Miami Dolphins

Where one of the Dolphins’ top position battles stands heading into preseason opener

David Fales can lock down the Dolphins’ backup quarterback job with a good preseason.
David Fales can lock down the Dolphins’ backup quarterback job with a good preseason. mocner@miamiherald.com

One way or the other, David Fales expects to be in Miami come September.

His preference, of course, is that it is as a member of the Dolphins as their backup quarterback.

But even if Fales loses out to Brock Osweiler in the Dolphins’ first pure QB battle in years, don’t expect him to skip town.

His wife, Kylie, is pregnant with couple’s first child, and the due date is in the season’s first month.

“That’s definitely more nerve-wracking [than football],” David Fales said coming off the practice field Tuesday. “I’m more nervous for her. I just want it to go well. Just kind of get everything lined up for her, make sure she’s comfortable.”

Presumably nothing would make her more comfortable than an entire season in one place, with her husband as a team’s clear-cut No. 2 for the first time in his career.

He’s probably four solid preseason games away from getting just that.

Round 1 of Fales vs. Osweiler (vs. Bryce Petty, if we’re getting technical) is Thursday at Hard Rock Stadium, where the Dolphins will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in both teams’ exhibition opener.

The top storyline, of course, is the return of Ryan Tannehill, who is expected to appear in his first game of any sort since mangling his knee in December 2016.

But don’t expect Tannehill to play past the first quarter (he might not last past the first drive, if the Dolphins get done what Adam Gase wants).

So most of the game will be a battle of the backups. And if training camp performance and pecking order is a guide, Fales has the advantage. But the coaching staff will give the greatest weight to how both look in games than they have in camp, Gase said.

Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase would like a ten play touchdown drive and will not instruct anyone on what to do during the first preseason game with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

“I think it starts on the practice field, but when we get going and it’s live tackling and you can get sacked, it’s just a better measuring stick,” he added.

Gase plans to give both a long, sustained look Thursday, and he wants each to work with the second-string throughout the preseason out of fairness.

Throughout camp, both have played to their reputation. Fales has been steady, safe but rarely spectacular. Osweiler, the ex-Broncos and Texans quarterback who’s hoping for a career renaissance with Gase, has been great at times, but awful at others. His six training camp interceptions are most on the team.

And yet, he believes he has had “a tremendous” summer — which didn’t surprise Gase, given Osweiler’s positive demeanor.

“I think Brock does a good job of focusing on what he’s trying to do,” Gase said. “He has a purpose for every day at practice. I think this is what I almost forgot about him is that he does go out there with a purpose. That’s next-level type things.

“... To me, Brock is saying that because he has a good feel for the offense,” Gase added. “I think he likes the guys that he’s rolling with, whether it’s that second or third group, and that confidence allows those other guys to be confident. So when he’s throwing the ball, I think those guys are on the same page. I think he’s having fun and he’s having a lot of success, especially when we do those move-the-ball periods, like when we did the scrimmage. You see why he was playing in real games. He’s calm. He doesn’t panic when things break down. He has outs if something doesn’t go as planned. He should have a good feeling right now.”

Can the Dolphins win consistently with either, should Tannehill go down? Probably not.

But a backup quarterback’s top priority should be something out of the medical school: First, do no harm.

And Fales, with his largely mistake-free play, has best followed that instruction.

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