Miami Dolphins Pre-Season Opening Notes Snap Count
Maybe the biggest thing that stood out when it comes to player participation and usage for the Miami Dolphins in their 26-24 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday night is the long list of those who did not play, but there also was eye-opening starter.
While the Dolphins gave the night off to 17 of their most prominent players, tight end Mike Gesicki not only dressed but was in the starting lineup against Tampa Bay.
Remember, this is a guy who the Dolphins are paying $10,8 million in 2022 as a franchise tag player.
Not surprisingly, the decision to start Gesicki was one of the first questions the media asked to head coach Mike McDaniel in his postgame press conference.
“Just in general, it is not an easy job to play tight end in the offense, so we thought that it would benefit him to get him in a little bit, but again, we’re trying to protect people too, so you’re just trying to manage all of those things,” McDaniel said. “Having a scope for the whole preseason, we thought it would be good. We wanted to get him a touch and get him orchestrated in hearing the offense, but also protect him, so I was happy. Before watching the tape, I was happy with the way he played and how he approached it — again, it wasn’t a punishment at all.”
Gesicki ended up playing nine offensive snaps against Tampa Bay, two more than fellow tight end Durham Smythe and eight more than second-year player Hunter Long.
Gesicki caught a 13-yard pass from rookie Skylar Thompson on the Dolphins’ very first offensive play, but the fact he was in the game at all certainly was noteworthy.
OTHER DOLPHINS OFFENSE OBSERVATIONS
— Staying with the tight ends for a second, Long playing only three snaps certainly was interesting, though he is listed as a third-team player on the depth chart, so his roster spot does appear secure.
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— Cethan Carter led the way among tight ends with 28 offensive snaps, but what’s interesting here is that many of those had him lining up at fullback. Remember that Carter has experience as an H-back from his time in Cincinnati, so him being used at fullback is not surprising and likely will happen in the regular season if Alec Ingold isn’t available, as was the case Saturday night.
— At wide receiver, what stands out is the fact that Lynn Bowden Jr. played only eight snaps on offense. We mention that because Bowden was among the most productive players on offense and one would have thought he was on the field a lot more. No, he just maximized his snaps. On those eight snaps, Bowden was targeted four times, catching three passes for 55 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown and a 29-yard reception early in the second half.
— The other high-profile wide receiver the Dolphins reportedly are shopping around the NFL, Preston Williams, got five more snaps on offense than Bowden with 13 but was not targeted once. He did have two punt returns for 13 yards.
— On the offensive line, 2021 seventh-round pick Larnel Coleman got a long look after starting at left tackle in place of Terron Armstead. Coleman played 42 of the 45 snaps on offense, the second-highest total on the team behind only Thompson, who played all 45. This makes sense given that Coleman needs all the reps he can get after spending his entire rookie season on IR. For those wondering about the three projected starters who did play against Tampa Bay, Robert Hunt, Liam Eichenberg and Austin Jackson all played 11 snaps — the Dolphins’ first two offensive series.
DOLPHINS DEFENSE OBSERVATIONS
— While the Dolphins did use three projected starters — Raekwon Davis, Jaelan Phillips and Brandon Jones — against the Bucs, it was Noah Igbinoghene who was the player to watch on defense on this night, and he certainly got a lot of work. Igbinoghene played 47 defensive snaps against the Bucs, tied for third-highest total on the team behind only Verone McKinley’s 61 and D’Angelo Ross’ 50. It’s no great revelation to say that Igbinoghene still needs a lot of reps.
— As for the three aforementioned starters, Jones and Phillips each played 13 snaps, while Davis played 12. Based on those defensive starters who were rested, it seemed as though three full years of NFL experience was the cut-off point to get the night off.
— Rookie third-round pick Channing Tindall, the team’s highest selection in the 2022 draft, had a pretty busy night with 25 snaps on defense and another 14 on special teams. Get used to seeing him getting a lot of special teams snaps because it still says here that’s where he’ll get most of his work as a rookie.
— Among inside linebackers, have to say it was surprising from this end to see Duke Riley (32) surpass fellow inside linebackers Tindall (25) and Calvin Munson (25) in defensive snaps. Riley is an established veteran who has been really good in camp and again made plays against the Bucs, so it says here he really didn’t need to be out there that much.
— Finally, always look to special teams snap as an indicator for who will make the roster (not an automatic but it’s a good indicator at times), and you’ll see rookie seventh-round pick Cameron Goode leading the way with 15 special teams snaps against the Bucs, followed by Tindall and Hunter Long with 14 apiece.
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