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.
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