Preseason Opener Observations

The first preseason game of the season never should be taken too seriously because teams are still in the early stages of getting ready for the real thing, but that doesn't mean that we can't take some things away from the Dolphins' 18-17 victory over Jacksonville.

The best news of the night easily was the performance of running back Jesse Chatman, who went a long way toward alleviating concerns anybody might have had about the backup running back spot.

His 74-yard touchdown run was superb, and in more ways than one. First, he showed great running instincts by taking his time and seeing that no hole was developing on the right side before veering left. And then he showed better-than-expected speed by outracing the Jacksonville defense to the end zone.

That was great to see.

Another backup running back, Patrick Cobbs, had a big night, although it's difficult to see Cobbs making the active roster.

On offense, Cobbs and Chatman might have been the only two really bright spots.

John Beck did lead the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, but he also made a couple of really bad throws.

Cleo Lemon actually was the best Dolphins quarterback on this night, although Trent Green didn't have much of a chance behind a shaky offensive line.

And that, right there, clearly was the biggest downer of the evening.

The first-team offensive line got beaten up by the Jacksonville defense throughout the first half.

It also seemed as though every single lineman got badly beaten at least once, and that means Anthony Alabi, Rex Hadnot, Samson Satele, Drew Mormino and Vernon Carey.

Carey actually had a very short night because he sustained a knee injury in the first quarter. It was quite a scare when Carey went down holding his right knee, but he was walking on the sideline before too long and it appeared it wasn't anything serious.

Defensively, with Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas and Keith Traylor sitting out and the other first-teamers not playing much, it was relative unknowns who stood out.

Among those were defensive tackle Steve Fifita, defensive tackle Rodrique Wright, defensive end Chase Page and defensive end Akbar Gbaja-Biamila.

Former first-round pick Jason Allen forced a fumble when he came up to make a tackle in the first half, but he also had his problems in coverage.

Rookie nose tackle Paul Soliai also had a very quiet night, which was disappointing considering how well he has looked in practice. Soliai, who played pretty much the entire first half, looked like he got handled at the line of scrimmage.

On special teams, punter Brandon Fields was awesome. His first punt almost resulted in disaster after he caught a snap a little behind him and took too long to get the punt off, resulting in it getting partially blocked.

After that, though, Fields had punts of 54, 54 and 51 yards before dropping his last three punts at the Jacksonville 6, 13 and 13. If there was any doubt that he'll be the team's punter in 2007, those might have disappeared on this night.

On the flip side, Ted Ginn Jr. didn't get much accomplished on kickoff returns, with only an 18.7-yard average on three attempts.


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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. To read him every day, visit DolphinDigest.com and become a Miami Dolphins insider.