There is a lot of concern around Miami Dolphins camp these days.
Too many injuries. Way too many injuries.
It will be interesting to see how the various injuries affect how long Miami uses projected starters in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Here are three position groups of great concern to the Dolphins tonight:
How does Jay Cutler play in his first game action since he shut down his playing career and began preparing for a broadcasting career? Does Matt Moore play or does Cutler play into the second quarter or the entire first half, with youngsters Brandon Doughty and/or David Fales cleaning up? Does Cutler look like the gunslinger we’ve seen in the past? How expansive is Miami’s playbook on Thursday night? Supposedly Cutler knows all the plays, just not all the names of the plays. Does he seem comfortable? Does he seem rattled? Does he make good decisions? Does he provide a reason for Dolphins fans and more importantly, his teammates and coaches, to believe he can be a capable replacement for Ryan Tannehill this season? Or does his performance spur widespread panic?
Sorry to remind you that like Tannehill, projected starting middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan is out for the season with a knee injury. But, yeah, he’s out for the season with a knee injury. Former undrafted linebacker Mike Hull, who is tough and scrappy and hard-nosed (and those are not backhanded compliments) will be given first crack at replacing McMillan on run downs. But is he the answer as Miami’s third linebacker? It seems if the Dolphins add a linebacker in free agency they’d like it to be a thumper, which would allow them to keep Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons on the outside. The Dolphins need to be better against the run in 2017. The McMillan plan ended before it even began. If Miami is trounced on the ground by Baltimore’s running game… the pressure to add another linebacker will mount.
The interior of Miami’s offensive line is always cause for concern. Cutler needs adequate protection. If center Mike Pouncey doesn’t play and second-string center (and likely starting guard) Kraig Urbik doesn’t play, center Jake Brendel must hold up. If right tackle Ja’Wuan James doesn’t play, tackle Sam Young must hold up. If center/guard Anthony Steen plays left guard in place of injured Ted Larsen, he must be solid. This is not the offensive line Miami had hoped to have in 2017. It’s been a bit under the radar because of so many concerns elsewhere, but Miami’s plan to outscore opponents with high-powered offensive weapons like DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Jay Ajayi goes completely out the window if its offensive line in any way regresses from last season, when, frankly, it was average.
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