PHOENIX -- The Dolphins will be a very young team in 2013, and one way to evaluate that youth and give it some experience is to play more games. So the Dolphins agreed to face the Dallas Cowboys in the preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game.
The Dolphins will now play five preseason games instead of the usual four.
“I think the thought process is this: We’ve got 11 draft picks, so we don’t have a very old roster to start with and we’re adding 11 draft picks, so I think that’s going to give us an opportunity to get a good evaluation of those [players],” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “One more game exposure where coaches are on the sideline, not in their ear and they can go out and play and compete so that we can find out a little more about them.”
The game is scheduled for Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio. It’s the fourth time the Dolphins will appear in the nationally televised event. They lost each of the three previous appearances (1978, 2001 and 2005). The Cowboys have been invited for the fifth time.
Two honorees with Dolphins ties will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame the night before: Bill Parcells and Cris Carter.
Parcells, 71, is entering as a coach. He won Super Bowls with the Giants in 1986 and 1990, led the Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996 and directed the Jets to the AFC Championship Game in 1998.
He was the Dolphins’ executive vice president of football operations from 2008 through 2010, a controversial stretch in which he oversaw the greatest single-season turnaround in NFL history before quitting before his contract had expired.
“It’s the 50th anniversary of the Hall of Fame and to be part of the festivities that surround that event will be great for the organization,” Philbin said. “We’re playing a team with great history and tradition, like ours, in the Dallas Cowboys. It should be fun.”
By playing in the preseason opener, the Dolphins will be allowed to open training camp early, and will likely have a fifth preseason game.
Must get greedy
The Dolphins are trying to revamp a pretty good defense that finished No. 7 in scoring defense for one reason: Too few turnovers.
The club got only 16 turnovers last season and that led to the ouster of Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett and Sean Smith, who struggled to hold on to interceptions.
“The biggest thing we said we’ve got to find a way to take the ball away,” Philbin said. “After watching all of the cutups, 1,000 or so plays on defense, we can’t survive with 16 takeaways.”
Need for speed
Tight end Michael Egnew was unable to get on the field much for the Dolphins in 2012 despite being a third-round draft pick. He struggled to remember plays. He didn’t play physical.
And this from Philbin:
“There were flashes where he made some of those types of plays, you know, [twisting] his body and getting down the middle of the field,” the coach said. “I think his play speed, if I had to say one thing, it would be his play speed. Get that up. If his play speed is faster, then it’s going to help him in all [his game].
“Get off the ball quicker, get a better release off the line of scrimmage, get down field quicker. Just speed it up.”