Franchise-tagged tight end Mike Gesicki was not one of them.
After the game, coach Mike McDaniel wanted to make clear "it wasn't punishment at all."
On offense, potential starters like Tua Tagovailoa, Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, Terron Armstead, Connor Williams, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle did not play.
So why suit up a guy entering his fifth season and making $10.9 million while currently under contract for only one more season?
"It is not an easy job to play tight end in the offense," McDaniel said. "And so you know, we thought that it would benefit him to get them in a little bit. But, you know, again, we're trying to protect people too. So you're just, you're just really trying to manage all those things."
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Gesicki was asked after the game if he asked to play or if he was simply told he would be playing on Saturday.
"I am a professional football player," Gesicki said. "So we had a game to play today and it was time to play."
Gesicki was was asked if he was OK with being tapped.
"I love football," Gesicki said. "So I'm happy to play."
It has not been easy for Gesicki to transition to the 49ers-style offense orchestrated by McDaniel. The tight end is asked to block and more frequently play in-line.
After limited action in two joint practices, Gesicki was targeted and completed the catch on Miami's first offensive play of the preseason. How does he feel about his three days of action in Tampa?
"Good," Gesicki said. "I mean, we still got another month until the first game so there's definitely a lot of fine tuning and a lot of you know more growth in this offense continuing to learn to develop. But I just take it day by day and I'm ready to get back on this plane with this film and get back at it."
It will be fascinating to see how Gesicki ends up fitting in this season.
"Before watching tape, I was happy with the way he played and how he approached it," McDaniel said of Gesicki, who played about a quarter. "Because again, it wasn't punishment at all."
Some key Miami defensive players who did not play Saturday included Emmanuel Ogbah, Christian Wilkins, Zach Sieler, Jerome Baker, Elandon Roberts, Xavien Howard, Melvin Ingram and Jevon Holland.
But Holland's sophomore classmate, Jaelan Phillips, did suit up.
"You know, it's a, it's a balancing act," McDaniel said, generally, of the choices. "There's a lot that goes into it. I talked to the players about it. I waited all the way until Thursday evening to finally stamp it. But I talked to the players on Friday that it wasn't a necessarily a punishment or a reward. It was every individual and where they're at. Who needs it to perform on week one. You do your best guess."
McDaniel also explained that he was, in some cases, "protecting people against themselves" relative to injury risk.
Phillips was asked after the game how he felt about playing in the opener.
"Yeah, I was actually excited to play," Phillips said. "Just get back into the swing of things and get that experience. Always trying to keep learning, so never been complacent. Just understanding that I have a lot of room to grow and a lot of aspects my game and so every opportunity counts. So I'm glad that I got to go out there a little bit. I wish I played more, honestly, to get into the swing of things a little bit. But excited for next week for sure."
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Mike Gesicki was suited up in the Dolphins' first preseason game