MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – It’ll be a lost season for rookie linebacker Raekwon McMillan.
The Miami Dolphins’ second round pick out of Ohio State suffered a knee injury in the preseason opener against the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons at Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday. It was a night to forget for the first-team defense that included a dink and dunk first drive by the Falcons and a looks-too-easy touchdown.
McMillan tore the ACL in his right knee while covering the first punt of the game. He collided with a teammate and his leg planted awkwardly in the ground. He’ll miss the entire 2017 season.
It’s a crushing blow to a player who was trending towards a major role on Miami’s defense. McMillan had excelled so far during training camp and appeared to be earning a starting job in the base defense.
The question as to why McMillan, a potential starter and key element to the future, was playing special teams, is one that needed to be addressed.
“I was kind of really asking what happened,” Gase said. “We were talking about how he was going to have to possibly be on that team. We had to give him some reps, especially in the game. It’s tough to see a young player go down, not knowing what happened.”
As for the game, both teams used their starters sparingly.
Matt Ryan led the Falcons down the field quickly on their first drive, moving almost effortlessly through the Dolphins starting defense.
Newly extended running back Devonta Freeman caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ryan and Atlanta took a quick 7-0 lead on Miami after a 5-play, 2:20 drive.
Miami answered back on their second drive after going three-and-out to open the game. Brandon Doughty led the Dolphins on a 10-play, 42-yard drive capped off by a 36-yard Andrew Franks field goal.
Late in the first half Doughty found Leonte Carroo down the right sideline for a 33-yard touchdown.
Carroo made a great adjustment while the ball was in the air to run past the defender and make the catch before walking into the end zone.
“Carroo is a heck of a player. He’s here for a reason,” Doughty said. “I just tried to give him a chance at it. I tried to make him or nobody was going to catch it so [I just wanted to] give him a shot at the ball.”
The Dolphins did complete a nice second half comeback as quarterback David Fales hit on several long passes, including a 99-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter.
Backed up on their own one-yard line, Fales unleashed a bomb down the left sideline to Damore’ea Stringfellow, who took it to the house, giving Miami a 23-20 lead that would not be relinquished.
Davon Godchaux started at defensive tackle over Jordan Phillips. Godchaux had a sack negated by illegal hands to the face penalty in final minute of 2nd quarter.
Miami’s special teams coverage will need some work after giving up returns of 39, 26, 16 and 26 yards in the first half alone.
Storm Johnson, a longshot to make the Dolphins final roster, had a 44-yard kickoff return.
Alterraun Verner looked solid during limited snaps and had one nice pass breakup. He should be a main rotation player in Miami’s secondary this season.
Kenyan Drake continued to show off his quickness, as he has during much of training camp.
Brandon Doughty showed why he’s on the roster but not trusted by the coaching staff to be on the second team. He showed flashes of solid play with a few nice throws but overall his decision making seems too slow and accuracy was again an issue.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
David Fales was very efficient, despite a couple of mistakes. He finished 8-of-17 for 184 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, but felt he could’ve done better.
“I wish I would have started a little faster on my end, there’s always something you got to clean up,” he said. “There’s definitely a couple things that I felt were a little sloppy on my end so I just have to get better, watch it and get better.”