What's At Stake

The Dolphins play host to the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night in the third preseason game on the schedule. It's the game that's always viewed as the one that provides the best barometer heading into the season because the starters will play about three quarters. It's also a big game in terms of determining battles, whether it be for a roster spot or a starting job.

Let's start on offense, where perhaps the most intriguing battle is at center between Jake Grove and Joe Berger. Incidentally, you can forget about Andrew Hartline being a factor just because he once took snaps with the first team in practice. That was about finding out just how good he was and whether he was worth keeping around.

Grove is much more established than Berger as an NFL player, and we can't help but get the feeling there's a competition here solely because Grove has battled injuries too often for the Dolphins' taste since he joined the team.

This really still should be his job, although we could see Berger unseating him if he badly outplays him.

At wide receiver, it seems pretty set by now that Brian Hartline will start opposite Brandon Marshall, but that doesn't change the fact that Davone Bess is a better player and has clearly outplayed him this summer.

The real battle at wideout is for the fourth and fifth jobs now that Greg Camarillo has been trade. It does seem as though Marlon Moore probably is ahead of Patrick Turner at this point, with Roberto Wallace and Julius Pruitt trying desperately to make up ground.

From this end, we'll predict that one of the receivers on the 53-man roster isn't with the Dolphins at this point.

At guard, there's been a battle all summer with a lot of rotating going on, but it appears Richie Incognito and rookie John Jerry can lock up starting jobs with good outings on Friday night.

On defense, the starting jobs appear all set, and that includes free safety with Chris Clemons.

We're still not sold on the second-year player from Clemson -- yes, he's Clemons from Clemson -- and would like to see him make a play or two against Atlanta.

Finally, there's the battle to become the kickoff returns, and that's likely to come down between Patrick Cobbs and rookie Nolan Carroll.

Carroll had a really rough game at cornerback last Saturday against Jacksonville, but he's got more explosiveness than Cobbs and could win the job with a long return or two Friday night.


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