Dolphins vs. Saints: Five Things To Watch

The Dolphins preseason comes to a close on Thursday night (Yeah!), and the biggest priority clearly will be coming out of the game against New Orleans without any injuries. But there are also a few things that need to be accomplished in the game in the final outing before the regular season starts. Here are five things we'll be watching.

1. Can Henne bounce back?

After his disastrous performance against Tampa Bay last Thursday night, Chad Henne needs to redeem himself, if for no other reason than to inspire some confidence from his teammates should he be called upon at some point in the regular season.

Henne was a highly impressive 16-for-20 in the preseason finale last year, also against the Saints, and it would be nice to see that kind of effort.

Coach Tony Sparano has indicated Henne will play the second and third quarters, with Chad Pennington getting the first quarter and Pat White closing out the game.

2. Lex's last chance

Running back Lex Hilliard has, for the most part, been impressive in training camp, but he needs to convince the Dolphins they should keep four halfbacks, which oftentimes is a luxury.

Hilliard didn't help his cause by losing a fumble at Tampa Bay last week, and at this point he's probably right on the bubble and figures in the final decisions Sparano and his staff will have to make.

Of course, Hilliard could help make the Dolphins' decision for them with a good outing.

3. The receiver race

There's one starting spot on the team that appears still up for grabs, and that's at wide receiver.

The feeling is that rookie Brian Hartline, Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess all are vying for the job, and it's not impossible that what happens against the Saints could be the determining factor.

4. Coverage concerns

It wasn't just Henne who had a bad outing against the Bucs, the starting secondary also was mediocre in pass defense -- and that's being kind.

Rookie Sean Smith was back in the starting lineup after missing the Carolina game with his illness, and he did not look good at all against Tampa Bay, giving too much cushion and not turning around for the ball quickly enough.

The safety play against the pass also has been less than stellar this preseason, so it would be nice to see either Yeremiah Bell and/or Gibril Wilson come up with big play in coverage while the starting defense is on the field.

5. The tight end tussle

It's pretty clear Anthony Fasano and David Martin again will be the top two tight ends on the team, but there's a battle for the third spot between returning player Joey Haynos and rookie fifth-round pick John Nalbone.

Based on the fact the Dolphins spent a draft pick on him, Nalbone would seem to have the edge at this point, but he certainly hasn't separated himself from Haynos.

That means that Haynos could save his roster spot with a good performance against the Saints.


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