CANTON, Ohio -- The Dolphins might have one of the best defensive lines in the league this year.
But it was impossible to tell Sunday night.
Three potential starters were held out of action, and the rest of the first team lasted just a handful of snaps in the Hall of Fame game against the Cowboys.
Jared Odrick (groin), Randy Starks (knee) and Olivier Vernon (unknown) were all scratches.
Vaughn Martin started at defensive tackle, while Derrick Shelby — and not rookie Dion Jordan, the draft’s No. 3 overall pick — took Vernon’s spot at end. Shelby made the most of the opportunity, dropping Cowboys quarterback Nick Stephens for a one-handed sack early on.
Then in the second quarter, Shelby got Stephens again — although Jordan deserved an assist. Jordan provided pressure that flushed the quarterback out of the pocket — and into Shelby’s grasp.
Dannell Ellerbe, the Dolphins’ $35 million middle linebacker, was also kept on the sidelines for undisclosed reasons.
Jason Trusnik started in his place. Ellerbe had practiced all week.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins’ other new linebacker — Philip Wheeler — was targeted on the Cowboys’ first pass play of the preseason. Tight end Dante Rosario beat Wheeler badly, and hauled in an 18-yard pass from Kyle Orton.
Owner Stephen Ross attended the Hall of Fame game after staying north during the team’s first two weeks of training camp.
Ross visited with Dolphins players in the locker room before the game and signed autographs for fans who made the trip to Canton. He also posed for a picture with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
This and that
Chad Bumphis had the offense’s first big play, converting a 45-yard catch-and-run on a seam route. But later on during the drive, he let a pass ricochet off his hands, which Cowboys linebacker Devonte Holloman intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
• Both Will Davis and Dimitri Patterson were flagged for defensive pass interference early in the game. Davis’ penalty came on third-and-goal, extending the Dallas’ drive. The Cowboys scored a touchdown two snaps later.
• Dan Carpenter converted his only attempt of the first half, a 27-yard field goal. His competition for the Dolphins’ kicking job, Caleb Sturgis, didn’t see the field through the first two quarters.
The Dolphins actually outgained the Cowboys 197-135 at the half, despite trailing 17-3.
• De’Andre Presley returned kicks in place of Marcus Thigpen, who did not dress.
• Michael Egnew, who is fighting for a roster spot, had a drop in the second quarter.
• The Dolphins took the field for the first time in their new uniforms and logo, wearing aqua jerseys and white pants.
Dolphins captains were Ryan Tannehill, John Denney and Paul Soliai.