AFC East: Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins game predictions

September, 2, 2014
Sep 2
8:00
AM ET
video
ESPN.com Miami Dolphins reporter James Walker makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.

Week 1: New England Patriots

The Patriots have dominated the AFC East division for a long time. New England will be at or near full strength in Week 1, which is bad news for Miami. Prediction: Loss


Week 2: at Buffalo Bills

Buffalo swept Miami last year and has been an awful matchup for the Dolphins in recent seasons. This will be the Bills' home opener and Miami's first road game. That is not a good combination. Prediction: Loss


Week 3: Kansas City Chiefs

At this point, Week 3 will be a must-win for Miami, which cannot fall to 0-3. Kansas City was a playoff team last season, but the Dolphins have enough talent to pull off an important win. Prediction: Win


Week 4: at Oakland Raiders

Although you never know how a team will respond going overseas, this should be a win for the Dolphins in London. Oakland is a struggling team that won't win many games this year. Prediction: Win


Week 6: Green Bay Packers

The Dolphins will receive a boost on defense with safety Reshad Jones and defensive end Dion Jordan coming off suspensions. But quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense will be too much as Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin loses to his former team. Prediction: Loss


Week 7: at Chicago Bears

Winning in Soldier Field is never easy. The Dolphins lose a close one on the road. Prediction: Loss


Week 8: at Jacksonville Jaguars

This is a road game the Dolphins should win. Miami's defense can take advantage of former Dolphins draft bust Chad Henne or an inexperienced Blake Bortles at quarterback. Prediction: Win


Week 9: San Diego Chargers

West Coast teams usually struggle when making the long flight to Miami. The Dolphins pull this one out to keep things interesting in the second half of the season. Prediction: Win


Week 10: at Detroit Lions

This is one of those "swing games" that will make or break Miami's season. The Dolphins are capable of beating Detroit but fall short. Prediction: Loss


Week 11: Buffalo Bills

Despite being an awful matchup, the Dolphins can't afford to get swept by the Bills for the second year in a row. Miami wins a competitive game over Buffalo at home. Prediction: Win


Week 12: at Denver Broncos

Unless future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning is injured, the Dolphins have little chance of winning this game. This will be a homecoming of sorts for Miami running back Knowshon Moreno, who played in Denver. Prediction: Loss


Week 13: at New York Jets

The Dolphins usually play well in New York. However, that streak of beating the Jets on the road comes to an end this season. Prediction: Loss


Week 14: Baltimore Ravens

Miami let the Ravens escape last season with a win in Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins will be determined not to let it happen two years in a row. Prediction: Win


Week 15: at New England Patriots

The Patriots on the road in December is asking for disaster. New England usually is full-throttle by this time of year and rounding into playoff form. Prediction: Loss


Week 16: Minnesota Vikings

Miami finishes the regular season with two home games in December. The Vikings are mediocre and should be a winnable game late. Prediction: Win


Week 17: New York Jets

Similar to 2013, this game could have wild-card implications. The Jets and Dolphins usually split, so Miami gets the nod at home. Prediction: Win


Predicted Record: 8-8

DAVIE, Fla. -- The first offering of bad news happened this morning for the Miami Dolphins' defense: New England Patriots Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski declared himself ready to return in Week 1.

Gronkowski
Gronkowski
Miami’s defense has traditionally struggled against the Patriots’ offense. The Dolphins will be preparing for a New England team at full strength Sept. 7 at Sun Life Stadium to open the regular season.

Though Gronkowski’s return is news to the rest of the league, the Dolphins were not surprised. Miami was bracing for Gronkowski, who is coming off an ACL tear, as soon as the NFL schedule was released in April.

"We were fully prepared. We saw he was on the 53-man roster so we have to be prepared for every combination," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said Monday. "He’s an excellent player. He’s been very productive throughout his career. So we will have a good plan in place. ... We will be ready for him, for sure."

Gronkowski provides perhaps the biggest matchup problem Miami has on defense. The Dolphins' linebackers are one of the most inconsistent groups on the team -- both against the run and the pass. Gronkowski is arguably the NFL’s best tight end when healthy and New England quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite target in the red zone.

