The first game AD — After Dustin — wasn’t especially encouraging for the Dolphins’ tight end position.
As expected, Charles Clay got the start in place of Dustin Keller, who was lost for the season to a horrific knee injury. The drop-off in production, at least on this night, was noticeable.
Ryan Tannehill targeted Clay six times in the first half, but the H-back caught just one pass for 5 yards.
Clay had inside position on Buccaneers safety Mark Barron for a would-be touchdown catch, but Barron slapped the ball away at the last moment.
Still, the Dolphins stuck with Clay while the first-team offense was out there.
Dion Sims and Michael Egnew only saw occasional snaps, as Miami went heavily with a three-wide receiver set.
Jerry’s short debut
John Jerry made his preseason debut Saturday night. But he didn’t last long.
Jerry, who missed the first three games of the preseason with a knee injury, started against the Buccaneers at right guard but was pulled in favor of Josh Samuda at the end of the first quarter.
Jerry was on the field for the Dolphins’ opening drive, a 76-yard march that resulted in a Caleb Sturgis field goal.
The Dolphins’ first run was behind the right side, which opened up a hole for Lamar Miller to break off a 20-yard run.
It was the high-water mark for the running game in the first half. The Dolphins managed just 18 yards on their next 14 attempts.
Starks returns, too
Likewise, Randy Starks played for the first time this preseason after dealing with his own knee issues.
While Jared Odrick got the start at defensive tackle, Starks played heavily on third down.
It was the first time the Dolphins showed off their sub package after cutting slot cornerback Richard Marshall last week.
That group, like the first-string defense overall, played well. The starters played through the first half, limiting the Buccaneers to 63 total yards and 1 of 6 on third-down conversions.
The starting group sacked Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman three times and was also effective with its run blitzes. Dannell Ellerbe ended a drive with a well-timed dash through between the center and guard.
• Nat Moore, a former Dolphins receiver and head of the team’s alumni association, will be honored as the Citizen of the Year by the Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club on Oct. 5.
To help with the club’s fundraising efforts, the Dolphins are raffling off a trip for two for the Dec. 8 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Raffle tickets cost $100 and are available at BiscayneBayKiwanis.org.
Past recipients of the award include Dolphins founder Joe Robbie, ex-coach Jimmy Johnson and Miami commissioner Athalie Range.