Barry Jackson

Fifteen thoughts on Dolphins’ preseason finale

Mami Dolphins cornerback Cordrea Tankersley before an NFL preseason football game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Thurs., Aug. 24, 2017.
Mami Dolphins cornerback Cordrea Tankersley before an NFL preseason football game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Thurs., Aug. 24, 2017. AP

Fifteen thoughts from the Dolphins’ 30-9 preseason victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night in Minneapolis:

• Dolphins first-round pick Charles Harris generated pressure on at least one passing play but again failed to produce tangible statistics.

In limited playing time, he closed with no tackles, leaving him with just two in four preseason games. All in all, it was an underwhelming preseason for a player expected to log at least 25 snaps a game, provided he earns it.

But two rookie draft picks looked good: third-round cornerback Cordrea Tankersley and sixth-round defensive tackle Vincent Taylor.

Tankersley entered having allowed just a 14.6 passer rating in his coverage area in the first three preseason games, permitting five catches on 11 targets for 29 yards and one interception.

He made two strong plays in coverage on Thursday, including one on a deep ball. He also helped Torry McTyer prevent a completion on a deep pass to former UM standout Stacy Coley.

Taylor had a stop for minimal gain on a running play, then knocked away a pass.

His night wasn’t perfect; he failed to corral Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke on a third and eight run for a first down. But Taylor is fully expected to make the team as Miami’s fourth defensive tackle.

• Adam Beasley, on-site for The Herald, will have the full story on Jakeem Grant’s exceptional night (four catches for 141 yards). No Dolphin has improved more than Grant this summer; that’s a testament to both Grant’s diligence and the coaching staff’s decision to play him on the boundary instead of the slot.

And this speaks well of the Dolphins’ front office: In the past three years, the Dolphins have landed Jay Ajayi, Tony Lippett, Bobby McCain and Grant in the fifth or sixth rounds.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase discusses Jakeem Grant's big night, Jarvis Landry's legal limbo and more from Minneapolis.

Rookie fifth-round rookie Davon Godchaux and sixth-rounder Taylor also have shown promise.

• Though Leonte Carroo has improved, Grant deserves to be the team’s No. 4 receiver ahead of Carroo, who had one catch for 12 yards on Thursday but also failed to haul in a very catchable ball.

Carroo is on the team, but Grant clearly poses more of a threat at this point.

• Jordan Phillips was one of the few “established” veterans who played, starting alongside Godchaux. No winner clearly emerged in their battle to start alongside Ndamukong Suh.

• Deon Lacey and Chase Allen entered as clear front-runners for the final two linebacker jobs and both had good moments.

Allen closed with 13 tackles (no other Dolphin was close to double digit tackles) and made a terrific play to hold Coley to a short gain on a punt return.

Lacey’s night was more uneven. He was beaten in pass coverage at least a couple of times, including a Vikings TD pass in his coverage area.

But like Allen, Lacey has impressed Dolphins coaches with his special teams work.

Those two could make the team Saturday but then hold their breath to see if Miami signs anybody to replace them on Sunday.

• Defensive end Praise-Martin Oguike had a sack for a safety and has made a strong case for a job on the practice squad. His stats at Temple last season weren’t that much different than teammate and friend Haason Reddick’s. Reddick was drafted 13th overall by Arizona.

• Speaking of Arizona... Defensive lineman Lawrence Okoye, who lost his job with the Cardinals last year after parking in coach Bruce Arians’ spot, had a sack and three quarterback hits, but this was too little, too late as far as his roster chances.

• Defensive end Terrence Fede - who had two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss - is fully expected to make the team over Okoye, Martin-Oguike and Cameron Malveaux. Fede also has considerable special teams value.

• Nobody has made a strong enough case to be retained as a No. 6 receiver. Drew Morgan had three catches for 47 yards and remains a strong practice squad candidate. But he hasn’t done enough to make the 53.

• The Dolphins opened with Jesse Davis and Isaac Asiata at guard, Jake Brendel at center and Sam Young and Eric Smith at tackle. Four of those five should make the team at least initially, with Brendel the most at risk of those five.

Davis remains in competition with Anthony Steen for the starting left guard job, and Adam Gase said that battle could stretch into the regular season.

• Run blocking was sound on a few plays, not very good on a bunch of others.

Kenyan Drake took advantage of holes when he had them but had nowhere to go on several runs, finishing with eight carries for 27 yards and a fumble that Miami recovered.

• Storm Johnson hasn’t made a convincing case for a potential No. 4 running back job, even though his competition - Sinorise Perry - missed the game with a knee injury. Johnson ran eight times for 21 yards, just a 2.6 average.

His best play of the night was a 27-yard catch and run.

• Brandon Doughty, sacked once and frequently under duress, finished with a 67.3 passer rating (8 for 17 for 106 yards) and must hope the Dolphins don’t find an about-to-be-waived quarterback that they like better for their practice squad.

David Fales, who is expected to be cut, had a terrific night, closing with a 130 passer rating (9 for 15, 139 yards and three touchdowns). Unlike Doughty, he has no practice squad eligibility.

• Defensive back Maurice Smith, linebacker Allen and punter Matt Haack remain the undrafted first-year players best positioned to make the final 53. McTyer also made a compelling case tonight.

• I would have expected more from Lafayette Pitts and A.J. Hendy in this training camp and preseason. Neither they, nor to a lesser extent Jordan Lucas, made a significant step, though Lucas had one of Miami’s three sacks on Thursday. Smith surpassed all of them.

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