However, if the Dolphins focus too much on one player it could open things up for others on New England's offense, such as receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.

"We’ve got to defend their entire group and that’s a big enough chore as it is," Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "We assumed that he would be playing. So that’s kind of how we’ve been proceeding since the spring."

This will be an interesting chess match between two division opponents who know each other well. The team which best took advantage of the extra prep time will start the regular season 1-0.

"You’re always able to spend more time on your first opponent -- and that goes back to spring," Coyle said. "Certain things that we worked on, and certain things we exposed our players to, I think they have a better feeling now than if it were Game 5 or 6 during the regular season."

Dolphins add two to secondary

August, 31, 2014
Aug 31
4:00
PM ET
The Miami Dolphins have two new additions to their secondary. The Dolphins claimed cornerback Sammy Seamster from the Baltimore Ravens and safety Brandian Ross from the Oakland Raiders off waivers Sunday, Miami general manager Dennis Hickey announced.

Miami had just four cornerbacks after cutting down to its 53-man roster. This is a valuable position where depth is needed. Seamster will be the fifth cornerback behind starters Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan and second-year backups Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.

Ross replaces safety Don Jones, who was cut Sunday. The Dolphins have their starting safety – Reshad Jones – currently serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Miami also cut receiver Damian Williams.

Some other notes from Hickey's news conference Sunday:
  • Hickey said the team is pleased with the rehab of Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey. That factored into the decision to take him off the physically unable to perform list. Pouncey and the team appear optimistic that he can return before the six-week window. Hickey said the decision of when to play Pouncey will be a collaborative effort with the medical staff.
  • With the release of Williams and Marcus Thigpen, the Dolphins' kickoff and punt returners up are in the air. Rookie Jarvis Landry received the most work in training camp and the preseason of the remaining players on the roster. “We feel we have several guys that can compete there,” Hickey said. “As you’ve seen during the preseason, you’ve seen multiple guys go back there.”
  • The Dolphins only have two active quarterbacks for the first time under head coach Joe Philbin. Hickey said that situation remains “fluid,” but Miami is "very confident" in quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore. The Dolphins, at the very least, are expected to carry one quarterback on the practice squad.

Miami Dolphins cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
5:07
PM ET
Most significant move: The biggest move the Miami Dolphins made Saturday was releasing running back Daniel Thomas, a second-round pick in 2011. Thomas was once expected to be a future building block on offense. But Thomas never showed the skills needed to be a feature back. He will go down as one of former general manager Jeff Ireland’s biggest draft busts. New general manager Dennis Hickey did not have strong ties to Thomas and graded him based on merit. Thomas was injured in training camp and most of the preseason before making his debut in Thursday’s exhibition finale. Thomas rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, which wasn’t enough. Instead, Miami kept promising rookie running back Damien Williams on the roster as the No. 3 running back behind Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno.

New returner: The Dolphins will have a new kick returner in 2014. Miami released Marcus Thigpen, who had taken over the return duties for the Dolphins the past two seasons. Like Thomas, Thigpen also had nagging injuries in training camp. He muffed a punt Thursday in Miami’s preseason finale, which sealed his fate. The Dolphins will be searching for new options.The most likely candidates include receivers Jarvis Landry and Damian Williams.

Center of attention: Another interesting decision the Dolphins had to make involved Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey. After weeks of rehabilitation, Miami decided to take Pouncey off the physically unable to perform list (PUP). This means Pouncey can play whenever he’s recovered from major hip surgery. He’s looked strong in rehab and dropped hints to the Miami media that he’d like to play in London in Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders. Keeping Pouncey on the PUP would have prevented him from playing the first six games of the regular season.

What’s next: The Dolphins will work on filling out their 10-player practice squad over the next 24 hours. That should include several players listed in Saturday’s cuts. Miami also could scan the wires to boost depth at a few positions on its 53-man roster. Thin positions of interest include the offensive line, linebacker and tight end.

