Step 1 for Mike Wallace was simply getting on the field. Can check that box now.
Step 2 will be to actually make an impact. That, it appears, will take a bit more time.
In his first preseason game with his new team – the Dolphins’ 27-3 shelling of the Jaguars on Friday night – Wallace didn’t have a catch. But it’s hard to affect the game when the quarterback hardly looks your way.
Ryan Tannehill threw nine passes Friday. None were even in the general vicinity of Wallace, the Dolphins’ hired-gun deep threat.
“I’m not really worried about this,” Wallace said. “It’s preseason. I just want to be in the right spots.”
“You want to make plays, of course,” he added. “That’s why we play football. At the same time, it’s a process. I’m not going to rush the process, because it’s preseason.”
STILL NOT IN SYNC
The Wallace-Tannehill relationship has been one of the most-watched dynamics of Dolphins training camp. They weren’t exactly in sync even before Wallace missed a week of practice and the preseason opener with a groin injury.
Still, the Dolphins felt confidence playing him Friday, and Wallace said he responded well physically, with no setbacks.
He was brought in to stretch the field, which (in theory) will not only lead to the much-desired big plays, but also create space for the Dolphins’ other receivers.
Friday night, it was more the latter than the former. Dustin Keller had two catches for 46 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown reception on Tannehill’s final throw of the game.
Still, plays were there down the field for the Dolphins to make. Wallace, who proclaimed himself the fastest player in the NFL earlier in the week, had gotten behind the third level “two or three times,” he said. Tannehill either didn’t see Wallace or didn’t have the time to get him the ball.
“We had a couple of shots called that I wanted to get to him,” Tannehill said late Friday. “The safety was playing super deep, so I didn’t have a chance to throw it down the middle. But when you have a guy like that, there’s always that temptation to air one out.”
LINE WOES CONTINUE
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin saw things differently.
He didn’t fault either the quarterback or receiver, but rather the offensive line, which had trouble holding up against Jacksonville’s starting defense.
“I feel the protection early in the game wasn’t very good,” Philbin said. “I think sometimes when that happens, a quarterback can get off his primary read.”
The Jaguars were able to effectively bring pressure up the middle, showcasing Miami’s still unsolved issue at right guard. Josh Samuda gave up a sack on the game’s second play.
Neither John Jerry nor Lance Louis, candidates for the starting job who are both rehabbing knee injuries, played Friday night.
The team’s run-blocking suffered, too. The Dolphins averaged a scant 2.9 yards per carry on the night.
Nonetheless, the Dolphins may have discovered their new short-yardage back in Jonas Gray. The team was ineffective of picking up the tough yard in 2012, but Gray – inactive all last year while recovering from a torn ACL – scored twice from 1 yard out.
“He’s running the ball hard,” Philbin said.
Added Gray: “When I get in there, I’m salivating. I know I’m close to the end zone, I can score.”