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Fins Set To Open Preseason Against Bucs

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Miami Dolphins

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Friday evening on CBS4, the 2012 Miami Dolphins will finally take the field to unveil a new offense, defense, quarterback, and head coach against in-state rival, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Fins underwent a complete facelift in the offseason starting with getting rid of last year’s coaching staff and bringing in new head coach Joe Philbin to take the reins of a franchise that has been listing in recent years.

Philbin brought with him the West Coast offense, a new offensive coordinator in Mike Sherman, and has switched the team defense from a base 3-4 to a 4-3 base defense. Many of the players remain the same, but it’s going to be a completely different team starting Friday night against the Bucs.

For one, the quarterback under center will not be the same as the one who finished off last season for the Dolphins. Free agent acquisition David Garrard is the likely starter for Game 1 of the preseason and from all reports looks like the player he once was in Jacksonville.

  • The Miami Dolphins battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday night at 7 p.m. CBS4 will be broadcasting the game in English and Spanish through SAP!
  • La batalla Miami Dolphins Bucaneros de Tampa Bay la noche del viernes a las 7 pm CBS4 estarán transmitiendo el juego en Inglés y Español a través de SAP! Haga clic aquí para obtener más.

Garrard was out of football last season while recovering from a back injury. His return this season to the likely position of starting quarterback gives the Fins a signal-caller with playoff experience and who has a career completion percentage of 61.6 percent.

It also doesn’t hurt that Garrard hasn’t thrown more interceptions than touchdowns since his rookie season in the league.

The Fins finished last season with Matt Moore under center and he rallied the team to a 6-3 finish. He’s still on the roster and is listed as the top backup to Garrard on the Dolphins’ first depth chart of the year.

The speculation has been that Moore might be expendable for the right price thanks in large part to the presence of rookie Ryan Tannehill. The first-round draft pick is expected to become the Fins’ starting quarterback at some point, but he first has to get past Garrard and Moore.

The Fins will have a stacked running back corps behind Garrard. Reggie Bush is coming off his first 1,000 yard rushing season and has looked like a completely reborn player since he stepped foot in Davie. His top backup, Daniel Thomas brings the power to Miami’s rushing attack.

The most intriguing back for local Dolphins fans will be Lamar Miller. The former University of Miami standout could contribute immediately to the Fins as either a kick returner or a punt returner. He could also see the field if his pass blocking is good enough for the pro game.

The wide receiving corps that steps on the field as starters against the Bucs will have two new faces in Legedu Naanee and Chad Johnson. Both players have plenty to prove, especially the enigmatic Johnson who is looking to recapture his old glory from Cincinnati here in his hometown of Miami.

Naanee has reportedly looked excellent in camp and is said to be the Fins’ top blocking receiver. Johnson has displayed flashes of looking like the receiver he used to be, which would be a welcome addition for the Dolphins.

Rounding out the starting wide receivers will be Davone Bess who simply has the best hands on the team and has been the most consistent receiver over the last several years. Bess has averaged 65 catches per season over his four year career and will once again man the slot position in the offense.

The Dolphins offensive line will return the entire left half of the line and have a completely new right side of the line. Left tackle Jake Long, left guard Richie Incognito, and center Mike Pouncey form a solid corps and now have the added addition of veteran guard Artis Hicks and rookie Jonathan Martin.

Martin was drafted out of Stanford as a left tackle, but has been moved to right tackle where head coach Joe Philbin has said he has been a quick study and will be the team’s starting right tackle, which is music to the ears of Dolphins quarterbacks and fans.

Defensively, the team returns all of the players along the defensive front seven, but some will be in new positions. Defensive tackle Paul Soliai will man the middle, but will also be joined in the middle by Randy Starks at the other defensive tackle spot. At defensive end, Cameron Wake will man the left side of the line to create havoc for quarterbacks while Jared Odrick will man the right defensive end position.

The linebacking corps will be similar to last season with Karlos Dansby manning the middle and Kevin Burnett and Koa Misi flanking him to each side. The defensive front seven is probably the Dolphins’ strength heading into Friday night’s first game of the preseason.

The secondary has been in flux ahead of the Buccaneers game. Last year’s starting cornerback Vontae Davis was demoted down the depth chart due to poor conditioning. He’s still the Fins’ best pure cover corner and will likely climb back up to a starter by the end of camp.

In Davis’ place, free agent acquisition Richard Marshall will start opposite returning starter Sean Smith. The duo, along with Davis, should alleviate some concerns for the secondary, especially having to face Tom Brady twice a year.

  • The Miami Dolphins battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday night at 7 p.m. CBS4 will be broadcasting the game in English and Spanish through SAP!
  • La batalla Miami Dolphins Bucaneros de Tampa Bay la noche del viernes a las 7 pm CBS4 estarán transmitiendo el juego en Inglés y Español a través de SAP! Haga clic aquí para obtener más.

However, as new as the Dolphins are, the Buccaneers are just as green. The Bucs hired former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano to instill discipline and bring the Bucs back to the Super Bowl glory years of the early 2000’s.

Schiano has said he wants a power running game to help ease the burden on returning starting quarterback Josh Freeman.

The Bucs went about building that running game at the line of scrimmage. The Bucs return a solid offensive line that was bolstered by the addition of Carl Nicks in the offseason. Behind the line, the Bucs will have LeGarrete Blount as the hammer and Doug Martin as the flash to try and light up the scoreboard.

While power running will be a focus, the Bucs’ acquisition of stud wide receiver Vincent Jackson will give Tampa a downfield threat that could be deadly off play-action fakes by Freeman, who has the arm strength to hit Jackson in stride deep down the field.

Defensively, the Bucs are still a work in progress. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy have the pedigree, but have yet to put it all together on the field. Roy Miller returns as a massive defensive tackle, but the left defensive end position is still in flux.

The Bucs secondary could be a great strength of the team, if starting cornerback Aqib Talib escapes major charges from an off-field incident last year. Talib has the talent, but has never matured into the top notch cornerback he could be.

Opposite Talib is veteran Eric Wright who has played well for numerous teams. The Bucs moved Ronde Barber to safety and he could form a superb tandem with Bucs first round pick Mark Barron out of Alabama.

The Bucs trade up for Barron and hope that he can be the playmaker they haven’t had since John Lynch manned the defensive backfield.

Tampa Bay and Miami will lace them up and hit the field Friday night for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

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