After the Miami Dolphins’ shocking trade of offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills to the Houston Texans, the offense under first-year head coach Brian Flores will look different this Sunday when they host the Baltimore Ravens. Here are the five players you should watch for on Sunday.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins:
“I’m excited to go out there and lead this team and do the best I can do. I’ll lean on my experience I have had from previous franchises and get the guys out there and get them on the same page, have great communication and playing with excitement,” Fitzpatrick told the media after he was named the regular season starter following the team’s final preseason game.
This will be a perfect chance for Fitzpatrick to showcase to Flores and the fanbase that he still has his veteran leadership. He’s up against a tough Baltimore defense and the difference in this game will be Fitzpatrick’s ability to move the ball and not turn the ball over to a high-volume, aggressive team.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins:
Drake returned to the Dolphins on Aug. 26 after missing two weeks with a foot injury. He and Kalen Ballage are expected to be a running back committee, however, Drake has more experience and will need to showcase it here to help keep Miami’s drives alive. It seams as though Dolphins’ coaches haven’t been to keen on Drake in recent years, so if he can prove himself the committee role may evaporate in Flores’ mind.
Preston Williams, WR, Miami Dolphins:
With the departure of Stills, this is a chance for the undrafted rookie out of Colorado State to possibly take a starting wide receiver slot. With so much uncertainty and injury at the wide receiver position, Williams would be a perfect candidate for a regular starter since he’s healthy and big (six-foot, five-inches, 218 pounds).
While Williams didn’t have a big standout preseason, finishing with only five receptions for 104 receiving yards, his size alone should be a mismatch for opposing defenders. I believe he’ll see the field Sunday, if simply, to give a break from recovering wideouts like Albert Wilson (hip) and Jakeem Grant (ankle).
Earl Thomas, DB, Baltimore Ravens:
After signing a four-year, $55 million dollar deal with the Ravens in the offseason, after an eight year tenure with the Seattle Seahawks, Thomas is now the new leader on defense after the departure of LB/DE Terrell Suggs (Arizona Cardinals).
Thomas will definitely have an impact in this game against the Dolphins, and with how shaky Miami’s offensive line is, has a good chance to force at least one turnover. With Seattle, Thomas finished with 465 total tackles, 199 assisted tackles, ten forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 28 interceptions.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Entering his second year, and first full as a starter, Jackson will look to break apart the Dolphins’ defense as a dual-threat and build off his rookie season. Last year, Jackson finished 99-for-170 for 1,201 yards, six TDs and three INTs. He also rushed the ball 147 times for 695 yards and five TDs.
With not knowing how Miami’s defense will do this season, Jackson could easily control this game from the air (if he chooses to throw more) and the ground.