PHILADELPHIA–The Dolphins have some decisions to make, and tonight’s preseason game against the Eagles will go a long way toward solidifying their depth chart.
It’s hard to know exactly how they’ll treat next week’s preseason finale given the lack of continuity they’ve had so far–some first-stringers might still need to get more game reps with each other–but this should be the most extended look at how Miami intends to go into the season.
With that said, here’s a look at three position groups of concern tonight:
Interior offensive line
The o-line concern isn’t just about the left guard spot, which remains undetermined. Jesse Davis is the leading candidate there, but still needs to hold off Jake Brendel, Anthony Steen and possibly Isaac Asiata if he makes a late jump. Beyond that, though, Miami needs to establish clear contingencies for center Mike Pouncey and right guard Jermon Bushrod. Bushrod played all 16 games last year, but he’s 33 and going into his 11th season. This will be Pouncey’s first game action since last November, and the Dolphins can’t bank on him going all 16. Brendel and Steen need to prove they’re viable backups.
This is the weirdest situation on the team. Nate Allen has been the projected starter all along, but T.J. McDonald is having a strong preseason and looks like he’ll be taking over that spot when he comes off suspension in the middle of the season. This will be Allen’s preseason debut after missing extended time with a groin injury. He had health issues the last couple seasons and hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2014.
Julius Thomas doesn’t have to get all the way back to the way he played with Denver, where he made the Pro Bowl twice, but if he gets somewhere in that neighborhood the Dolphins’ offense will be loaded. Thomas had two strong days of practice in Philadelphia, creating some optimism after what looked like a slow start in training camp (Adam Gase disputes that, of course).
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