The preseason gets underway for the Dolphins and the Bucs in Miami on Thursday night. Both franchises took a step back in 2017 and both are eager to get a fresh start, albeit with an August game that doesn’t count.
So, we decided to look at three things to keep an eye on as everything unfolds at Hard Rock Stadium.
Ryan Tannehill returns
There is no bigger story line that the Fins QB coming off of missing the entire 2017 season with an ACL knee injury and surgery. Miami coach Adam Gase has made it no secret that injury layoff or not, it’s Tannehill’s job. And by all accounts, he has looked solid and most importantly, the knee seems fine for him to go under live fire for the first time since originally injuring it in December of 2016.
We likely will only see a series or two from Tannehill. And, he does have new teammates like veteran RB Frank Gore, WR Danny Amendola, and rookie TE Mike Gesicki to help him in the comeback.
New look Bucs defensive line
It’s no secret that the Buccaneers had to improve their D-line and pass rush, and GM Jason Licht and his staff stocked it full in the off season. DE Vinny Curry and DT Beau Allen were signed from the champion Eagles, Jason Pierre-Paul was acquired via trade from the Giants and the Bucs spent their first round pick on University of Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.
While Vea won’t play, as he nurses a calf strain from early in training camp, these improvements to go along with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy have to have Bucs fans excited.
Tonight, again in preseason, they will get to see those players out there together against an opponent.
For a unit that was last in the NFL in sacks in 2017, they have to be better this season.
And, Young Players making their debuts
As with any preseason, the Fins and the Bucs and their fans, want to see want they youngsters, particularly this high draft picks can do in a real game setting.
So, for Miami it’s rookie DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, as well as Gesicki at TE. And, they also will start LB Raekwon McMillian, who’s essentially a rookie, because he was lost for the season to a knee injury in the first preseason game last year.
For Tampa Bay, without Vea tonight, the Bucs still have explosive RB Ronald Jones and DB’s M.J. Stewart, who’s had an impressive camp so far, and Carlton Davis. All of them were all taken in the second round last April and are being counted on to help, and should see some significant playing time at Hard Rock Stadium Thursday night.
Dolphins being investigated for hiding severity of Tannehill shoulder injury
For the most part everyone already understands that the NFL’s injury report that is loosely utilized to judge whether players can play or not. For three or more decades, teams have done their best to hide the significance of important injuries from everyone, including their opponents, while listing whatever they can get away with on the injury report.
And now, the Miami Dolphins are about to be the latest team to be scrutinized for what they did report about QB Ryan Tannehill injured shoulder a week ago.
As Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald wrote on Wednesday afternoon, the league is investigating the Dolphins for having listed Ryan Tannehill as having fully participated in practice on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. But then, listed him as limited for Friday and questionable for the game:
NFL to investigate Miami Dolphins reporting of Ryan Tannehill injuryhttps://t.co/tt76zfcdng
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) October 17, 2018
Specifically at issue, according to Salguero is that Tannehill was apparently unable to throw passes for most or all of Thursday’s practice while being listed as a full participant.
Further, he did not participate at all in the Friday workout, which should have led to the Fins labeling him as “doubtful,” because they knew the extent of the injury and that he couldn’t throw.
We now know that Tannehill suffered a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder in the fourth quarter meltdown loss to the Cincinnati Bengals the week before . and really had no possibility of playing in the Chicago game as the week went on.
That’s another point of contention for the investigation, because Miami coach Adam Gase never said any of that prior to the game. However, he admitted as such after the game Sunday (Tannehill couldn’t throw/was doubtful all weekend), and repeated it on Monday, as well.
And more confirmation that the shoulder has been injured so bad is: Tannehill was still unable to practice on Wednesday and the Dolphins have already ruled him out for Sunday’s game at home with the Lions.
The Fins announced that backup Brock Osweiler will start for the second consecutive week. Osweiler threw for 380 yards, three touchdowns and led the game winning field goal drive in the final minute of overtime against Chicago.
The league does have consequences for teams not being forthcoming, especially hiding significance of injuries with the most prominent players on their roster and their injury statuses.
They have reprimanded and fined teams, like the Patriots for an example, for not being forthcoming about injuries. Coach Bill Belichick responded one year by listing 25 players on his injury report one week for an upcoming game.
