The Miami Dolphins held off the Atlanta Falcons 23-20 in both teams’ 2017 preseason debuts on Thursday night. Here are five super-quick takeaways from the Fins’ perspective.
- Encouraging signs from Charles Harris; but major concern for Raekwon McMillan. Miami’s first-round draft choice flashed at times on Thursday night, but a knee injury to the second-rounder could end up overshadowing any positives from the first preseason game. Especially when matched against players with inferior talent, Harris flashed signs of his pass-rushing talents. On one play in the second quarter, Harris beat his man around the edge. On another play, he showed hustle on pursuit. With Cam Wake, Andre Branch and Harris, the Dolphins could have one of the most feared pass-rush trios in the NFL in 2017. The news for second-rounder Raekwon McMillan, however, was not good. This was supposed to be a great opportunity for McMillan, 20, to play middle linebacker and call the plays but he was injured before even taking one snap on defense. McMillan injured his right knee on a punt coverage and although he walked off with trainers, there was great fear about the seriousness of the injury.
- Davon Godchaux plays with effort and determination. The rookie fifth-rounder from LSU drew the starting assignment ahead of Jordan Phillips and picked up where he left off in training camp. Dolphins coaches feel Godchaux is strong and physical, knocks offensive linemen back and plays with a violent temperament. Conversely, it is clear that Phillips does not play with enough of a consistent motor and is in danger of flat-out being passed by Godchaux. Godchaux and Phillips each had at least one penalty and they saw some time on the field together. Hard to know if Phillips will ever reach his potential.
- One really nice throw for Brandon Doughty, but… Doughty connected with Leonte Carroo on a nice touchdown pass, but in general, he still looked shaky in the first half. Doughty was overthrowing at times, throwing high at times, off rhythm at times and had one very memorable mistake. Early in the second quarter, Doughty scrambled to his left and tried to float a pass to Jakeem Grant that was instead intercepted by De’Vondre Campbell. It was just a terrible decision and a terrible pass. Doughty should have thrown the ball away or just kept it and ran. Doughty had a nice training camp practice on Tuesday, but in general has been unremarkable at the start of his second season.
- Leonte Carroo, Jakeem Grant hold onto 4th and 5th wide receiver spots. For one night, anyway. Carroo made a really nice adjustment in the air on the touchdown play from Doughty. Carroo looks like a completely different player one year after entering the league. He looks faster. He’s running sharper routes. He’s getting off the line of scrimmage faster. And he’s playing to his strengths, which is to use his physical strength. As of now, Carroo is in line to be Miami’s fourth receiver. Grant made a nice leaping catch from Doughty in the second quarter. Grant, who is only 5-feet-7, really seems much more comfortable since moving to outside receiver.
- Tackling still a concern. Even though a penalty nullified a long touchdown pass by Atlanta early in the second half, three players – Lafayette Pitts, Jordan Lucas and Maurice Smith – all had shots at a receiver but failed to bring him down. At halftime, coach Adam Gase flat-out said that once again the Dolphins need to tackle better. One player who did come as advertised was defensive end William Hayes, who could be one of the most under-the-radar additions in the AFC. Kiko Alonso also made a nice tackle on a sideline-to-sideline chase in the first half. If McMillan is seriously injured, Alonso and/or veteran Lawrence Timmons, along with Mike Hull, are going to have to fill a void.
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