Thursday night was the final warm-up game for both the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints as the NFL now heads into its regular season. The fourth preseason game is typically one of the hardest to evaluate overall, as you hardly ever see any starters or basically anyone else who is a lock, to make the 53-man roster.
Last night against the Saints, zero members of the Dolphins’ offensive first unit played aside from rehabbing receiver Albert Wilson. None of the starting offensive linemen, neither Kenyan Drake or Kalen Ballage, or any of the first five receivers on the projected depth chart (apart from Wilson). Quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen also both did not suit up.
It was the same story on the opposite side of the ball for Miami. For Brian Flores and his staff, this final preseason game was more about evaluating the bubble guys that have a shot at making the final roster. That being said, let’s take a look at a couple of the guys who stood out Thursday night:
Quarterback Jake Rudock
Third string quarterback Rudock was extremely impressive with both Rosen and Fitzpatrick getting the night off, and he made the most of it. He went 13-for-16 for 152 yards and one touchdown.
Will Rudock ultimately find his way into this Dolphins roster? It’s extremely tough to say. The final ESPN predictions that were released team by team showed Rudock getting cut. On one hand, having three quarterbacks could be beneficial in a couple of different facets. For one, if Rosen was to end up claiming the starting quarterback role at some point this season, Fitzpatrick becomes arguably expendable. Everyone knows he isn’t the long term answer, but the issue looms that he has signed a two-year contract with Miami.
There is also the age factor. With Rudock being only 26 years old, and him showing flashes of what he is capable of this preseason, do you really want to just lose him for nothing? Rudock finished the preseason going 34-for-48 for 366 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. I mean if anybody knows how hard a good quarterback is to come by, it’s the Dolphins. If Miami ultimately doesn’t want him in its long-term plan after holding onto him for a bit, he’d make a solid backup and it could squeak a trade involving him.
Running Backs Myles Gaskin and Mark Walton
Gaskin likely won’t find a spot on the 53-man roster for Miami, but he was still fairly impressive in the second half against the Saints. He averaged six yards per carry on his eight carries, including a fourth down conversion, and an impressive 17-yard run. With Drake and Ballage locked in as starters, and the team more than likely carrying fullback Chandler Cox, it’s becoming more of a question of how many running backs the team ends up keeping.
Walton has also outperformed Gaskin throughout training camp and preseason, but he could also end up potentially serving a suspension for looming off-field issues. In a ruling two weeks ago, it said Walton could be away from the team as long as six months. Walton finished last night’s contest with 52 yards on 12 carries.
Linebacker Tre Watson
On the defensive side of the ball, Watson accounted for 10 total tackles, four being solo stops, according to ESPN.com. Those 10 tackles were by far his high this preseason. His previous high came at four total tackles in the preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Watson is likely a long shot to make the team, but could also end up solidifying a spot if the team does indeed cut or trade Kiko Alonso. But he shined when he got his biggest opportunity, and or that, he deserves recognition here.
Kicker Jason Sanders
Sanders deserves a shoutout too. He, like he has been all preseason, was solid once again. Sanders nailed all three of his field goal attempts and an extra point for a perfect 4-for-4 night. If you’re a fantasy football owner looking for a kicker, Sanders might not be a bad option.
Miami finishes preseason 3-1 after a 16-13 win over the Saints, and now the records get wiped clean. Next up for the Dolphins is a week one matchup at home in Hard Rock Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens.