Dolphins preseason game vs. the Falcons

Hard Rock Stadium Miami Dolphins – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by YES Market Media

The Miami Dolphins first preseason game against the Chicago Bears was a very important milestone for the team’s rookies. This was their very first taste of NFL action. The team’s second regular-season warmup will be against the visiting Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, Aug. 21. This game will be just as important.

This will be the first time rookies step into the Hard Rock Stadium to play, as well as other first-time Dolphins. The team’s home opener against the Buffalo Bills will be on Sept. 19. To get a feel for everything before game day, Dolphins coach Brian Flores stated that the team would go through a walk-through to simulate arriving at the stadium and going inside the locker room.

“I’m excited to get back into our home stadium. I’m excited to see the fans, for sure,” Flores said Thursday morning. “I think that was the first thing that came to mind, especially with last year. We had fans but it was capped at maybe 13 or 14,000. I think compared to some other places it felt like it was 113,000. I’m excited to play in front of our fans. I think we have a great fan base, a supportive fan base and we are excited to get in front of them. We love feeling their support and I would say that’s the No. 1 thing.”

Which Starters Will Play and How Much?

With the NFL swiveling from four preseason games to three, teams are utilizing a different approach to starter playing time. The third preseason game is usually a dress rehearsal before the regular season begins, but coaches might have reservations about putting their starters in harm’s way two weeks before the beginning of the season.

Flores said he expected “most guys” to play Saturday. Players who didn’t play in the preseason opener, like Cornerback Xavien Howard, will be on the field. Flores didn’t give an exact estimate on how much his starters would play but said he would be meeting with his coaching staff Thursday night to sort out snaps. Notable players who sat out the first preseason game include Howard, cornerback Byron Jones, and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. Rookies Jaelan Phillips and Liam Eichenberg did not play due to injuries, but returned to practice this week and could possibly make their NFL debuts. Players who continue to be sidelined because of injuries including Albert Wilson, Will Fuller, and DeVante Parker are not expected to play on Saturday.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s first NFL preseason game was a success, aside from a red-zone interception that was correctable. Tagovailoa was extremely decisive and showed good pocket awareness. He was very connected with tight-end Mike Gesicki on a 50-yard catch-and-run that was a perfect example of the offense’s commitment to creating more explosive pass plays in 2021.

“I think their [defensive coordinator] does a great job and their defense overall, they do a great job disguising looks,” Tagovailoa said after Wednesday’s practice. “They have a lot of good players on their team. They do a great job communicating what they want to do and what they want to accomplish. I think today, for us offensively, we’ve got to be a lot better operationally. Getting on the ball quicker, seeing what the defense is giving us and playing. If you look at their two-minute drive, I think that they did a really good job from an operational standpoint. That’s something that we can also look at and continue to learn and grow not just on our side of the ball, but both sides of the ball.”

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