Running back Knowshon Moreno gave the Miami Dolphins' ground game a boost in Saturday's 25-20 preseason victory over the Dallas Cowboys. But overall, the Dolphins' first-team offense was a bit disappointing against the Cowboys, who are expected to be among the league's worst defensive teams.
Moreno, making his preseason debut after being sidelined by left knee surgery in June, rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries while providing a noticeably different look from Miami's other running backs.
Moreno, with his downhill running style, hit the holes hard and broke tackles. His first carry was a 19-yard run that put a spark in everyone on the field.
"I think the offensive line did a great job just getting some push up front, opening up holes and giving the backs somewhere to run," Moreno said.
Moreno's addition provides hope for a running game that was 26th in the NFL last season at 90 yards per game.
Miami's first-team offense didn't score a touchdown in six possessions, managing only a 26-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill (13-for-21 passing, 119 yards, no touchdowns, one interception) was so-so in the game. He overthrew wide receiver Mike Wallace on a deep ball, something that remains an issue, and threw an interception on the Dallas 5-yard line while trying to hit wide receiver Brian Hartline, who was double-covered.
"Stupid decision, stupid throw," Tannehill said of the interception. "(Running back Daniel) Thomas was wide open down the middle; should have done the check down."
The offense did a good job moving the ball, and if there was an encouraging sign from Saturday, that'd be it.
"I definitely felt like we're making progress," Tannehill said. "We said we wanted to run the ball better this week, and we did. We moved the ball effectively but at the end of the day, we have to score points."
Defensively, the Dolphins kept the Cowboys' first-team offense out of the end zone, which is an accomplishment considering they have a good offensive live, quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant. Dallas' first-team offense only managed two field goals.
Tackling was better for Miami, too. The Dolphins didn't tackle well in the first two preseason games against Atlanta and Tampa Bay, but were improved in that area Saturday.
The offensive line didn't allow Tannehill to be sacked and did fairly well in run blocking.
In a bit of an oddity, kicker John Potter, subbing for Caleb Sturgis (groin), sustained a hip injury after kicking a 26-yard field goal in the first quarter. That meant punter Brandon Fields had to handle kickoff duties. The Dolphins didn't attempt a field goal or extra point. They made two of their three two-point conversion attempts after touchdowns.
There are still areas of concern, such as right guard, the linebacker jobs and the nickel defensive back. But coach Joe Philbin said he didn't see anything Saturday that would prompt him to make changes to his starters.
"We're still evaluating, right up until we name our starters for the New England Patriots," he said. "We thought they played well."
--Wide receiver Mike Wallace is tired of questions about why he and quarterback Ryan Tannehill can't connect on a deep ball. Tannehill overthrew Wallace (again) in Saturday's 25-20 victory over Dallas.
"It's cool," Wallace said about being questioned on the deep ball. "It's part of the territory. Until we hit it people have a right to ask that question. It's something we can't avoid until we hit it and get rid of the question. It's not going to be one time where we hit it and then it's over. We have to continually hit it, every day.
"That's why we work, we keep working. I know we've been saying it for a while, but I think in two weeks, hopefully, we can get one."
--Kicker Jake Rogers was signed Monday because of injuries to Caleb Sturgis (groin) and John Potter (thigh). Rogers said he got a call from the Dolphins around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, which would have been during the fourth quarter of the Cowboys game. Potter sustained his injury in the first quarter after converting a 26-yard field goal. The Dolphins currently have four quarterbacks and three kickers on their roster.
Rogers was 4-for-5 on field-goal attempts in Monday's practice. Rogers was wide left on a 44-yard attempt from the right hash mark.
--The running back picture is crowded among Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller, who are guaranteed to make the team, and reserves such as Damien Williams, Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee. The Dolphins might keep four running backs. But if they keep three it'd likely be Moreno, Miller and Williams. Thomas, the second-round pick in 2011, returned to practice Monday after being sidelined by a groin injury, but he needs to get playing time.
"I'm hoping we can get him out there," coach Joe Philbin said. "I want to see him get out there. We want to see what he can do."
--Former quarterback Dan Marino will serve as a special advisor for the organization. His exact duties are unclear but he likely won't have any input on personnel or financial decisions. Marino will probably be more of a name the organization can use as opposed to a resource they can tap.
Regardless, Marino is back in the fold.
"He's always welcome here," coach Joe Philbin said. "He's been at practice. He was in my office today. I said, 'You're always welcome.' I think that will be something that evolves over time. As you guys all know, he's a quality individual. He's a really good person. I've gotten to know him a little bit and I'm excited about working with him."
--Miami's offense, which is always harping on tempo and playing faster, operated at a brisk pace Saturday against Dallas, but it didn't move as quickly as they would have liked.
"We thought we could have been pushing the pace a little bit faster," coach Joe Philbin said. "I don't think it was overly quick the other night. I would agree with you on that. I think it's something that has to get a little bit quicker."
