Here's what and who we'll be watching for at Dolphins-Bucs practice

MIAMI GARDENS — The Dolphins are installing a new outside zone offense and working against the Bucs defense in joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday should be helpful.

"Very, very useful," Miami coach Mike McDaniel said of practicing twice prior to Saturday night's preseason opener at Raymond James Stadium.

It should also be beneficial for McDaniel as a first-time, full-time play-caller. There will be some "mess-ups" and he'd prefer they occur on the practice field.

For the Dolphins' superstar receiver Tyreek Hill, it's time to breathe.

“Yeah, man. I’m really sick of going against ‘X’ (Xavien Howard), man," Hill said. "He’s been locking me up in practice. I’m really eager to go against somebody else."

It's quite possible that Pro Bowl-caliber players like Hill, Howard and offensive tackle Terron Armstead have limited snaps in the practices and perhaps play very little or not at all on Saturday night.

"It is quite literally case-by-case," said McDaniel, who might also limit or withhold players like Emmanuel Ogbah, Melvin Ingram and Raheem Mostert.

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Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins acknowledged recently that he approaches joint practices differently than he did earlier in his career. While it is true he could open even more eyes with dominant practice reps, he has already proven to be a solid NFLer.

But for some players, this week and the next week weeks are critical. Some players are on the roster bubble. Some players are trying to show they are legitimate NFL starters.

"I’m always comfortable with my back against the wall," said linebacker Sam Eguavoen, who might be able to lock down another roster spot this preseason. "I get nervous when it isn’t against the wall."

Eguavoen had four sacks in a preseason game last season.

"I need six this year," Eguavoen quipped this week. "That back wall."

McDaniel will try to balance the reps that include Tua Tagovailoa, Hill and Jaylen Waddle with injury avoidance strategy and wanting to separate players on the edge.

"There’s an inherent risk, but there’s also – preseason is a valuable time to hone your skills and having 11 people work together for the regular season," McDaniel said. "So realistically I don’t try to shortchange."

Jul 27, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel (R) talks with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (L) during training camp at Baptist Health Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 27, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel (R) talks with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (L) during training camp at Baptist Health Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

McDaniel and Tampa coach Todd Bowles have been in constant communication about the best way to maximize the practices, which are typically more productive than games.

Past Dolphins joint practices truly have revealed strengths, weaknesses and concerns that need to be addressed with tweaks or roster additions.

"It’s not something where you just go into these things off a whim," McDaniel said. "We’ll talk a couple more times before practice starts so that we’re all on the same page and abiding by the same rules on the practice field.”

10 Dolphins we'll be watching closely in practice:

1. QB Tua Tagovailoa — I mean, it is QB1.

2. C Connor Williams  — Dolphins need snap consistency.

3. WR Tyreek Hill — Pure, selfish enjoyment.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) participates in training camp at Baptist Health Training Complex, Wednesday, July 27, 2022 in Miami Gardens.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) participates in training camp at Baptist Health Training Complex, Wednesday, July 27, 2022 in Miami Gardens.

4. RT Austin Jackson — Revamped confidence.

5. LG Liam Eichenberg — Can he lock down spot?

6. LT Larnel Coleman — Do Dolphins need another OT?

7. WR Preston Williams — Good film could help trade.

May 17, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams (18) stretches prior to OTA practice at Baptist Health Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
May 17, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams (18) stretches prior to OTA practice at Baptist Health Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

8. WR Lynn Bowden — See Williams, Preston.

9. CB Noah Igbinoghene — Is he improving?

10. WR Erik Ezukanma, LB Channing Tindall, WR Braylon Sanders — Rooks.

Joe Schad is a journalist at the Palm Beach Post part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at jschad@pbpost.comHelp support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Preston Williams, Dolphins to watch