Team moves: WR Marcus Thigpen, RB Daniel Thomas, CB Kevin Fogg, WR Matt Hazel, QB Seth Lobato, K Jake Rogers, OL David Arkin, OL Evan Finkenberg, TE Evan Wilson, WR Kevin Cone, S Jordan Kovacs, OL Sam Brenner, DE Tevin Mims, DT Isaako Aaitui, OT Tony Hills, TE Kyle Miller, DE D'Aundre Reed, DL Garrison Smith, LB Andrew Wilson, DT Kamal Johnson (IR)

Jared Odrick: Big man, small car

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
2:00
PM ET
video
DAVIE, Fla. -- Jared Odrick is a 6-foot-5, 304-pound defensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins. The five-year veteran punishes offensive linemen, tackles running backs and sacks quarterbacks for a living.

The Fiat 500 is one of the tiniest cars on the market. It's about 5 feet tall, 4 1/2 feet wide, has two doors and starts around $16,000, according to Fiat's website.

And it's what Odrick drives.

When the towering Odrick stands next to the car, it looks like he could carry it in his arms. This choice in wheels has become a topic of conversation this summer among the Dolphins, who enjoy teasing Odrick in the parking lot as they drive by in their bigger, more expensive vehicles.

"Of course they make fun of me, but that's all right," Odrick said with a smile. "I can ward off people who make fun of me. It's more the look, the reaction and the laugh. Some guys still can't get over it."

Odrick, who says he has purchased luxury cars during his playing career, was in the market for a new car this offseason, and he wanted to try something more cost-effective and fuel-efficient. The 2010 first-round pick rented the brown 500 on a trial basis and likes it so much that he plans to buy an upgraded version later this year.

[+] EnlargeJared Odrick
James Walker/ESPN.comJared Odrick might look cramped in there, but he says he's comfortable.
"It first started off as just a first-week-of-training-camp-type thing, and it kind of stuck," Odrick said. "I didn't mind it. I think there's another one to come in the future."

Odrick suspected the Fiat might be a good fit last year, when he drove one to his celebrity golf tournament. It turned heads then, as it does now with the Dolphins.

"Some guys wanted a ride to the hotel [in training camp] just to see if they can fit in the Fiat," Odrick said.

Odrick said the two biggest teammates to ride with him are defensive lineman Kamal Johnson and offensive tackle Tony Hills. Johnson is 6-foot-3 and 314 pounds. Hills is listed at 6-foot-5 and 304 pounds.

"He's about as wide as this car, but we made it work," Odrick said of Hills.

Odrick and Hills weigh a combined 608 pounds, which is a lot of weight for any vehicle, much less a tiny Fiat. Yet Hills confirmed that the hard-to-fathom event took place.

"We were shoulder-to-shoulder, but from Point A to Point B, it works," Hills said. "I give Fiat two thumbs up for holding all that weight and getting us there on time."

Odrick says he is enjoying the differences of driving an economy car this football season. He loves filling up his gas tank just once a week, for $32. Odrick also said other drivers are nicer to him and more sympathetic, as compared to their reaction when he drove a luxury vehicle.

"It's overall a more polite and courteous vehicle," Odrick said of his Fiat. "People don't seem to mind its existence."

Odrick, 26, said this season's Fiat experiment is starting to change the way he views cars. Specifically, it has emphasized the wisdom in not spending too much for something that can quickly depreciate in value.

"Not that I have a great business mind at all, but I just try to think logically the more and more I get older," he explained. "[An expensive car] is a bad investment because it loses money as soon as you drive it off the lot. That's a money and Car 101 thing."
Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan pressured St. Louis Rams quarterback Garrett Gilbert on the final drive Thursday to help seal Miami’s 14-13 preseason victory. But after the final snap and in the locker room, reality set in for the Dolphins that Jordan will not be available for the next month while he serves his four-game suspension.

Joseph
Jordan
Jordan tested positive for a banned substance this summer. Friday marks the official start of his suspension, and Jordan must stay away from the team and the facility for the next four games.

The 2013 No. 3 overall pick had two tackles and a quarterback pressure in Miami’s preseason finale and showed flashes of what the Dolphins are missing. Jordan will miss games against the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders.

"I mean, it’s really tough," Jordan said. "Missing out on all the work that I put in leading up to this point. My guys are heading into the season with a big game and I’m not going to be able to be there. I mean, it’s unfortunate but at the same time, I mean, I understand the situation I’m in and I got to deal with the consequences."

