Here was the Miami Dolphins’ game plan Thursday:
Find the smallest guy on the field. And throw it to him.
And then do it again.
The question no longer is whether Jakeem Grant will make the team.
It’s how many touchdowns he’s going to catch on an offense already flush with weapons.
On a night bereft of star power — 20 of the Dolphins’ 22 starters got the night off in their preseason finale against the Vikings — Grant provided all the wattage Miami needed as the Dolphins defeated the Vikings 30-9.
Grant finished with four catches for 141 yards — and drew three penalties in the passing game — in the first half alone. Yes, he did have a drop on what would have been another big gainer, but at this point, that’s almost nitpicking. Grant’s hands, a liability as a rookie, have become an asset.
A fun moment on a night with many of them:
During a stop in action here Thursday night, the Vikings’ in-house video team showed a Randy Moss highlight package on the big screen, promoting Moss’ Sept. 11 induction into the team’s Ring of Honor.
Moss was incredible in many ways — his ability to jump over defensive backs spawned its on term, “getting Mossed” — but his ability to run right by corners might have been as impressive as anything. Even before he drew even with a DB, Moss would throw his hand in the air, signaling to his quarterback that he was open.
Grant was on the field when that video montage ran early in the second quarter. And maybe he was inspired by it.
Because on the very next series, Grant channeled Moss as only a 5-foot-7, 169-pounder can.
Grant blew right past Vikings corner Sam Brown, and as soon he got a half step on his defender, waved to quarterback David Fales to deliver him the ball.
Fales hit Grant in stride. The rest was easy. Grant cruised into the end zone for his second 60-plus-yard touchdown in as many weeks.
“He was playing inside leverage and he was pressed on me,” Grant said. “And coach always talks about if you outside release on that route, throw your hand up. That’s exactly what I did.”
Added Dolphins coach Adam Gase: “He’s hard to cover out there. Usually when you put a smaller guy outside, you get worried that he’s just going to be grabbed by a bigger corner and held up. But he’s so shifty that he’s hard to get hands on and he gets by you quick.”
It was a fitting way for Grant to cap to a fantastic three weeks. He began training camp on the roster bubble. He ended the preseason as the Dolphins’ most improved player — and probably their No. 4 receiver.
Grant had been battling with Leonte Carroo to be Miami’s first receiver off the bench, but it really hasn’t been a competition for some time.
Grant has blossomed since moving from the slot to the outside; Carroo, meanwhile, has largely been a non-factor the last three weeks. Carroo misjudged a deep ball early in the game, and watched it slip through his hands.
Speaking of non-factors, is it officially time to worry about Charles Harris?
The rookie defensive end got the start Thursday with Cameron Wake, Andre Branch and William Hayes all in sweats.
And while in fairness, Harris didn’t play much, Miami’s first-round pick also didn’t do much in the time he got.
Four [exhibition] games into his pro career, and he still doesn’t have a quarterback hit, let alone a sack.
He disappeared when double-teamed, and looked lost in the run game.
Harris, who finished the preseason without even a solo tackle, did have one highlight: he got pressure on Taylor Heinicke on a third down, leading to an incompletion.
Will Harris show up when the games count? That’s certainly the Dolphins’ hope, but at this point, it might little more than hope.
Other takeaways from a game that was played only because league rules mandated it:
▪ Running back Kenyan Drake looks smooth with the ball in his hands, and showed toughness on a one-yard touchdown run.
▪ Terrence Fede has earned playing time on a stacked defensive line. He was a beast in the first half, and wrecked Heinicke on a passing play late in the second quarter.
▪ Fales (two touchdown passes before halftime) will probably get cut Saturday, but he might not stay out of work for long. He looks to be better than any quarterback the Jets have.
▪ Jesse Davis started and got a very long look at left guard. He’s on track to start Week 1.