Five Positives from the Dolphins Preseason Opener
Before I get started, I want to let it be known that in no way, shape or form was I impressed by Miami's effort on Saturday night as they kicked off their 2010 preseason against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Last year, the Bucs were one of the worst teams in football, and Miami should have dominated them in the first quarter, which they didn't.
However, I did find five positives from the game that give me hope for the upcoming season:
Ronnie Brown Was Back and Running Hard
It was Ronnie Brown's first action since injuring his foot in Week 10 match-up against the Buccaneers last season.
Although I question the use of his services in a meaningless game— especially in the weather that the Dolphins played in on Saturday—it was good to see him back. The offensive line did him no favors, but he still had a nice 20 yards on five carries.
After two major season ending injuries in the last three years, this may be the last chance for the talented back to stake his claim as a mainstay in the Miami offense. As one of my favorite players from the last decade, here's hoping that he stays healthy and plays to his full potential.
There May Be Some Good Team Depth
Despite a poor showing from most of the starters, the backups played well, allowing Miami to take the lead and preserve a 10-7 victory.
The Dolphins lone touchdown came from fourth back Lex Hilliard. Although Hilliard only rushed for 89 yards on 23 carries last year, two of the three backs in front of him had major season ending injuries last year, and the other guy is a 33-year-old who has spent part of the last six years on a pot smoking retreat in India and the CFL and has served multiple suspensions.
Needless to say, Hilliard may need to get some reps.
On the defensive side, Nate Ness did everything he could to secure a roster spot. He was a wild man, making tackles all over the field, forcing fumbles, and breaking up passes.
If he doesn't make the team, he will not be on the practice squad. He is too good to not play for someone. Hopefully Miami's front office realizes this.
The Rookies Were Making Plays
In a game where veteran guys like Brandon Marshall looked like rookies, at least three rookies looked like they could be key contributors on Miami's 53 man roster.
First round pick Jared Odrick was a force on the defensive line, and made a big play when he recovered a Derrick Ward fumble in the second quarter.
Linebacker Koa Misi was active and got a couple of good hits in there.
Fifth rounder Nolan Carol, who has dazzled in training camp, was able to carry that success over into live game play, and had a great game. He will be challenging for a nickelback spot alongside veterans Jason and Will Allen.
Holy Patrick Turner Sighting Batman!
The one time highly touted high school recruit, who severly underperformed at USC, was so lost in practice last season that he barely got a chance to dress in his rookie campaign with the Dolphins.
But on Saturday night he began his month long quest to secure a roster spot by making a great play en route to a 34-yard reception. He finished the game with two catches for 44 yards, and was targeted a team high five times.
If Herm Edwards was the coach of the Dolphins, I think we all know what he would say.
The Special Team Skill Players Played Well
While most of Miami's starters fell victim to the harsh elements, the special teamers did not.
Kicker Dan Carpenter was one for one on field goals and extra points respectively, but punter Brandon Fields really stole the show. He booted a plethora of great punts, with his best being a 63-yard beauty in the first quarter.
All in all, there weren't many bright spots, but hey, the Dolphins are back! That has to count for something, right?
They will need to play much better to beat most teams in the league, especially when the games count for real. But some guys played well and they escaped without any major injuries.
The team will improve from this game, as it has been known to do under the Sporano regime.