What To Watch For: Dolphins Face Falcons In Preseason Opener

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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins have yet to play a meaningful down of football and yet training camp has been full of twists and turns.

The biggest jolt came last Thursday, exactly one week before Miami’s first preseason game.

Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill re-injured his left knee on a non-contact play which put his season in jeopardy.

It’s the same knee that Tannehill partially tore the ACL and MCL, causing him to miss the final three regular season games of 2016 and Miami’s playoff loss in Pittsburgh.

The injury started a series of events that ultimately led to the Dolphins (mainly, head coach Adam Gase) luring Jay Cutler out of retirement.

Miami’s quarterback situation has dominated the headlines surrounding the team, causing some of the important roster battles to become secondary news.

With the Dolphins about to embark on their first preseason game of 2017, here are some of the players and storylines to watch on Thursday night against Atlanta.

QUARTERBACK PLAY

Obviously this will be something that is focused on throughout the preseason. Tannehill’s injury forced everyone to take a hard look at the Dolphins depth at quarterback, which clearly was not viewed as strong as Miami was quick to go after a new starting QB.

Cutler will not play on Thursday, and Matt Moore likely won’t see a ton of snaps.

2f2a9958 What To Watch For: Dolphins Face Falcons In Preseason Opener

Matt Moore #8 and Brandon Doughty #6 participate in quarterback drills during day 8 of Miami Dolphins training camp at the team’s practice facility in Davie, Florida. (Source: WQAM)

The majority of the game will go to second-year pro Brandon Doughty and four year veteran David Fales.

Doughty was with Miami last season and acted as the team’s third quarterback for most of the year, but when Tannehill went down in December the Dolphins signed T.J. Yates instead of elevating Doughty to backup.

That says a lot about where he is viewed in the QB hierarchy in Miami.

TOP DRAFT PICKS

First round pick Charles Harris and second round pick Raekwon McMillan have been impressive so far during their time with the Dolphins.

McMillian is already penciled in as a starter on Miami’s first depth chart which was released last week.

Another rookie to watch for is defensive end Davon Godchaux. He’s listed on the depth chart as second team, behind Jordan Phillips, but Godchaux has been starting ahead of Phillips in practice.

RUNNING BACK ROTATION

With Jay Ajayi more than likely not playing on Thursday after suffering a concussion last week, reserve running backs Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams should see a decent amount of playing time.

Currently Williams is listed ahead of Drake on the depth chart.  That can be considered a good thing as the coaching staff will want to give Drake a good hard look during the preseason to see if he’s ready to take on a main role in Miami’s offense.

As of Tuesday’s practice, Ajayi was still in the concussion protocol and had not been cleared for contact.

He did dress in pads with the rest of his team and took part in individual drills, which means as soon as he’s cleared he’ll be back out there full time.

RESERVE WIDE RECEIVERS

It’s clear that Miami’s top three wide receivers are Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills.  The group could easily be considered the best pass catching trio in the NFL.

Beyond that, there is a battle going on for Miami’s last two or three receiver spots.

The next three in line are Leonte Carroo, Drew Morgan and Jakeem Grant.

Carroo and Grant were drafted by Miami last year but did little to impress during their first season with the team.

Morgan came to the Dolphins this year as an undrafted free agent but has flashed during camp and is slated as the backup slot receiver behind Landry.

Grant is having a strong training camp and along with his special teams abilities (he’ll get plenty of looks as Miami’s main kick returner), he’ll be given every opportunity to have a breakout season.

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