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MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – The third preseason game is generally considered the ‘tune-up’ game of the exhibition schedule.
With just a couple weeks before these battles of the gridiron begin to count, this will be the last opportunity for many first team players to go up against top-level talent that isn’t a teammate.
The game should also hold some meaning for the Miami Dolphins as they’re hosting a team that has handled them mightily during their most recent meetings.
Miami has lost to the Baltimore Ravens twice in two years by a combined score of 78-6.
There is no way to sugarcoat that. It’s ugly. Both games were just as awful as the scores indicate (38-6 in 2016, 40-0 in 2017).
They exposed a glaring weakness in the Dolphins; a lack of toughness that a team like Baltimore will take full advantage of.
It’s a challenge that Miami head coach Adam Gase has been looking forward to taking on.
“If nobody realizes who we’re playing and the type of team we’re playing, then they don’t know the NFL,” Gase said. “Guys are aware that they’ve played these guys enough times, even if they’ve come from a different team, that those guys have a reputation of being physical. Everybody knows they’ve got to bring it this week.”
STORYLINES TO WATCH
- Will Frank Gore play? Coach Gase wouldn’t say whether or not Gore would make his preseason debut, but it’s clear that the 35-year-old former Miami Hurricanes star can’t wait to take the field at Hard Rock Stadium wearing the colors of his hometown Dolphins. “Oh, I’m aware. I am aware,” Gase said with a smile. “I never said I wasn’t [playing him]. I just know he’s played a lot of football. He’s a running back. I’ve seen a lot of veteran running backs go through the entire preseason not playing and go Week 1 and they’re fine. I know Frank wants to get out there and get hit a couple of times and probably get in the stadium and kind of get that first time over with.”
- Raekwon McMillan is being counted on to carry a heavy load at linebacker for the Dolphins despite having yet to play a down of regular season NFL football. He’s flashed some solid play but inconsistency has been his main issue. “He does a good job,” Gase said. “He’s been around for a year; he hasn’t played. He does a good job with the mental side of it. It’s just really putting in classroom [and the] field together [and] reacting. At that position, sometimes it takes a minute to really get going. I think we’re progressing the way we want.”
- Stopping the run has been a big problem. Miami is ranked 31st out of 32 NFL teams during the preseason, allowing 5.1 yards per run. The defensive tackle position has struggled in this area, and guys to watch on Saturday include Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux and Akeem Spence.
- Keep an eye on reserve running back Senorise Perry. He’s on the roster bubble but has played well during the preseason and should see a good amount of playing time against Baltimore.
- The battle between rookie kickers Jason Sanders and Greg Joseph has been pretty even since the open of training camp. Sanders has made 5 of his 6 preseason field goal attempts (missing from 53 yards away) and his only extra point try. Joseph has connected on field goals from 48 and 54 yards out.