Well everyone, the wait is finally over and the Miami Dolphins 2016 campaign officially begins in beautiful East Rutherford, New Jersey, as first year head coach Adam Gase will seek his first career win against the New York Giants.
While the spotlight will certainly shine heavily on fifth-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins newly reformatted offense, both Adam Gase and Tom Coughlin’s replacement, Ben McAdoo, will rely heavily on those competing for roster spots in their preseason debuts.
With running back Arian Foster out of the game, and defensive end Cameron Wake not expected to play, look for young players at both positions to come out firing.
Players to watch
1. Cleyon Laing
Have the Dolphins scouts found another star transitioning from the CFL?
The 25-year old former Iowa State standout set career highs with the Toronto Argonauts in 2015. He recorded 41 tackles, 9 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in 18 games. His impactful season for Toronto earned him a nomination for Top Canadian in the 2015 CFL Awards, and his high motor and playmaker attitude caught the attention of multiple teams, including the Jets, Redskins, Chargers, Saints, and the Patriots– before he landed a spot on the Dolphins roster.
The Dolphins’ boast a crowded and talented defensive line coming into the 2016 season, so Laing will have to impress coaches throughout preseason if he intends on keeping his talents in South Beach.
2. Kenyan Drake
Kenyan Drake, who suffered a hamstring injury last Friday, has not practiced since. More importantly, this most recent injury is now his eighth hamstring injury since freshman year at the University of Alabama. The Dolphins 3rd round selection will have a lot to prove throughout preseason, and with veteran Arian Foster out of game 1, the time is now!
(6:22 PM: Update: Kenyan Drake will miss game-1.)
3. Damien Williams
Damien Williams, is another running back worth keeping an eye on tonight. The former Oklahoma standout has an all-around solid game, and is easily the best blocker among the Dolphins’ current roster. Williams has shown he’s a versatile player in his four seasons with Miami– but has done little to prove he’s deserving of a heavier workload. Williams was my selection for “breakout candidate” of preseason, and after a solid scrimmage last week– he’s continuing to prove I may be right.
4. Jakeem Grant
Jakeem Grant aka “Mighty Mouse” has been sporadic throughout training camp to say the least. At 5’6″, it’s hard to believe Grant can be a contribution on offensive or special teams — until you see him in open space! He’s had some drops and overshot routes throughout camp, but Adam Gase knows there’s room for a player like Grant. The question now is where?
5. Laremy Tunsil
Did you really think I wouldn’t mention Tunsil?
After a video emerged of Larmey smoking pot, moments before the start of the draft, the Dolphins 13th overall pick in the 2016 draft seemed like a hand delivered gift from the football gods to fix their offensive lines woes. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case for Tunsil, who flat out isn’t a better LT than Brandon Albert , and hasn’t yet proven he can be a starting guard.
The former Ole Miss standout should get a giant workload throughout preseason at both positions, but for now the Dolphins first round pick seems to be only a second string player.