Top News: Dolphins Ready For Next Stage

The Dolphins are now three weeks away from the start of the regular season, and they’re about to take another step in their preparations.

Training camp is now over, which means Dolphins practices now will be closed to the public and open to the media for 30 minutes only.

The Dolphins will hold full practices Monday and Tuesday in preparation for the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday night. The following Thursday, Aug. 29, the Dolphins will close the preseason at New Orleans and two days later will be the roster cuts down to the 53-player limit.

Fearless Fitz

It didn’t count in the end because of a penalty, but Ryan Fitzpatrick certainly raised some eyebrows when he took on Buccaneers safety Darian Stewart at the end of a scramble in the fourth quarter instead of sliding, as quarterbacks usually do.

“I like to do that sometimes, so I just felt like I needed to get one in there,” Fitzpatrick said after the game. “Their sideline was laughing because they know me and kind of my style of play. So, they were giving me a hard time over there with some back and forth.”

Fitzpatrick, of course, spent the past two seasons with the Buccaneers.

The play came on a third-and-7 early in the fourth quarter. Fitzpatrick gained 15 yards on the scramble, but it was called back because of a holding penalty on offensive lineman Will Holden.

While the play didn’t count, it didn’t erase what Fitzpatrick showed on the pay.

“Fitz is tough,” Head Coach Brian Flores said. “This isn’t the first time seeing him do that; he’s as tough as they come. You kind of cringe a little bit; you don’t want to see a quarterback doing that, but that’s a part of this game. Talk to these guys about coming loose and turning and cutting loose. I think they did that overall as a group. I saw a lot of encouragement from the guys for their teammates. You know they’re having fun out there. Should have seen the sideline light up. I’m not encouraging that, but we love his toughness and leadership. Guys want to play for a guy who can put it on the line like that.”

The good and the bad

There were several positive developments in the game against Tampa Bay on Friday, starting with a defense that held the Bucs to 2.7 yards per rushing attempt.

The pass rush also was productive with four sacks — 1.5 by Charles Harris, one each by Nate Orchard and Christian Wilkins, and half a sack by Jerome Baker.

On special teams, Matt Haack averaged 40.9 net yards per punt and none of his seven kicks were returned.

On the down side, the Dolphins managed to convert only 2 of 16 third-down situations, and the quarterbacks were sacked five times.

QB competition

Because of the nature of the position, questions about the starting battle at quarterback never stop coming and so it was after the Tampa Bay game on Friday night.

“Look, it’s always a competition,” Flores said. “That’s the way it will always be around here.”

Flores did say that Fitzpatrick “probably” would start the game against Jacksonville.

Josh Rosen got the start against Tampa Bay after Fitzpatrick started against the Atlanta Falcons in the preseason opener.

“We felt like we wanted to get him in early against Tampa’s first group and also get him some snaps with the center and some of those receivers in that group,” Flores said.

Rosen ended up with the highest passer rating among Dolphins quarterbacks against Tampa Bay with a 72.0, followed by Jake Rudock’s 67.2 and Fitzpatrick’s 42.4.

Snap counts

Rookie guards Michael Deiter and Shaq Calhoun tied for most offensive snaps against Tampa Bay with 50, the same number as Chris Reed. Both Deiter and Calhoun started and played into the second half. … Among skill position players, wide receiver Isaiah Ford had the most offensive snaps with 35. Linebacker Sam Eguavoen had the most defensive snaps with 48, followed by cornerback Nik Needham with 46. On special teams, rookie linebacker Terrill Hanks had a team-high 19 snaps, followed by Patrick Laird with 17, and Nick DeLuca, Chris Lammons and David Rivers with 14 apiece.

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