Most likely, the Dolphins will get a fine, if it can be proven that they were purposely misleading everyone, including the Bears when they knew the severity of Tannehill’s injury earlier last week.
And clearly they were, and did.
Dolphins WR Albert Wilson named AFC Offensive Player of the Week
The Dolphins knew that wide receiver Albert Wilson had big play potential, and now, that he has delivered early in 2018, others are seeing that potential realized too.
Wilson was recognized on Wednesday as the AFC Offensive Player-of-the-Week coming off of his two touchdown 155 yards receiving performance in the Miami thrilling when 31 – 28 over the Bears in overtime Sunday:
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) October 17, 2018
Wilson has become known for his ability to gain yards after the catch, and his spectacular 75-yard weaving catch-and-run to the endzone tie the game late in regulation.
His big receiving day was part of Brock Osweiler filling in for injured quarterback Ryan Tannehill on short notice to throw for over 380 yards in the victory.
The Dolphins were hopeful that the additions of Wilson, Danny Amendola and drafting tight end Mike Gesicki from Penn State would provide offensive spark. So far, Amendola and Gesicki have not given much in the way of productivity.
Now, it looks like snagging Albert Wilson off Kansas City’s roster in free agency last March was the right move by VP of football Mike Tannenbaum, GM Chris Grier and coach Adam Gase.
Sunday was Wilson’s first 100 yard receiving game in the Aqua and White and he is now averaging 15.6 yards per catch through Miami’s first six games.
And, Wilson has becoming one of the top big-play threats after the catch in the AFC, he even threw a touchdown pass to Jakeem Grant on a trick play in the win over the Raiders in week two.
Look for the creativity from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains to continue to get Wilson into space and have the ability to make big plays continuing with this week’s match-up with the Detroit Lions.
Dramatic win moves Dolphins up in our Power Rankings
Our latest version of the F.F.I. Power Rankings will cause some debate. This is especially with an NFL moving into the top 3 and a brand new team making it’s debut. Take a look:
5. FIU Panthers- With the Canes, Jags and Bucs all losing, the fifth spot was up for grabs. The Panthers are currently 4-2 and on top of Conference USA’s East division. The Panthers two loses are against power five schools Miami and Indiana. FIU is led on offense by quarterback James Morgan a transfer from Bowling Green. Morgan has thrown for 1,368 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. Morgan will look to stay hot against Rice this week.
4. USF Bulls- The theme of the rest of these teams wins will be it wasn’t pretty. The Bulls needed a late last-minute drive and a pass from Blake Barnett to Tyre McCants with only several seconds left and a Coby Weiss’ 22-yard field goal with 2 seconds left to sneak by Tulsa. Jordan Cronkrite was able to rip off another big run of 66 yards but aside from that was held in check.
Barnett struggled during the game, and we even saw appearances from back up Chris Oladokun. The Bulls were able to squeak this one out and remain undefeated going into their homecoming game against UCONN.
3. Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins go from unranked to the number three spot. They were able to defeat a Bears team that has been impressive this season. The Khalil Mack-led defense had their least destructive game. Brock Osweiler threw for a career-high 380 yards and three touchdowns in a relief appearance for Ryan Tannehill, who sat out because of an injured throwing shoulder. Frank Gore had a resurgence. Albert Wilson turned two short passes into long touchdowns. Rookie kicker Jason Sanders (above) was money all day, and the Phins squeaked one out in overtime. At 4-2 they move into our top 5.
2. Florida Gators- The theme of close wins continues. The Gators were in a close one with Vanderbilt all afternoon. Tensions were high, when both coaches were yelling at each other by the Gator sideline after the benches briefly spread onto the field. The Gators were hurt by early turnovers and red zone struggles, but were able to put together enough offense to comeback for another win. Four SEC wins in a row (two on the road) is impressive. The Gators head into the bye week to prepare for a game against Georgia that now could decide the SEC East.
1. UCF Knights- The Knights had the closest of all the close calls last week, but remain in our top spot. UCF coach Josh Heupel gambled and went for it on a critical 4th down and the result was a 71-yard rushing touchdown. The Knights would take the lead in the 4th quarter. The Tigers moved to the UCF territory but, botched clock management in the final 30 seconds derailed a comeback. The Knights somehow found a way to win this game and keep the streak at 19 wins. UCF will head to East Carolina where they will look to have an easier time.
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