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What to Watch in Dolphins vs. Jaguars Preseason Week 1

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What to Watch in Dolphins vs. Jaguars Preseason Week 1
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Chad Bumphis (16) gets another opportunity to prove himself against the Jaguars.

The Miami Dolphins are a step ahead of 30 other NFL teams, having played their first preseason game a week ago in the Hall of Fame game against the Dallas Cowboys.

There were plenty of storylines to come out of that game, but with such limited opportunities for the top players on the team, there are still plenty of questions left to be answered. The team has questions at left tackle, running back, defensive end, wide receiver and more.

So let's not waste our time. Here's a look at what to watch for in Friday night's preseason game.

 

Can Dion Jordan keep it going?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Dion Jordan (95) crashed the line on 13 of his 14 snaps vs. Dallas.
The Dolphins' first-round draft pick got off to a solid start last week, and naturally, fans will want to see if he can build off of that performance to have another strong showing against the Jaguars.

Jordan played 14 snaps last week, and he rushed the passer on just 10 of them, but he made an instant impact by getting to the quarterback with three pressures and by logging a successful tackle on a third-down running play.

We're not just interested in how well and how often he plays, but also in how the Dolphins use him. He was gearing up to drop into coverage on his third-down run tackle, but other than that one play, he was primarily crashing the line off the edge. Jordan was regarded for his versatility in rushing the passer and dropping into coverage.

The Dolphins probably won't open up the whole playbook with him in their second preseason game, but we could start to get a look at how the team will use him over the course of the season.

 

Battle for roster spots at wide receiver

We know Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson will all make the roster, but beyond that, there are questions as to who will be catching passes at receiver.

The Dolphins lost wide receiver Armon Binns to a torn ACL and MCL in the first week of training camp and are looking to receivers like Chad Bumphis, Marvin McNutt, Keenan Davis, Kenny Stafford, Jeff Fuller, Brian Tyms and others.

Those receivers are likely competing for about two or three roster spots.

Bumphis and Davis were the snap leaders among the backup receivers last week, and Bumphis made the biggest impact. Now that we've seen those two get a majority of the workload, we could get a feel for the preseason plan for assessing the receiving corps in this week's game. Will the Dolphins spread the snaps more evenly? Will other players get the opportunity to prove themselves worthy of a roster spot?

Perhaps Bumphis earned a longer look with his performance last week, catching five of the seven passes thrown his way for 85 yards (17 yards per reception). He worked primarily out of the slot, running 33 of his 35 routes from inside. The Dolphins might also like to see their choices in terms of receivers that could fill a backup "X" (outside) receiver role.

 

Left tackle

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Martin (above) is the Dolphins' only hope at left tackle.
Ryan Tannehill has little to worry about at wide receiver, where the Dolphins have gone to great lengths to give him reliable weapons. At left tackle, however, the contingency plan is a little less stellar.

Left tackle Jonathan Martin didn't perform awfully in the preseason opener, but he was up and down, as was to be expected. 

The same can't be said for his backup, Dallas Thomas, who got off to a rough start by giving up a pressure on Ryan Tannehill and never recovered. He allowed three combined pressures on the quarterback, according to Pro Football Focus (one sack, one hit and one hurry), and was equally ineffective in the running game.

Unless Thomas improves, the Dolphins had better hope Martin stays healthy, because he's by far the best option the team has at left tackle.

 

 

Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand or via team news releases. Salary figures courtesy of Spotrac.com.

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