Dolphins preseason Bucs

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Preseason Win vs Bucs

The Miami Dolphins began the Mike McDaniel era with a 26-24 preseason victory in Tampa Bay. The franchise’s 11th head coach (14th if you count interims) hopes to be the fifth new head man to lead Miami to the postseason in his first year with the club. Saturday night’s preseason contest against the Bucs lacked most of the top names on either side, but the game still provided plenty of excitement.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins preseason win over the Buccaneers.

Skylar Thompson Makes His Roster Case for Dolphins in Preseason Win Over the Bucs

McDaniel and the coaching staff opted to sit starter Tua Tagovailoa for the Dolphins preseason opener against the Bucs. Presumed backup Teddy Bridgewater dressed for the game, but did not see the field either. That left the quarterbacking duties to Miami’s seventh round pick from the 2022 NFL Draft, Skylar Thompson.

The former Kansas State Wildcat impressed in his debut, completing 20-of-28 passes for 218 yards and one touchdown. Thompson also rushed for 25 yards on three carries. He looked poised in the pocket and largely avoided the big mistakes throughout the evening.

One of the big questions entering the season is whether Miami will roster three quarterbacks this year.

Thompson may force the Dolphins hand in that regard following his performance in this preseason win over the Bucs. Miami probably shouldn’t chance Thompson potentially getting poached from the practice squad, a la Reid Sinnett last year. He may have earned his roster spot.

Lynn Bowden Looks Like a Valuable Piece at WR

Of all the Dolphins receivers to play in this contest, and not all of them did, Lynn Bowden Jr. looked like the player who took the most advantage of his playing time on Saturday. The Dolphins deployed Bowden in several roles during their preseason win over the Bucs, including eight offensive snaps at receiver as well as several opportunities on special teams. And he made the most of his offensive snaps.

Bowden led the Dolphins in receiving yards (55) and targets (4) on Saturday, hauling in the lone offensive touchdown. He flashed his potential on the outside with his double move against a helpless Bucs corner on the 22-yard TD catch. He also hauled in a 29-yard pass that could’ve also been a touchdown had Thompson hit him in stride.

Bowden’s versatility and explosiveness seems to have given him the edge in this training camp battle at wide receiver. Although Miami still sports a number of talented receivers on the roster, Bowden’s performance during the Dolphins preseason win over the Bucs may have solidified his hold on a 53-man roster spot.

Preston Williams did not see a target in his 13 offensive snaps on Saturday and managed just 13 yards on two punt return attempts. Mohamed Sanu, meanwhile, caught all three of his targets and finished with 39 yards.

Trill Williams’ Injured Leaves 4th Corner Spot Open

Another roster battle worth monitoring on Saturday was that of the fourth cornerback position. With the team’s top three spots accounted for with Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, and Nik Needham, players like Trill Williams and Noah Igbinoghene stood as the most likely candidates to fill that role.

But while Williams seemed to have the edge with his impressive showing at camp, the young cornerback suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the Dolphins preseason win over the Bucs.

Williams’ injury leaves the fourth cornerback spot wide open for the remainder of camp. The top options to fill that role currently on the roster include Igbinoghene, who’s struggled at times in camp, and journeyman Keion Crossen, who’s been primarily as a special teamer in his career.

Elijah Campbell may get a look considering his solid play on Saturday. 

Undrafted rookie free agent Kader Kohou has also turned heads in camp, though he didn’t play on Saturday due to an injury. The Dolphins could look to the free agent market at this point, or wait until later in training camp after a round of league cuts, to fill this position.

Benito Jones Could Fill Defensive Line Depth

The Dolphins cut Adam Butler earlier this offseason following a failed physical by the defensive lineman. Butler provided the Dolphins a solid rotational player along the defensive line, so losing him creates an opening for a young player moving forward. The first one that flashed as a potential replacement was Benito Jones.

Jones signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent following his four-year career at Ole Miss. He only played in six games as a rookie in 2020, making one tackle. Jones has spent the majority of his NFL career on Miami’s practice squad, but flashed his potential as a run stuffer in the Dolphins preseason win over the Bucs.

Jones registered three run stops in his 21 defensive snaps. He was in on five total tackles, including one tackle-for-loss. He’s a big-bodied defensive tackle who can thrive in Josh Boyer’s defense given the opportunity.

Offensive Line Depth Still a Question Mark

The Dolphins sat their top two free agent additions along the offensive line during this preseason win over the Bucs. Both Terron Armstead and Conner Williams enjoyed a night off. The three projected o-line starters who did play against Tampa Bay, Robert Hunt, Liam Eichenberg and Austin Jackson, all played through the first two offensive series (11 snaps).

2021 seventh-round pick Larnel Coleman started at left tackle and played 42 of Miami’s 45 offensive snaps. He surrendered a critical sack on third-and-goal on the Dolphins’ first drive, which led to a field goal, and struggled at times afterwards. His fellow tackle, Kion Smith, also surrendered a sack. Smith played on 34 of Miami’s 45 snaps.

Neither Coleman nor Smith flashed in their time on the field and the offensive line as a whole failed to open running lanes throughout the night. Miami’s other tackle on the roster, Greg Little, was ruled out prior to kickoff but could get a chance to prove his worth at some point this preseason. Otherwise, the Dolphins may opt to keep additional interior lineman, since Eichenberg can slide over if need be.

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More on the Dolphins Preseason Win Over the Bucs

For more on this Dolphins preseason win, check out the episode of The Final Yard postgame show on the 5 Reasons YouTube channel!

RELATED: 5 Breakout Candidates for the Miami Dolphins in 2022

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