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Three things to watch as Dolphins battle Panthers Friday night

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Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins have traveled north to Charlotte to take on the Panthers in their second preseason game of 2018.

Here are three things we will be watching on Friday night:

Progress of Ryan Tannehill/the offense with him

We only saw a small dose of Tannehill (one possession) last week and there were some positives in his first game action in 18 months. Tannehill ran the Fins no huddle early completing 4-6 passes for 32 yards. He mixed some throws to Kenny Stills and Danny Amendola and Miami moved into field goal range before rookie Jason Sanders misfired from 53 yards out.

Now, it’s expected that Tannehill will play at least the whole first quarter, as he works his way back from his ACL surgery.

Kenyan Drake got the start in the backfield last week, and veteran Frank Gore was inactive for the game. The 35 year old Gore is expected to see his first action against what is a stout Carolina front seven on defense. The Dolphins attempting to establish some kind of ground attack will be key not just Friday night, but moving forward.

It’s a good test of the progress that Tanehill, the offense as a whole and new coordinator Dowell Loggains have made.

Handling Christian McCaffery

The Panthers have made no secret that they want to get second year RB and former first round pick, Christian McCaffery, many more touches this season. And McCaffery may be a better receiver out of the backfield than runner, especially between the tackles. McCaffery debuted (above) with four carries for 11 yards and two catches for 29 yards in Buffalo last week.

We suspect that he will play much, if not all of, the first half against the likes Cam Wake, Kiko Alonso, Davon Godchaux and Raewkon McMillian.

It will be a great test for Miami, which had trouble stopping the Bucs’ Peyton Barber in the first half last week, to try to handle the small but explosive McCaffery.

Dolphins focus and attention to detail

Dating back to their “dress rehearsal” practice at Hard Rock Stadium before preseason game one, the Fins had trouble keeping their poise, not committing silly unforced penalties.

How sharp will they look tonight? Are there false starts? Will there be dropped balls, missed assignments, blown coverages, etc.?

It is, after all the second preseason game and there should be some improvement in these areas.

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Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.

Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:

In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.

However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.

As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan

He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.

Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.

In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.

As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.

Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.

It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.

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Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.

The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:

The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.

Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.

Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.

Colorado’s athletic director Rick George said in a statement Sunday night,

“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.” 

The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.

Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.

Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.

Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.

Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.

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