Here are some areas to watch during Miami’s second preseason game Friday against the Dallas Cowboys:
1. RB Arian Foster’s debut
Analysis: The former Pro Bowl running back is expected to make his Dolphins debut on Friday. Foster is returning from an Achilles injury and practiced for the past two weeks of training camp. Dolphins coach Adam Gase doesn’t want Foster to take too much of a pounding this early. But Foster is in a tight competition with Jay Ajayi for the starting job and must show what he can do. Both running backs will get some carries Friday.
2. Defensive line
Analysis: Miami’s defensive line has been the most dominant position in training camp. But starters Ndamukong Suh, Mario Williams and Cameron Wake all sat out the preseason opener. This trio is expected to play against a Cowboys offensive line that is arguably the best in the NFL. It’s a strength vs. strength matchup worthy of keeping a close eye on in the preseason.
3. Starting offense
Analysis: Miami’s starting offense went three-and-out on two drives last week. Players say it’s too early to panic, but there is some pressure to perform better with more playing time against Dallas. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Co. had their best week of practice in training camp. Whether that translates to the game remains to be seen. But Miami’s starting offense needs to move the chains this week and make the most of its limited reps.
4. OL Laremy Tunsil
Analysis: Tunsil received a majority of first-team reps at left guard this week. Gase said he isn’t sure if Tunsil will start, but the first-round pick likely will play early either way. Dallas Thomas struggled last week and hasn’t been the answer for three seasons. Miami drafted Tunsil for a reason, and if he plays well against the Cowboys, it could be the start of Tunsil taking over a starting job for good.
5. WR DeVante Parker
Analysis: Parker has battled a hamstring injury since the start of training camp. The Dolphins have been careful with him, but at some point Parker will need game action before the regular season. The team is leaning towards playing Parker Friday. He’s worked through practice this week without any issues. The main concern if Parker plays is making sure he gets out of the game healthy.