Jordan vows to stay in shape and continue to work on his game. He mentioned the potential of working out with an independent defensive line coach during his suspension if it is within the rules. Jordan cannot work with anyone from the Dolphins organization for the next four weeks.

Jordan showed growth in some areas in training camp and the preseason. But the second-year defensive end still must refine his game to be an every-down defensive lineman.

The suspension loomed over Jordan for weeks, but to his credit he didn’t go into the tank and had a productive summer.

"I understood going into these first four games what the deal was," Jordan said. "I had to make these snaps count at game time and at practice. I then had to make sure I rose my level of play. So when I do step away, I mean, I at least put something in."

In addition to Jordan, starting safety Reshad Jones also is serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Miami Dolphins' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
10:00
AM ET
Examining the Miami Dolphins' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin kept three quarterbacks his first two years. But expect that streak to end, as Seth Lobato didn't show enough to be Miami's No. 3.

RUNNING BACKS (3)

Williams, an undrafted free agent, had a good camp and preseason to unseat Miami draft bust Daniel Thomas.

RECEIVERS (7)

Seven is probably too many receivers. But Thigpen only counts as a kick returner.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

The Dolphins are thin behind Clay. Hoskins outlasted Michael Egnew and injured rookie Arthur Lynch.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

This group still has something to prove. The sooner Pouncey can get back on the field, the better.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

No issues here. The Dolphins are deep in the trenches.

LINEBACKERS (7)

I'm still not sure the switch between Ellerbe and Misi will drastically improve this unit. We will find out soon enough.

CORNERBACKS (4)

This group has experience in the starting lineup and youth on the second team.

SAFETIES (5)
Reshad Jones' four-game suspension opened up a spot for a bubble player at safety.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Sturgis' groin injury is concerning. But he has 10 days to get healthy before the regular season.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Many of the current Miami Dolphins were children when quarterback Dan Marino dominated the football scene in South Florida. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was still working his way up the coaching ranks in the 1980s and 1990s.

Marino remains the best and most popular player in franchise history, and last weekend the team hired the Hall of Famer as a "special advisor." The reaction from players and coaches has been positive.

"I'm elated that he's part of the organization," Philbin said this week. "He's always kind of been an unofficial part of the organization. I had a chance to visit with him earlier today. He's excited about it. I'm sure there are a lot of things he can contribute to the organization in whatever roles Steve (Ross) and those that are in charge want that to be. He's always welcome here."

Marino's role with the Dolphins has not been defined publicly. There was no fanfare about the hire other than a news release, and there wasn't a news conference that allowed the media to ask Marino questions about his new job.

What is known is Marino will work in a variety of capacities. As time goes on, we will most likely know more about his role in Miami.

"I don't know. I don't know exactly what his role even is," Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill admitted. "No one has really even told me that. But, if he's open to some time, I'd love to pick his brain a little bit."

Regardless of his role, hiring Marino is a big win for the players. It's a rare resource to have a Hall of Famer who has been in current Dolphins' shoes readily available. Marino brings instant credibility as a person who's played the tough quarterback position as good as anyone in NFL history.

"Any time you have a guy like that just being around the organization is positive for you," Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said. "He's a legend, so any time he can come into this building and see a guy like that around is going to motivate you and help you play. You know he's going always to give you a couple of tips and nuggets, so that's always good."

Miami Dolphins cut-down analysis

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
5:59
PM ET
Most significant move: Miami Dolphins quarterback Brady Quinn was the biggest release in terms of name recognition. The former 2007 first-round pick joined Miami about two weeks ago but was put in a rough spot to learn a new offense months after everyone else. Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore played well once Quinn arrived. Receiver Armon Binns also was a quality player who was cut but has a chance to help out another team. The Dolphins have a lot of depth at wide receiver.

