Miami Dolphins first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick didn’t start his first NFL game on Sunday, but his impact was quickly noticed in the Dolphins’ 27-20 season-opening win over the Tennessee Titans.
Look no further than his second series.
With the Titans going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota sent a short pass to Corey Davis in the flat. Fitzpatrick stopped Davis cold for a 1-yard gain to force the turnover and give Dolphins fans something to cheer about early. Miami responded with a 12-play, 98-yard touchdown drive.
Fitzpatrick finished the game with six tackles and a pass deflection.
Fitzpatrick wasn’t alone. In total, five of Miami’s rookies played on Sunday, with coach Adam Gase liking what he saw from the newcomers.
“I felt like they were all very loose before we started the game,” Gase said. “It seemed like everybody was playing fast. It’s going to really probably take some time to just kind of see how everybody fits in and really what their roles become. We’ve got an idea, but I don’t think we really got as good of a flow offensively as we wanted to, and defensively I think the young guys did a good job. It seemed like they were around the ball quite a bit.”
In addition to Fitzpatrick, third-round pick Jerome Baker started at linebacker alongside Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan. Baker recorded six tackles.
Rookie kicker Jason Sanders made both of his field goals — a 27-yard attempt in the third quarter and a 30-yarder in the fourth — and converted all three of his extra-point attempt.
Second-round pick Mike Gesicki started at tight end and caught his first pass in the third quarter to set up a first-and-goal situation. Two plays later, quarterback Ryan Tannehill underthrew Gesicki in the end zone. The pass was intercepted.
Fellow rookie tight end Durham Smythe played on Sunday but did not record statistics. Running back Kalen Ballage and cornerback Cornell Armstrong were inactive on Sunday.