The Miami Dolphins gave quarterback Tua Tagovailoa two series, and safety Jevon Holland made a touchdown-saving play early in an otherwise tough showing for the defense in Miami’s preseason finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But all that happened on the field became secondary after a scary injury for Dolphins undrafted rookie wide receiver Daewood Davis caused the exhibition to be cut short Saturday night at TIAA Bank Field.
Davis was motionless on the field for several minutes, placed on a backboard and carted away with 8:32 remaining and the Jaguars leading the Dolphins, 31-18.
Davis was twisted down by a cornerback covering him on a pass intended for him, and linebacker Dequan Jackson was flagged for unnecessary roughness, hitting Davis as he came across the middle. Players came off both sidelines to check on him as the game came to a halt.
“The two teams agreed that football should not be played for the rest of the night,” McDaniel said. “Without a shadow of a doubt, I know that was the right call.”
After the exhibition, the Dolphins announced that Davis is conscious and has movement in all extremities. He was taken to Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville for further evaluation.
Davis is an undrafted rookie out of Western Kentucky. He is a Broward County native from Hollywood and graduate of Deerfield Beach High.
“He’s a great spirit, first and foremost,” McDaniel said as he choked up describing Davis after the game. “He’s magnetic. He’s got a cool personality to him. … He’s a guy that his teammates really root for. That tells you everything about a human being.”
Added Tagovailoa: “A lot of guys respect him. He’s very well-respected in the locker room. He’s a great player. He’s a great teammate. He’s a great person. It just would’ve been hard to have gone back out after seeing something like that.”
Said star Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who has gotten to know Davis throughout training camp in the same position group: “Each and every day, he has the same attitude, same mindset, and that’s to get better and that’s to help his team win games. He’s a full ball of energy. … All of us enjoy being around Daewood, and this is just a situation that we don’t wish upon anyone in this league.”
Hill added that he saw Davis responsive to teammates, shaking his head “yes” and breathing well while on the field.
Tagovailoa, seeing his final bit of exhibition action before Miami opens the regular season in two weeks, went 4 of 6 for 67 yards without a touchdown or an interception. His two drives produced 3 points as he did not convert a third down in the red zone to turn his second series into a touchdown.
The Miami defense, which began rotating starters out in its second series, offered minimal resistance against the Jacksonville first-team offense, allowing the second drive to be capped by an easy 3-yard touchdown run for Travis Etienne.
Tagovailoa completed his first pass to an uncovered Hill for 32 yards, most of it after the catch, but center Connor Williams airmailed the ensuing snap over Tagovailoa’s head to put the offense in an impossible situation to keep the drive alive.
The Dolphins’ first defensive series saw them pummeled for 43 rushing yards on nine attempts without the stout defensive tackle combination of Wilkins and Zach Sieler in the lineup.
Holland, however, forced a fumble at the 1-yard line against Jaguars running back Tank Bigsby, while linebacker Jerome Baker was also bringing him down, and the Miami safety recovered the football in the end zone for a touchback. Cornerback Xavien Howard allowed a first-down pass to Calvin Ridley on the opening defensive play.
Miami’s second possession saw Tagovailoa and the ground game drive inside the 10-yard line, but a third-and-goal pass from the 6 to receiver Robbie Chosen underneath was broken up.
Running back Salvon Ahmed, coming off his 99-yard rushing effort against the Texans last week, set Miami up in the red zone with a 42-yard run to the right side. Jason Sanders converted a 24-yard field goal at the end of the first quarter to cap an 11-play, 74-yard drive for the first-team offense that was kept going by a fourth-and-1 pass from Tagovailoa to fullback Alec Ingold.
Tagovailoa was coming off an exhibition start last week in Houston where he was 5 of 7 for 61 yards, an interception and leading a touchdown drive that was capped on the ground in two series against the Texans.
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence went 8 of 10 for 92 yards, converting one fourth down to Christian Kirk on the touchdown drive and then connecting for a 28-yard sideline pass to Ridley that set up the Etienne touchdown after the catch was upheld upon a challenge from McDaniel.
Skylar Thompson entered for Tagovailoa to start the third possession for Miami. Competing in camp for backup quarterback duties with Mike White, who was out due to being in concussion protocol, Thompson went 15 of 24 for 135 yards and two interceptions Saturday.
Thompson’s second pass was intercepted by Jaguars cornerback Erick Hallett II. On the ensuing possession, his third pass was an interception to South Florida product Yasir Abdullah, a linebacker out of Miami Carol City High.
Once Lawrence exited, the first Jaguars drive behind backup quarterback C.J. Beathard stalled when Dolphins defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman split a sack of him with linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel on third down to hold Jacksonville to a 37-yard Brandon McManus field goal. After Thompson’s second interception, running back D’Ernest Johnson scored easily on an 8-yard rush up the middle.
To start the second half, rookie cornerback and second-round pick Cam Smith was burned by receiver Tim Jones for a 74-yard touchdown, through Smith’s illegal-contact penalty.
Thompson and the Miami offense responded with undrafted rookie running back Chris Brooks punching in a run from 4 yards out. The 2-point try that followed saw an impressive effort from Cracraft come up short as he couldn’t get two feet inbound on an acrobatic catch.
Following another Jaguars touchdown, Brooks, who could be a nice practice squad option behind the Dolphins’ depth at tailback on the active roster, scored another 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter — again accompanied by a failed 2-point conversion.
Dolphins defensive end Randy Charlton came up with a fourth-quarter sack Saturday.
There were two other injuries before Davis’ scary situation. In the second quarter, Elijah Campbell, who could be a key special teamer and rotational defensive back, was injured on a kickoff return. Moments later, Ahmed was injured after a late hit by Jaguars defensive lineman Raymond Vohasek that went uncalled.
The Dolphins started Isaiah Wynn at left guard as he’s competing to start at that spot with Liam Eichenberg. Kendall Lamm started at left tackle with Terron Armstead out. As defensive tackles Wilkins, Sieler and Da’Shawn Hand were all held out, undrafted rookie Brandon Pili started alongside Raekwon Davis.
Following Saturday’s preseason finale, the Dolphins have a Tuesday 4 p.m. deadline to cut the roster down from 90 players to 53. They open the regular season Sept. 10 at the Los Angeles Chargers.