Pouncey factor: The Dolphins' toughest roster decision this week doesn't involve cutting a player. Miami must decide by Saturday at 4 p.m. ET whether to save a roster spot for injured Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey or put him on the physically unable to perform list, which would guarantee he sits the first six games of the regular season. Pouncey had major hip surgery this summer and missed all of training camp and the preseason. The initial prognosis for Pouncey was to miss four to seven games. However, Pouncey has looked strong in rehab and believes he’s ahead of schedule. The Dolphins will get a firm medical update on Pouncey this week to decide how much time off he needs.

What’s next: The Dolphins will host the St. Louis Rams on Thursday at Sun Life Stadium. Then Miami will have to cut 22 more players on Saturday to get to its final 53-man roster.

Dolphins’ cuts: QB Brady Quinn, WR Armon Binns, TE Arthur Lynch, DT A.J. Francis, RB Mike Gillislee, TE Brett Brackett, CB Steven Clarke, DE Rakim Cox, DT Cory Grissom, C Tyler Larsen, WR Ryan Spadola, K John Potter, OT Steven Baker, S Demetrius Wright.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins finished their final practice in preparation for Thursday’s preseason final against the St. Louis Rams at Sun Life Stadium.

Sturgis
Here are some notes and observations:
  • Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis returned to practice on Tuesday. His kicks looked strong and he didn’t show any ill effects from his groin injury. Miami has had injury issues at the kicker position, but it appears Sturgis is on his way back to the field. “All initial reports are positive,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “We’ll see once he warms up [Thursday] if we can get him out there.”
  • Philbin was not as forthright with the playing time of his starters Thursday, particularly his starting offense. It remains unknown if starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Co. will play against the Rams. Last year, Tannehill did not play in the final preseason game. But last week, Miami’s offense struggled to put points on the board against the Dallas Cowboys in the third preseason game as the Dolphins’ starters scored just three points in six possessions. Miami may want to get its first-team offense some confidence before its Week 1 showdown against the rival New England Patriots.
  • Miami backup running back Daniel Thomas said he’s ready to make his preseason debut against St. Louis. Thomas missed some of training camp and the entire preseason with a hamstring injury. Since then, Miami rookie running backs Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa have stepped up and played, which has put Thomas’ roster spot in jeopardy. Thursday’s preseason game may be Thomas’ last chance to impress. “It’s pretty important,” Thomas admitted. “I haven’t gone out there in a while. So I just want to show coaches that my hamstring is good, I’m feeling good and I’m ready to play good.”
  • There were dual “Play of the Day” candidates in practice. The first big play was Tannehill throwing a 30-plus-yard touchdown to speedy receiver Mike Wallace in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. There has been a lot of chatter about Tannehill and Wallace’s inability to connect on big plays, and that was a nice connection. The second play of the day was a pick-six by safety Reshad Jones off quarterback Brady Quinn in team drills.
  • The Dolphins are currently at 86 players. They have to make 11 cuts to get down to 75 players by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday. ESPN.com’s Dolphins blog will provide a cut-down analysis Tuesday evening once the team makes it decision.

Mike Wallace: Big plays are coming

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
10:00
AM ET
DAVIE, Fla. -- At this point, Miami Dolphins No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace has heard the question dozens of times about his lack of deep-ball chemistry with starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

So much is the case that Wallace is growing weary of the nearly weekly inquiries.

Wallace
Wallace
"Not almost tired," Wallace said with a slight grin. "I've been tired of it."

But Wallace understands why the lack of successful deep balls have been a hot topic among fans, local media and sports-talk radio in Miami. The Dolphins signed Wallace last year to a $60 million contract specifically to bring his world-class speed and big-play ability to Miami. However, the chemistry between Wallace and Tannehill on those "splash" plays remains a work in progress one year later.

Most recently, in last weekend's preseason win over the Dallas Cowboys, Tannehill misread Wallace on a deep pattern and threw the ball inside while Wallace ran freely on the outside. It would have been a big touchdown for Miami's first-team offense, which was held to just three points on six drives.

Tannehill and Wallace also have missed on most deep balls during training camp, which has some wondering if the big play will ever be consistent between this pair. Still, Wallace remains confident.

"It's cool, it's part of the territory," Wallace said of the questioning. "Until we hit it, people have a right to ask that question and that's something we can't avoid until we hit it and get rid of the question. It's not going to be one time where we hit it and then it's over. We've got to continually do it, every day. That's why we work, we keep working."

