While everyone and their mother will focus on the Dolphins quarterback play this preseason, I know better. How well a quarterback plays in the preseason is about as useful as buying a boat in the Sahara.
If Chad Henne or any other Miami quarterback lights up the field this preseason, it’s certainly not a bad thing, but it doesn’t mean much.
Defenses are in “vanilla mode”, not willing to reveal anything before the games matter. The preseason is primarily a tryout for players on the fence of making the 53-man roster. Focus on the younger players and more specifically the rookie class rather than the veterans locked to make the roster.
Here are three things to watch beginning Friday night (7:30 PM CBS).
1. Receiver depth
Wideouts like Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess are penned in to have major roles in Miami’s offense this upcoming season, but those behind them are fighting for jobs. Brian Hartline looks to bounce back from last season’s finger injury and prove he can be a downfield weapon, while rookie Clyde “Don’t call me Edmond” Gates looks to prove his game-speed matches his timed speed (4.3 range in the 40).
Then there’s the bubble guys like Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore, and Julius Pruitt. How many receivers Miami keeps is up for debate, especially considering Reggie Bush will see plenty of time split out wide. I’d be shocked if they kept more than five on the 53-man roster, meaning two of the last three mentioned could be goners unless Hartline becomes a surprising cut.
While Wallace offers impressive size (6’4″, 225), Moore shows the most explosiveness. Pruitt is the extreme dark-horse but has been a playmaker in practice.
2. Shuffling on the offensive line
Most eyes watching the offensive line will be on rookie center Mike Pouncey, a player with a burden of expectations for a rookie. My eyes will flirt elsewhere and often land on starting right tackle Marc Colombo, a pass-blocking disaster last season with the Cowboys. If he falters, expect a hard look at Lydon Murtha, who’s filling in for the injured Jake Long at left tackle. His athletic ability intrigues and he just may be the long-term answer at right tackle.
Also something to note is how Vernon Carey adjusts to playing inside. Can he deliver the push to the elephants up front in the running game?
3. The battle at safety
Incumbent Chris Clemons didn’t make enough plays last year to solidify his starting free safety position in the secondary. The one to watch is second-year safety Reshad Jones.
Jones doesn’t have Clemons’ speed but often shows better instincts and big-play ability. He has a chance to steal a job this preseason.