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: WR Damian Williams vs. WRs Marcus Thigpen, Armon Binns. The Dolphins are loaded with talented wide receivers and they'll likely keep six. If that's the case, Williams and Thigpen will battle for the final positions behind Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and rookie Jarvis Landry. If they only keep five wide receivers, neither Williams, Thigpen nor Binns probably makes the 53-man roster. Thigpen's advantage is he returns punts and kickoffs, but so does Williams.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--QB Brady Quinn was cut Tuesday. It was no surprise. He didn't have a good showing in his week or so in camp. The Dolphins still have three quarterbacks among starter Ryan Tannehill and reserves Matt Moore and Seth Lobato. Most likely Quinn will go back to his analyst job at FOX Sports.
--C Mike Pouncey went to New York to have his surgically-repaired hip examined Monday. The results of the diagnosis are unknown. Pouncey attended practice Monday but didn't participate. He did his usual rehab work on the side.
--DE Derrick Shelby should get an extended look Thursday vs. St. Louis. Shelby, who had 2.5 sacks last season, has had a good camp and could get four or five sacks this season. He should provide valuable depth behind starters Cam Wake and Olivier Vernon.
--WR Armon Binns was cut Tuesday. Binns, the big-bodied receiver the Dolphins have sought for years, had too many drops in practice. Others have just been better.
--RG Dallas Thomas has been getting snaps at right tackle in recent practices. Thomas moved back and forth between guard and tackle last season and coach Joe Philbin said it probably set Thomas back a bit because he never focused on one job. The versatility of Thomas being able to play two positions helps the team in the long term, but it probably hurts the team in the short term.
--RB Daniel Thomas had his chances of making the 53-man roster increased when RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring) was placed on the injured reserve list. Thomas will likely be the fourth running back.
--QB Seth Lobato will likely get lots of work Thursday vs. St. Louis. It's still unclear whether the Dolphins will keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Lobato has practice-squad eligibility.
--TE Kyle Miller, who has spent two seasons on the practice squad, might be able to make a strong statement Thursday vs. St. Louis. Miller has been getting snaps with the starters recently and seems to have improved his hands as well as his blocking ability. The Dolphins will likely keep three tight end including starter Charles Clay and reserve Dion Sims.
--K Caleb Sturgis (groin) did some light kicking Tuesday but his status for the Sept. 7 season opener against New England remains unknown. Right now the Dolphins have two kickers on their roster, Sturgis and Jake Rogers.
--LB Philip Wheeler (right thumb) was scheduled to miss Monday's practice. Instead, he participated in every snap of what was mostly a half-speed workout. Wheeler's starting job was thought to be in jeopardy from rookies Jordan Tripp and Chris McCain, but Wheeler played well against Dallas.
--G Billy Turner, the third-round pick from North Dakota State, missed Monday's practice with a foot injury. Turner was wearing a walking boot during practice.
--DE Terrence Fede (knee) didn't practice Monday and might not play Thursday against St. Louis. Fede, the seventh-round pick from Marist, will likely make the 53-man roster.
--TE Brett Brackett missed Monday's practice with an undisclosed injury although he had his right knee wrapped. Any missed time is crucial for Brackett in this crowded tight-end picture.
--DT Earl Mitchell is drawing rave reviews from practices and preseason games. Mitchell has excelled as the third defensive tackle along with Randy Starks and Jared Odrick. He's a sure tackler and takes up lots of space.
--TE Charles Clay, who only returned to practice last week after missing all of training camp, practiced Monday. That's a good sign. Often the day after a player goes full contact is a time of concern. Of course, Clay only played 10 snaps against Dallas.
--MLB Koa Misi practiced Monday after missing Saturday's game with a shoulder injury.
--K John Potter sustained a hip injury in the first quarter of the Dallas game and is likely out for Thursday's game against St. Louis. Potter was filling in for regular kicker Caleb Sturgis (groin).
--WR Mike Wallace had a team-best six receptions for 67 yards against Dallas. He was overthrown on his only deep ball attempt from QB Ryan Tannehill.
--RB Lamar Miller had seven carries for 24 yards against Dallas in what was likely his last hold on the starting job. Look for Miller to be involved every week as a key backup.
--RG Shelley Smith had a good performance against Dallas and seems as though he'll hold the starting job he took from Dallas Thomas last week.
--WR Jarvis Landry had two receptions for 20 yards, three punt returns for 26 yards and two kickoff returns for 42 yards. Landry, the rookie second-round pick from LSU, fumbled a punt return.
--TE Dion Sims had one reception for six yards and fumbled after making the catch.
--CB Will Davis seemed to play well as the nickel back. Davis played the outside cornerback position while CB Cortland Finnegan played inside.
--LB Dannell Ellerbe had four tackles against Dallas and seemed to play well overall. Most likely Ellerbe will remain on the field in the nickel package. MLB Koa Misi always comes off for the extra defensive back, but there's been some thought Ellerbe or LB Philip Wheeler might give way to rookie LBs Chris McCain or Jordan Tripp.
--DE Dion Jordan had one tackle Saturday and posted his third unimpressive preseason effort. Jordan, the No. 3 pick of the 2013 draft, will serve a four-game suspension when the regular season starts.
--S Jimmy Wilson was a sure tackler Saturday, something that has been a concern. Wilson is starting for S Reshad Jones, who will serve a four-game suspension when the season starts.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Ryan Tannehill
- Knowshon Moreno
- Dallas Cowboys
- Daniel Thomas
- Damien Williams
- Caleb Sturgis