Wallace is coming off his best preseason game of the summer. He caught six passes for 67 yards -- with each completion coming from Tannehill. But the missed opportunity on the deep pass is the play that stands out most among Dolphins fans.

Most of the deep passing has been an issue with the quarterback. Tannehill's deep ball is arguably the weakest throw in his arsenal. Oftentimes, he leaves passes short where Wallace has to slow down and allow the defensive back to catch up and make a play.

Tannehill and Wallace spent time in the offseason working together on big plays. The pair have the potential to take Miami's offense under Bill Lazor to new heights in 2014 once they prove they are consistently on the same page.

"It's going to come," Wallace said confidently. "It's going to present itself again in two weeks (during the regular season). We're going to have a lot more opportunities. Hopefully, we can cash in and get a lot more touchdowns than last year."
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins' merry-go-round at kicker continues.

Miami signed kicker Jake Rogers on Monday, the team announced. Rogers is Miami's fourth kicker since the start of training camp. Strangely, the Dolphins have had injury issues at the position this summer.

Incumbent kicker Caleb Sturgis remains sidelined with a groin injury, and John Potter injured his hip in last weekend’s preseason win against the Dallas Cowboys. The Dolphins also had Danny Hrapmann for approximately two weeks in training camp before he was released.

Sturgis, a 2013 draft pick, is expected to take over the job once healthy. But Miami's Week 1 kicker when they face the New England Patriots remains uncertain.
MIAMI -- If Saturday night’s preseason game was considered the dress rehearsal, the Miami Dolphins' offense may want to try on a few more outfits.

The Dolphins' starting offense had too many shaky moments in Miami's 25-20 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Sun Life Stadium. Miami’s first-team offense scored just three points on six drives. Dolphins’ starters played the entire first half and the opening drive of the third quarter, which ended on a poor interception by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill throwing into double coverage.

“I thought we’d score more points, quite frankly,” head coach Joe Philbin said candidly. “I didn’t think we’d end up with three points when we took the first offensive unit out at the beginning of the third quarter. I was expecting more production from them from a points perspective. We moved the ball well, but at the end of the game you’ve got to have points on the board, and I didn’t think we did that well.”

Miami’s offense has experienced growing pains this summer under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. There have been good moments -- such as the opening drive in the preseason opener – as well as questionable moments.

Lazor has pushed this group hard during the offseason, training camp and the preseason. But the time for experimentation is almost over. The Dolphins must figure out what they’re good at and capable of in order to be successful. Miami has one more preseason game Thursday against the St. Louis Rams before they host Tom Brady and the rival New England Patriots in Week 1 of the regular season.

The best part of Miami's offense Saturday was its running game. Knowshon Moreno made an impressive Dolphins debut by leading all rushers with 64 yards on 10 carries (6.4 yard average). Lamar Miller also rushed for 34 yards on seven carries. As a team, Miami rushed for 200 yards total against arguably the worst defense in the NFL.

Miami’s offense showed some flashes but certainly not enough to be fully comfortable heading into the regular season. Consistency in both passing and running will be key for the Dolphins' long-term success.

“I think we’re close,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said of the offense. “You know we definitely need to take advantage of these next two weeks. You know, we have the time for a reason and we have to take advantage of it. That’s on myself and how I play, and every other guy on this team.”
MIAMI -- Can one strong preseason game supersede an entire offseason and training camp?

That is the dilemma currently facing the Miami Dolphins with running backs Knowshon Moreno and incumbent starter Lamar Miller.

Moreno
Moreno made an impressive Miami debut Saturday night during a 25-20 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. He led all rushers with 64 yards on 10 carries (6.4-yard average). Moreno also showed good vision, burst and the ability to finish runs in his first game of 2014. These are things Miller struggled with this during the previous two preseason games.

However, Miller has been the most consistent running back in practices, dating back to organized team activities in the spring. Miller also has been the healthier tailback -- and the most available. Moreno struggled this spring on a gimpy knee and wasn't in the best of shape. He’s only now rounding into form in late August following recent knee surgery.

