The Miami Dolphins will hit the field at Sun Life Stadium for the first time of the season for the team’s annual intrasquad scrimmage tonight at 7 pm It will be a great opportunity to get a sneak peak of the 2013 Dolphins before the preseason kicks off on Sunday night in Canton, Ohio.
Much of the focus will be on how the Dolphins’ offensive and defensive units perform as a whole, but individual evaluation is just as important at this stage of training camp. Here are the top 10 players I’ll be keeping an eye on:
10. Will Davis, CB: The rookie has had an up-and-down camp thus far. He’s made a few nice pass breakups but he’s also been roasted in coverage. Davis probably isn’t going to compete for a starting role this season, but the Dolphins hope they can count on him to step in if need be.
9. Marcus Thigpen, RB/WR: With depth suddenly a concern at receiver, it will be interesting to see how the Dolphins use Marcus Thigpen. He impressed during the first week of practice at running back, but spent some time working in the slot last season.
8. Olivier Vernon, DE: The second-year defensive end impressed during camp’s first week. But the Dolphins will need to see some consistent pressure and the ability to set the edge from Vernon before his starting spot on the right side becomes official. If they don’t, moving Jared Odrick back to defensive end or giving the role to first-round pick Dion Jordan will become possibilities.
7. Dion Jordan, DE: Speaking of Jordan, the rookie participated in 11-on-11s for the first time on Sunday morning. He’s clearly behind Vernon for the time being at right end, but he could catch up in a hurry by showcasing the explosiveness that made him the top defensive player in the draft. The Dolphins still might be easing him along, though, so there is no telling how much action he gets in tonight’s scrimmage.
6. Marvin McNutt, WR: Many eyes will be on the wide receivers tonight with Armon Binns out for the year and Rishard Matthews sidelined for several weeks. Marvin McNutt has made his fair share of plays so far in practice, but will his production continue during the preseason? We’ll get a sneak preview tonight under the lights at Sun Life Stadium. McNutt must dispel the notion that his hands are suspect.
5. Dallas Thomas, LG/LT: The third-round pick has seen plenty of reps with the first team since John Jerry was sidelined with a knee injury. Can Thomas prove he’s starting caliber as a rookie at left guard? He’ll need to if he wants to hold off Josh Samuda for the time being and John Jerry and Lance Louis when they’re deemed healthy enough to compete.
4. Dimitri Patterson, CB: The Dolphins gave Patterson the opportunity to prove he can be one of the team’s top three cornerbacks in 2013 and that he’s worth a $4.6 million cap hit. He’s done one better a week into camp, outplaying Richard Marshall and earning reps opposite Brent Grimes with the first team. Will he continue to ride that momentum in tonight’s scrimmage and as the preseason kicks off on Sunday?
3. Josh Samuda, C/LG: Samuda has been one of camp’s pleasant surprises and at time when the Dolphins desperately need offensive linemen to elevate their games. He’s received snaps with the starters at both center and guard since Jerry went down and has reportedly held his own. A solid performance in tonight’s scrimmage would help Samuda continue his ascension.
2. Jonathan Martin, LT: A lot of attention is being paid to the Dolphins’ interior offensive line and the game of musical chairs the unit has been playing, but the most important player along the line is still second-year tackle Jonathan Martin. He’s received mix reviews so far in training camp. Some say he’s been decent, others point to several pressures he’s already conceded. We might begin to get a better feel for how improved Martin is tonight.
1. Ryan Tannehill, QB: There are some intriguing storylines to monitor along the offensive line and at receiver, but at the end of the day, every fan that files into Sun Life Stadium tonight will be hanging on every Ryan Tannehill pass. The Dolphins’ starting quarterback has strung together four consecutive solid practices. The fans would love to see that trend continue tonight.