Five things to watch when the Miami Dolphins visit the Atlanta Falcons:
1. DeVante Parker is doubtful for the game so barring a miracle he’s not playing because of his injured ankle. That means Jakeem Grant and Leonte Carroo will share the snaps that normally fall to Parker. Can either of those two make a big play? Can they ignite the Dolphins offense when Parker, considered the most gifted Dolphins receiver, could not? At least they both got their practice repetitions this week to prepare them for the opportunity.
2. The Dolphins skill players had five drops in the game last week. They are bottom of the league in drops this season. Can they, you know, hold on to the football this game? Is that asking for too much?
3. The Dolphins defense had a great game last week. Not good. Great. They turned the ball over. They scored a touchdown. They held the sixth-best rushing offense to 69 yards. But the Falcons pose a much stronger threat. The Falcons last year led the NFL in points. They are eighth in points per game this year. And their quarterback is playing, a fact the Dolphins didn’t have face last week because Tennessee starter Marcus Mariota missed last week’s game.
4. Can the Dolphins translate practice habits to game day. Sources tell The Herald the Dolphins don’t typically drop passes in practice. They don’t typically blow assignments. And last week was an excellent week for the entire team. So can that translate to Sunday?
5. Is rookie Cordrea Tankersley the real deal? He had a solid game in his NFL debut against New Orleans a couple of weeks ago and was better against the Titans. But this week Matt Ryan poses a test. And Julio Jones poses a test. If the Dolphins rookie cornerback can emerge from this game relatively unscathed, he will have proven he is more than worthy of keeping the starting cornerback job he took from Byron Maxwell. That may seal Maxwell’s fate in Miami. But if Tankersley shrinks from the stage and the matchup, it will open the door for the veteran Maxwell to compete for the starting job again once he is 100 percent.