Miami Dolphins: Winners and Losers from 2012 Preseason and Training Camp

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst ISeptember 3, 2012

Miami Dolphins: Winners and Losers from 2012 Preseason and Training Camp

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    The Miami Dolphins finished their preseason an ugly 0-4, but there were some winners from the past few weeks. While many players faltered, a few stepped up and took advantage of their opportunities to impress coaches.

    Training camp and preseason should not be weighed too heavily, but it does not appear that the Dolphins are going to have much success in the 2012-2013 season. Before we have to look forward into the regular season, here are Miami's winners and losers from August.     

Loser: Legedu Naanee

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    Naanee has been pretty awful in his preseason appearances. I'm somewhat surprised that he was kept on the roster over Roberto Wallace, Chris Hogan and Jeff Fuller.

    Naanee was average in camp, bad against Atlanta, and then had a brutal dropped pass against Dallas

    He has more experience than Wallace, Hogan and Fuller, but he has looked flat out bad so far. I wouldn't be surprised if he slides down the depth chart as the season wears on. 

Winner: Rishard Matthews

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    Matthews has been the biggest surprise of August. A seventh-round pick from Nevada, Matthews hauled in eight catches for 91 yards and a touchdown during the preseason.

    With Davone Bess being the only real sure thing for Miami's wide receiver corps, it would be nice to see Matthews and Marlon Moore get some real chances early in the regular season.  

Loser: Matt Moore

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    I would have included David Garrard in this slide as well, but it seems unfair to label him a preseason loser because of an injury. Moore, on the other hand, was healthy but still lost his starting position.

    After resurrecting the team and getting named team MVP last season, Moore has to be stung. If Garrard comes back from his injury soon, Moore could also be trade bait. Whether he is moved or not, this can't be how Moore saw things unfolding. 

Winner: Ryan Tannehill

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    Tannehill has impressed me since training camp opened. I really like what he brings to the table for the Dolphins.

    Off the field, he's quiet and humble without being boring and distant. On the field, he is athletic, poised, and has shown an ability to make the throws needed to start in the NFL.

    Miami fans should be happy with GM Jeff Ireland's choice to draft Tannehill eighth overall. His preseason stats aren't that great, but his receivers dropped numerous passes and it's hard to fault Tannehill. 

Losers: Marcus Thigpen and Steve Slaton

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    While Thigpen and Slaton both (somehow) made the final 53-man roster, neither was very impressive in August. Slaton turned 12 carries into just 48 yards without reaching the end zone at all. 

    Thigpen was brought in mostly for returning, but he averaged a rather unimpressive 23.8 yards per return on 11 attempts. With three talented running backs all playing well, there isn't much room for Thigpen and Slaton, especially if they don't elevate their games. 

    UPDATE: Slaton has been released to make room for receiver Anthony Armstrong. 

Winners: Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller

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    While Thigpen and Slaton failed to make their marks, Thomas and Miller solidified their standing on the depth chart. 

    After gaining -1 total yards on three carries in the first two preseason games, Thomas ran his way to 60 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in the final two games. He showed the powerful running ability that warranted Miami taking him in the second round in the 2011 draft.

    Although Miller's full preseason stat line of 30 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown isn't that impressive, he had 17 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown in the team's final game against Dallas. Miller also showed his versatility throughout the preseason, catching seven passes for 56 yards. 

Loser: Miami's Entire Defense

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    Miami's defense looked poor throughout the entire preseason. Beside just being outscored every game, the defense did nothing to help Tannehill or the rest of the offense. 

    Opposing teams scored nine touchdowns to Miami's four, and averaged 1.2 more yards per play than the Dolphins. Teams also tried to run often against the Dolphins (132 attempts) and were successful with 4.1 YPC. Miami also allowed opponents to convert on third down at a 41.8 percent rate, which is not acceptable.

    Things are not looking good for new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle's squad. If Miami is going to win at all this season, the entire defensive unit will have to step up in a big way.  

Winner: Kheeston Randall

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    Randall had a monster game against Dallas, registering six tackles, two TFLs and one sack. He played for pretty much the entire game and was a disruptive force at defensive tackle.

    Like fellow seventh-round pick Matthews, Randall was one of the biggest surprises of August. The former Texas Longhorn looked more confident as the month wore on, culminating in his big game against the Cowboys.  

    He finished the preseason with eight total tackles, and looked good every time he was on the field. He more than earned his spot on the 53-man roster, and should get some time when Paul Soliai needs a break.