The Miami Dolphins opened up their preseason against the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. We did not get a good look at the offense as starters only played one possession. Also, left guard Ted Larsen, right tackle Ja’wuan James, left tackle Laremy Tunsil, center Mike Pouncey, running back Jay Ajayi and newly signed quarterback Jay Cutler all sat out for the Dolphins. While Miami looked out of sync on offense, which can be expected for the first preseason game, they did have some highlight reel plays made by players fighting for a roster spot.
The first preseason is usually for guys fighting for a roster spot or trying to earn themselves more playing time. There were a few pleasant surprises as well as disappointments. The game started very slow for Miami as a three-and-out ended the starters’ night on offense very quickly.
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On the opening drive punt, rookie middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan went down for the season with a torn ACL. New defensive end William Hayes looked fast and strong. He did what Miami would expect from him in the run game. Hayes had some nice tackles in the run game along with pressure in passing game.
One player who disappointed when starters were in was cornerback Xavien Howard. Howard was beat on two separate third downs. During one play, he let his man catch the ball, hit the ground, get up and gain 10 more yards without even attempting to tag him down.
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Young Guys Impress Early
Rookies Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, Damore’ea Stringfellow all impressed. So did second year wide receiver Jakeem Grant, who leaped high into air to pull down a nice 3rd down reception to convert the first down. Godchaux seemed to be disruptive all night getting easy pressure using his strength and hands to push back the interior lineman.
No one made a bigger play to help themselves earn a roster spot than Stringfellow. The undrafted rookie free agent out of Ole Miss pulled down a 99 yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback David Fales. Stringfellow caught the pass at about the 40 yard line and used speed few thought he had to out-race the Falcons defender to the end zone. He made a nice name for himself early on. Stringfellow is a name to keep in the back of your mind through the preseason. He will look to add on to his performance to make the team.
First round pick Charles Harris had a solid debut as well. Harris looked fast getting off ball, flushing the quarterback out of pocket a few times. His run support didn’t look as weak as advertised although he was playing against the second and third team.
Overall it was a sloppy performance from Miami in their first preseason game. Look for their starters to get more reps in Week 2 and possibly even a Jay Cutler appearance.