Miami Dolphins

A Miami-Dade native rises, a high draft pick struggles and more from Dolphins-Falcons

Miami Dolphins running back Buddy Howell runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of Thursday night’s preseason finale.
Miami Dolphins running back Buddy Howell runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of Thursday night’s preseason finale. AP

The numbers game reality is not great for Buddy Howell, the Dolphins running back and South Florida native.

The Dolphins need to get to 53 players by Saturday, and Howell plays at a stacked position.

But the way he performed here Thursday night suggested that there needs to be a place for him somewhere in the NFL, either on an active roster or a practice squad.

Howell scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, part of a Dolphins offensive explosion. He caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Brock Osweiler on the Dolphins’ opening drive and then ran in for another, again from one yard out, late in the quarter

He had 33 yards from scrimmage in the first quarter to go along with his two scores.

Howell, who attended Coral Gables High School before going on to play for Florida Atlantic, went undrafted after a relatively unremarkable senior season in Boca Raton. He had just 740 rushing yards all season, but part of that was due to lack of opportunity. He got 10 or more carries in just five games.

Here in Miami, he has had a similar issue setting himself apart, due to the team’s depth at that position.

The Dolphins are definitely going to keep Frank Gore, Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage (who also scored a touchdown in the first quarter) on their opening day roster. And Senorise Perry seems likely to make the 53 as well, seeing that he has had a good summer and the Dolphins sat him out of Thursday’s preseason finale.

More roster battles

If Torry McTyer did not have a job locked down before Thursday’s game, he probably did afterward.

McTyer, the second-year player vying to be the Dolphins’ fourth cornerback, had two pass breakups in the first half, including a deflection that resulted in an interception by Stephone Anthony.

Cordrea Tankersley, meanwhile, let another receiver get behind him Thursday, which would have been a touchdown had Kurt Benkert’s throw been on the money. Tankersley probably has a bigger margin of error than his competitors due to his third-round draft pedigree, but he has not been impressive this summer.

Tony Lippett, meanwhile, is no sure bet to make the team after tearing his Achilles in 2017.

Tackle Zach Sterup, who has hopes of making the team as Miami’s ninth lineman, surrendered a sack to defensive end Anthony Winbush. He is competing with Eric Smith for that last spot.

Jason Sanders was well short on a 53-yard field goal attempt late in the first half. He is competing with Greg Joseph for the Dolphins’ open kicking job. Both Sanders and Joseph were good on their first-half extra point attempts, and Joseph connecting on a 33-yard attempt.

Odds and ends

Thursday was the battle of the backups. Wholesale changes to the Dolphins’ starting offense and defense. Rookie linebacker Jerome Baker is the only projected Week 1 starter who played.

Here were the Dolphins’ starters Thursday: Wide receiver Rashawn Scott; wide receiver Isaiah Ford; left tackle Sam Young; left guard Isaac Asiata; center Mike Matthews; right guard Connor Hilland; right tackle Eric Smith; quarterback Brock Osweiler; running back Kalen Ballage; tight end A.J. Derby; wide receiver Leonte Carroo; defensive end Cameron Malveaux; defensive tackle Kendall Langford; defensive tackle Vincent Taylor; defensive end Jonathan Woodard; linebacker Jerome Baker; linebacker Chase Allen; linebacker Stephone Anthony; cornerback Cordrea Tankersley; cornerback Torry McTyer; safety Maurice Smith; safety Walt Aikens.

Scott, who has been batting Ford and Carroo for the Dolphins’ sixth receiver spot, left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return.

Receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson did not play. But they made the trip and took a knee to protest racial injustice during the national anthem. Receiver Drew Morgan stood between them, the only player in their vicinity.

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