Culliver, but he is still recovering from an ACL tear he suffered last season as a member of the Washington Redskins. The team needs Howard to come back from injury and play like a starting cornerback. If he can’t, then the Dolphins secondary really could be in big trouble as the season moves on.
If Howard and Culliver are healthy, then maybe the Dolphins secondary won’t be as bad as advertised.
@antwanstaley how about something positive for a change, your opinion of who has been the biggest surprise so far on O & D?
— FinFinatic (@FinFinatic) August 19, 2016
The biggest surprise on offense has to be the play of Damien Williams. Everyone knew he had a good skill set, but he was impressive during training camp as he ran the ball well, caught passes out of the backfield and even blocked a few of the Dolphins defenders as a fullback.
On defense, Chris Jones has been better than expected. During practices, he has often been in the Dolphins backfield stopping both running and passing plays. Jones is familiar with playing in a Wide-9 defense and that along with his play is why he will likely make the 53-man roster.
@antwanstaley will DeVante Parker have a breakout season in 2016
— THE FANTASY TYPHOON! (@jesusprotectme) August 19, 2016
Will DeVante Parker have a great year is the million-dollar question. If Parker can remain healthy during the entire 16 game schedule, then there’s no reason he can’t have around 70-80 catches and about 10 touchdowns this season.
Miami has lacked a big red-zone target for years and that is something Parker provides in their offense. While he rarely played in the Dolphins first eight games last season, he began to show his potential in the second half of the season.
If Parker can have games like how he did in the Dolphins 2015 season finale win against the New England Patriots when he caught six balls for 106 yards and a touchdown, then he should be just fine. I would be more worried about his injury history more than his actual production on the field.
@antwanstaley how are the TE'S , Cameron bounce back? He been looking good? offense been using more TE like projected to? Duarte a sleeper?
— ANTHONY NOTARO (@TZNUTZ) August 19, 2016
The tight end spot for the Dolphins is one of their weakest links. Jordan Cameron has been nonexistent during practices after a disappointing 2015 season where he caught only 35 passed for 386 yards and three touchdowns.
Dion Sims hasn’t been any better and not sure he will be anything more than a backup in the league. Thomas Duarte is intriguing, but he is a seven round pick. Not sure how much he will contribute if at all this season. Duarte is likely a practice squad player at this point. So it is hard to expect much from the tight ends this season.
Well that’s it for the Dolphins Twitter mailbag this week. Next week, there will be another one before Miami’s dress rehearsal against the Atlanta Falcons in Orlando.