Today's Top 5: 8.17.2017

Posted Aug 17, 2017

1. Cutler debut: Quarterback Jay Cutler played his first game in a Dolphins uniform and his performance was much more impressive than his stat line might suggest. Cutler was 3-for-6 for 24 yards, but he also had a 31-yard completion nullified by a penalty and he threw a strike downfield to DeVante Parker for a 16-yard gain. Cutler said he was a little nervous heading into the game, but he certainly didn’t look like it. As a debut, this clearly was an encouraging sign.

2. X marks the spot: Second-year cornerback Xavien Howard was impressive throughout camp and he has continued that strong work in the preseason. On his interception against Baltimore, Howard never let the receiver get behind him and the only question was whether he would be able to make the pick or the pass would fall incomplete. Howard had injury issues throughout his rookie season, but he has the look of a player headed for a big season.

3. Maxwell makes plays: On the opposite side of Howard, veteran Byron Maxwell appears to be picking up where he left off last season. He showed a knack last season for knocking the ball loose and was at it again against Baltimore, stripping both former Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace and running back Terrance West. That the Dolphins weren’t able to recover either fumble on this night isn’t overly significant; those are the kinds of big plays that can win games in the regular season.

4. Cut to the chase: Linebacker Chase Allen is among the rookie free agents hoping to earn a spot on the 53-man roster and he certainly helped his case with his performance against the Ravens. Allen led the Dolphins with seven tackles and knocked down a third-down pass. Two of his tackles stopped Baltimore running plays for no gain. The former Southern Illinois standout quietly had an impressive camp, but he took it a step further on this night.

5. Ajayi action: Head Coach Adam Gase was pretty matter-of-fact when he addressed the decision to have Jay Ajayi make his preseason debut against Baltimore, saying players have to play in the preseason. While Ajayi played only one series against the Ravens, it was good to have Ajayi back in the lineup considering his obvious importance to the Dolphins offense.

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