But Moreno’s performance against Dallas certainly was enough to make Miami’s coaching staff rethink their depth chart at running back. Should Moreno be the starter in Week 1 of the regular season?

“We haven’t released anything,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said after the game of his tailback situation. “We’re still evaluating right up until we name our starter. I thought [Moreno] played well.”

This is certainly an interesting situation for the Dolphins. When they released their first official depth chart this summer, Moreno was listed as the fourth running back. Some of it was a farce because he hadn’t done much in training camp up until that point. But Moreno, at best, was the No. 2 running back heading into Miami’s third preseason game.

Now, expect a lot of chatter in South Florida about making Moreno the No. 1 running back. He’s coming off a career year in 2013 with the AFC champion Denver Broncos and showed some of that form against Dallas. Meanwhile, Miller didn’t flourish in his first season as a starter last year and remains a question mark.

“I can’t control where I am on the depth chart,” Moreno explained. “That’s all about the coaches, and they have to do those things. I just have to come out and prepare and get ready for each games. I think all us running backs are prepared to be No. 1.”

Starter or not, expect Moreno to be a key cog in Miami’s offense. He brings a physical element to the Dolphins they haven’t had since Ricky Williams.

The Dolphins will use the next 10 days of practices to make the call on their starting running back before they host the New England Patriots Sept. 7 in the regular-season opener.

Observation Deck: Miami Dolphins

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
10:20
PM ET

MIAMI -- Until Saturday night, the Miami Dolphins were left to wonder what their running game looks like at full strength under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Miami had gone without Knowshon Moreno, a key free-agent pickup, the entire preseason due to knee surgery.

But Moreno made an impressive 2014 debut in Saturday's 25-20 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Moreno rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries (good for a 6.4-yard average) in his Dolphins debut. Moreno ran strong between the tackles and added a new dimension to the Dolphins' offense. He showed good vision, burst through the hole, and wasn't afraid to punish defenders at the end of runs.

Moreno is competing with incumbent starter Lamar Miller (34 rushing yards) and perhaps closed the distance with this preseason performance. Miami hopes Moreno's output Saturday is a taste of things to come in the regular season.

Here are some other thoughts on the Dolphins' third preseason game:
  • It was a mixed bag from Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who completed 13-of-21 passes for 119 yards and one interception in the dress rehearsal game. The third-year quarterback did a decent job of moving the Dolphins' offense down the field, but sloppy play kept points off the board. Tannehill threw his interception into double coverage while Miami was driving down the field in the third quarter on his final throw of the night. Tannehill also completed a pass to tight end Dion Sims, who fumbled the ball in the first half to stall another drive.
  • The Dolphins’ starting defense held up well against a talented and dangerous Cowboys’ offense. Miami held Dallas’ offense to just six points in the first half when starters were on the field. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo looked befuddled at times by Miami’s defense. Romo was 10-of-18 passing for 87 yards in the game and was sacked three times. Dolphins starting defensive ends Cameron Wake (two sacks) and Olivier Vernon (one sack) got to Romo.
  • In addition to Moreno, Dolphins starting tight end Charles Clay also made his 2014 debut. Clay tweaked his knee during Miami's team scrimmage earlier this month and missed the first two preseason games. Clay played in the first quarter and recorded one reception for 18 yards.
  • The Dolphins still have a lot of work to do on special teams. Dallas reeled off big returns Saturday, including a 50-yard kickoff return from Cowboys receiver Dwayne Harris in the first quarter. Miami rookie receiver Jarvis Landry also fumbled a punt return that he later recovered. The Dolphins also had a punt blocked, but it was called back due to a Dallas penalty. On top of that, Miami kicker John Potter also injured his hip in the first half and didn't finish the game. Punter Brandon Fields performed kickoffs in the second half. It was a rough night for Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi, who certainly has a lot to talk about with his group next week.
  • Miami starting middle linebacker Koa Misi was a late scratch Saturday night with a shoulder injury. He practiced during the week but was held out against Dallas. The Dolphins started backup linebacker Jason Trusnik in place of Misi. Dolphins kick returner Marcus Thigpen, kicker Caleb Sturgis and running backs Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee were also among the key players who didn’t suit up for Miami Saturday night.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider