Barry Jackson

The Miami Dolphins defensive players who helped themselves Thursday and those who didn’t

Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Vincent Taylor #96 tries to block Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Chandler Catanzaro’s field goal attempt that missed during the first quarter of Thursday’s preseason game. Taylor again played well Thursday.
Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Vincent Taylor #96 tries to block Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Chandler Catanzaro’s field goal attempt that missed during the first quarter of Thursday’s preseason game. Taylor again played well Thursday. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

From two viewings of the game, a look at how every Dolphins defensive player did in Thursday’s preseason-opening 26-24 loss to Tampa Bay:

DEFENSIVE ENDS

Andre Branch: Starting in place of Cam Wake, Branch couldn’t stop a Ryan Fitzpatrick run for a first down and couldn’t get to the quarterback in a limited number of pass rushing opportunities. But he did have one of Miami’s four tackles for loss. Should be fine this season as Miami’s No. 3 end, provided he doesn’t have a setback with his knee.

Robert Quinn: Unremarkable Dolphins debut. Was blocked effectively on a couple of runs and didn’t generate much pass rush in a few opportunities.

Cam Wake: Given the night off.

Charles Harris: Had one tackle and mounted something of a pass rush on one play.

Jonathan Woodard: Pro Football Focus called him Miami’s best player on defense Thursday. He had a team-leading five defensive stops and two quarterback pressures. He forced a Jameis Winston incomplete pass with a near sack and stopped a running play for a loss of one.

William Hayes: Missed the game with a pulled hamstring.

Claudy Mathieu (one tackle) and Quincy Redmon (two): Uneventful nights for the two long-shot rookies.

Cameron Malveaux: He was sealed off on Ronald Jones’ TD run but got good pressure on Jameis Winston on one play late in the first half. Front-runner for job if Miami keeps six defensive ends.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Davon Godchaux: Was offsides on one play and didn’t have a stellar night starting ahead of Jordan Phillips.

Vincent Taylor: Had the best night of Miami’s defensive tackles. Taylor has had at least one impactful play seemingly in every practice and his effort Thursday included a sack (Miami’s only one of the night) and a stop on a run for no gain.

Jordan Phillips: Sealed off on a Ronald Jones TD run but held another run to a one yard gain and twice had good penetration on pass rush. He has played every bit as well, if not better, than Godchaux since losing his starting job to Godchaux a week ago.

Akeem Spence: Has been with the starters every day since camp opened but had a generally quiet night in limited snaps (one tackle). Couldn’t dislodge from a block on a Fitzpatrick run for a first down.

Gabe Wright: Generated a pass rush on at least one play. But it’s tough to see Miami keeping a fifth defensive tackle when William Hayes can play there.

Anthony Moten: Held a Charles Sims run to no gain. Remains in the mix for a practice squad job.

Jamiyus Pittman: Nice tackle on a two yard run. Like Moten, a practice squad job is realistic target.

LINEBACKER

Raekwon McMillan: Guessed wrong on a nine-yard run (going the wrong way) and was blocked effectively on Peyton Barber’s TD run. But also made a good play on a screen pass.

Stephone Anthony: Hardly made a case to keep his starting job. Went to the wrong area on Barber’s TD run and badly missed Ronald Jones Jr. on a run for a first down. Also was involved in one busted pass coverage.

Kiko Alonso: Had two tackles in limited snaps.

Jerome Baker: Wasn’t perfect, but did a lot right and made more plays than starter Anthony. He was targeted seven times in coverage but allowed only 36 passing yards on those targets.

He also had three defensive stops and a quarterback pressure and stopped a screen pass for a three yard loss. He contained a Ronald Jones pass for a short gain on 3rd and 10. But he also was beaten by Cameron Brate in coverage and couldn’t shake a block on a Tampa TD run. In all, an encouraging sign of what’s the third round pick is capable of.

Chase Allen: Forced a fumble and tied for the team lead in tackles with five but allowed a completion on 3rd and 10. After getting a brief look with the starters in camp, he settled back on the second team this past week, behind Anthony.

Terence Garvin: Has had a good camp but a nondescript preseason opener, allowing one completion against a tight end.

Quentin Poling: The rookie seventh-rounder made a nice stop for no gain on one run but badly missed a tackle on a long gain on Tampa Bay’s final drive. Cornell Armstrong, Allen, Baker and Poling all were credited for a team-high five tackles.

Cayson Collins: The undrafted rookie from North Carolina stopped a receiver for no gain on a 2nd and 10 and then made a very good play in coverage late, forcing an incompletion.

Mike Hull: Left in the first half with a knee injury. Per a source, he was diagnosed with a sprained MCL and will miss several weeks.

Frank Ginda: Player who led college football in tackles last season had two on Thursday.

SAFETIES

Minkah Fitzpatrick: Broke up one passing play, made nice plays on two others, and was around the ball a lot. Not perfect, but a positive first step. Question is whether he will surpass T.J. McDonald on depth chart by the opener.

T.J. McDonald: Missed a tackle on a Barber run and did nothing notable in the passing game during his brief stint.

Reshad Jones: Given the night off.

Jordan Lucas: Recovered the fumble forced by Chase Allen but beaten on Alan Cross’ TD pass.

Maurice Smith: Drew a personal foul for a blow to the head on a nondescript night.

Walt Aikens: Took second team safety snaps with Mo Smith, was credited with a pass breakup and played fine. A key piece of Miami’s coverage units on special teams.

Trae Elston: Around the ball a lot but nothing particularly notable to show for it.

CORNERBACKS

Xavien Howard: Might have been the Dolphins’ best player in the first 10 training camp practices but was beaten by DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans on chunk passing plays to open the game.

Torry McTyer: Not a good night in his battle to win a starting job. Beaten on three targets, for 14, 16 and 7 yards. On the seven yarder, he was playing too far off the line on a third down play.

Cordrea Tankersley: Started opposite Howard and was beaten for an 11-yard passing play. Probably still the slight front-runner to start, by default.

Taveze Calhoun: Allowed two big catches on Tampa’s final game-winning drive – including a 21-yard reception – after permitting a third down catch for a first down in the third quarter. Did stop one Tampa drive with a nice tackle on 3rd down earlier. Wasn’t nearly as effective as he has been in practice.

Bobby McCain: Beaten by Mike Evans for a 12-yard completion. He should be getting more opportunity for the boundary job opposite Xavien Howard.

Cornell Armstrong: Made a nice tackle for a one-yard gain on a pass but allowed completions of 5, 17 and 4 yards and walked off gingerly after the third of those catches, with 6:12 left. Did have those five tackles, which tied for the team lead.

Jalen Davis: Beaten for a 12-yard completion on Tampa Bay’s game-winning drive after allowing a 10-yard completion earlier. Remains second-team slot corner behind McCain and probably remained ahead of Armstrong. Returned two kickoffs for 55 yards.

Jonathan Alston: Former receiver played too far off the line in coverage and beaten for an 11-yard gain.

KICKERS

Jason Sanders: Missed a 53-yard field goal but converted from 23 and 29 yards.

Greg Joseph: Made a 48-yard field goal but regrettably sent a kickoff out of bounds.

Here’s my look at how every offensive player did Thursday.

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