There are few things Joe Philbin hates more than fumbles. So Philbin couldn’t have been feeling too good about Lamar Miller after the Miami Dolphins’ first play Sunday night from scrimmage.
At least Miller soon gave his coach something to smile about.
On that first play in Miami’s 24-20 loss to Dallas in the preseason opener, Miller mishandled a handoff from quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins lost the ball. The fumble ended up being given to Tannehill, but it sure looked like Miller’s fault.
Miller, though, soon made up for it. He ripped off 21 yards on his next two carries before he was done for the night at the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
Miller’s night leads off five observations about Miami’s loss:
1. Miller is battling Daniel Thomas for the starting running back job. While the mishandled handoff certainly wasn’t a positive, Miller still did better Sunday than Thomas.
Thomas carried the ball four times for five yards, Miller, meanwhile, looked really smooth in ripping off first-quarter gains of 11 and 10 yards.
While he has no chance to start, Jonas Gray was Miami’s leading rusher. He carried seven times for 41 yards, including a 29-yard burst in the fourth quarter, and also caught four passes for 35 yards.
2. Tannehill didn’t show a lot. Then again, he didn’t have either of his starting wide receivers.
Mike Wallace sat out with a groin strain and Brian Hartline was sidelined with a calf injury. That denied Hartline the chance to return to the field where he played for GlenOak High School in Canton, Ohio.
Tannehill finished 2 of 5 for just 11 yards. His highlight was a seven-yard completion to Brandon Gibson before he was removed late in the first quarter after his 11th play from scrimmage.
Tannehill was replaced by backup Matt Moore, who went the rest of the half and also played the game’s final two possessions. Moore had good numbers, completing 19 of 29 passes for 238 yards with a 5-yard touchdown to tight end Kyle Miller on a tipped ball with 16 seconds left.
But while Moore had good luck with that tipped ball, he didn’t when his second-quarter pass bounced off Chad Bumphis’ hands, although it could have been thrown slightly better. It was returned 75 yards for a touchdown by Dallas linebacker DeVonte Holloman.
The Dolphins fell behind 17-0 and were down 17-3 at halftime. But third-string quarterback Pat Devlin helped get them back in the game on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Davis that cut the deficit to 17-10 with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter.
3. It was a bummer for Bumphis the ball that bounced off his hands went the other way for a touchdown. Overall, though, it wasn’t a bad night for the undrafted rookie from Mississippi State.
Bumphis caught five balls for 85 yards. He is battling for the spot as the No. 4 receiver, competition that became even more wide open when Armon Binns was lost for the season last week due to a knee injury and was then released.
Also getting four catches for the Dolphins was tight end Michael Egnew, who gained 52 yards. Considering Egnew was a colossal bust last year after being a third-round pick, that’s encouraging.
4. Rookie defensive end Dion Jordan looked solid in his debut. But a second-year man stole the show on the line.
Defensive end Derrick Shelby had a pair of sacks. He had one of seven yards of Nick Stephens in the first quarter and dropped Stephens for a four-yard loss in the second quarter.
But Jordan, drafted No. 3 last April, didn’t disappoint. In limited duty, he had a pair of solo tackles and a quarterback hit.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon, who has looked good in training camp, didn’t play.
5. The Dolphins’ secondary was the weak spot of its defense last season. While the Cowboys didn’t throw much Sunday, they did enough to result in two first-half glaring Miami errors.
In the first quarter, with Dallas facing third-and-goal at the 3, rookie Will Davis had an interference call in the end zone when his back was to the play. The Cowboys scored on the next play for a 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, R.J. Stanford badly blew coverage on Cole Beasley. But Dallas quarterback Nick Stephens underthrew a wide-open Beasley for what should have been a 27-yard touchdown pass.
It’s preseason and the Cowboys took a big early lead. So they ended up throwing just 21 times on the night while running 33 times.