The first drive of the Miami Dolphins’ first preseason game couldn’t have gone any better. The team drove down the field 85 yards to score its first and only touchdown of the night.
Although Miami lost 27-10 to Chicago last Thursday evening, there were some positives to take from that game. What can viewers expect from the Dolphins’ second preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night?
1. The first team offense will play more
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins’ first-team offense was sharp against the Bears. The offense will likely play a lot more on Saturday night against a better Panthers defense. Tannehill needs to continue to build chemistry with some of his newer weapons such as Jordan Cameron, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings.
“I think that our chemistry is only growing day by day, said Tannehill. “Those guys are stepping up and making plays consistently. I have a lot of confidence in their ability to get open and their ability to make plays when it.”
Tannehill will probably throw some passes down the field like he has done a lot in practices this summer. Despite having a near-perfect opening drive, the Dolphins’ offense still has a lot of areas to work on.
2. Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner will have a tougher time against the Panthers' defense
The Bears’ defense didn’t exactly provide the Dolphins’ offensive line with a real test. This week against Carolina, the team should be able to determine how much better the Miami offensive line truly is.
Guards Thomas and Turner were on the field 33 and 24 snaps, respectively, in the preseason opener. Both players played well, aside from Turner's one holding penalty.
Miami head coach Joe Philbin is looking forward to the challenge at Carolina.
“I think the way the preseason is set up, it’s going to be really good for them to go now to Carolina and practice against more of a four-man line,” Philbin said. “At times, they were uncovered, which, again they’re going to be uncovered some in the Carolina game, but we’re going to get a lot more of these defenses where both guards are covered and an uncovered center or a tilt on the center this week, both in the two days of practice and in the ball game. I think that’s going to be a really good next step for them. I thought they both competed hard, I thought they both had some really good plays on tape and obviously this wasn’t perfect.”
3. Zach Vigil should receive more playing time
Vigil has been turning heads in training camp and during the Dolphins’ first preseason game. He was one of the four undrafted linebackers signed in the offseason and Vigil has been the player that has stood out the most among the group.
Philbin has taken notice of Vigil’s play in training camp and against the Bears.
“He’s involved in tackles, Philbin said. “If you’re a linebacker, one of your job responsibilities is to get in on tackles and have production, and I think for the number of snaps he was in the ball game, he got in on plays. He has good instincts and I thought he showed pretty well.”
Against Chicago, Vigil recorded five tackles, including a sack and two tackles for a loss. With another great showing, Vigil could be on the verge of locking up a spot on the 53-man roster.
4. Expect to see a lot of Will Davis
Throughout training camp, Davis has seemed to fall behind Brice McCain, Jamar Taylor and Bobby McCain in the Dolphins’ cornerback pecking order. Davis played well against the Bears as he finished with four tackles and a pass breakup.
Philbin is still hopefully Davis’ best days are ahead of him.
“Every rep he gets it’s a valuable rep and I think there was a big difference between Will Davis at FIU (scrimmage) and Will Davis at Chicago,” Philbin said. “We’re looking for that same kind of improvement. It’s going to be great for us to go down there against Carolina, and they’ve got some big guys down there that we can go compete against. Another step, he’s got to continue to progress.”
Davis tore his ACL last season and has shown signs that he isn’t totally 100 percent yet. If Thursday is any indication, Davis could see a lot more playing time against Carolina.
5. Clean up the penalties
While it isn’t uncommon to see a lot of penalties in a team’s first preseason game, the Dolphins committed 12 infractions for 80 yards against the Bears. That is an absurd number for any team during any time of the season.
With the regulars playing a little bit more in the second preseason game, that number should come down a bit against Carolina.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.