Postscripts from the Dolphins’ 24-17 preseason loss to Houston:
### Anything good that happened tonight – including Mike Wallace’s first three receptions as a Dolphin – was thoroughly overshadowed by the knee injury to Dustin Keller, who was undergoing an MRI Saturday night. Joe Philbin said after the game that there is no diagnosis yet. (But the team fears the worst, as Armando noted in his report from Houston, and Wallace said: "I'm pretty sure he'll be out for a while" -- possibly the season.)
“We all are wishing Dustin well and hope his return is sooner rather than later,” Philbin said. “That’s all I have to say about that.”
Keller was injured on Miami’s fifth possession, when Houston’s D.J. Swearinger hit Keller squarely on the side of his right knee with his helmet. Keller dropped the pass and soon after had to be carted off, unable to put pressure on the knee.
With Keller, the Dolphins' group of tight ends assuredly ranked in the top half of the league. Without him, they're in the bottom fifth, unless Dion Sims blossoms quickly.
“We’ll adjust,” Philbin said. “We’ll take a look at what we have and what our options might be. Michael Egnew is a big man. Dion Sims is a big man. Charles Clay has caught the ball down the middle before. We have some big targets.”
Sims is good enough as a blocker – he had a terrific block on Lamar Miller’s four-yard TD run --- and teammates believe he has upside as a receiver. They like how he uses his size (6-4, 265) to essentially block out defenders.
But he hasn’t shown he can create separation in the middle of the field like Keller did. He started Saturday’s game but couldn't haul in two catchable passes after Keller’s injury.
Egnew hasn’t even proven he can be a No. 2 tight end, let alone a starter. He had one catch late in the game (for 14 yards) but also had a holding penalty early on, negating a 9-yard Lamar Miller run. His blocking --- considered dismal last season --- has improved, but projecting him as a starter would be a reach.
Charles Clay would be another option, but playing him a lot at tight end means the Dolphins likely would need to keep fullbacks Jorvorskie Lane or Evan Rodriguez. Clay opened Saturday’s game as the starting fullback and has played there quite a bit during training camp. But he had a false start penalty on Miami’s second possession and hasn’t caught a pass in preseason.
Kyle Miller – who has displayed some receiving skills – has a chance to stick but missed Saturday’s game with an ankle injury.
There aren’t any particularly good options left in free agency, with past-his-prime Randy McMichael, Will Heller and Kevin Boss the best of what’s still available. Dallas Clark signed last week with Baltimore, which lost starter Dennis Pitta to injury.
### The good news: Ryan Tannehill completed three passes to Wallace, for 58 yards, on Miami’s TD drive on its third possession, which was punctuated by Wallace’s nine yard TD catch. And Brandon Gibson had two catches for 32 yards from Tannehill on Miami’s other first-half scoring drive, which ended with a Lamar Miller four-yard TD run.
### Tannehill closed 10 for 15 for 141 yards and the touchdown. “I thought Ryan managed the game pretty well,” Philbin said. “We had some big play opportunities we missed. He had Brian Hartline one time and missed that play. Overall, he played good.”
Matt Moore, constantly harrassed, finished a dismal 3 for 11 for 15 yards.
### Daniel Thomas outperformed Lamar Miller for the second straight game. Thomas had four carries for 25 yards and one catch for 27 yards on a shovel pass. Miller ran for just 10 yards on five carries, was limited to three yards on two receptions, and dropped a short pass on 3rd and 2 on Miami’s second drive. Philbin was upset about Miller’s drop.
### Jonas Gray (4 for 14) and Mike Gillislee (3 for 9) had nondescript nights. Marcus Thigpen carried twice for nine yards.
### Jonathan Martin played well, but backup left tackle remains a mess. Just as Dallas Thomas proved in the opener that he isn’t equipped to be Martin’s backup, Will Yeatman apparently isn’t, either. Yeatman allowed two sacks, and most of the backup offensive line remains inadequate. One exception is Lance Louis, who made his Dolphins debut as the second-team right guard.
Four of Houston’s five sacks came against the Dolphins’ backup offensive line.
### Josh Samuda struggled at right guard, allowing a sack and a tackle for a loss on a run. John Jerry could return to practice this week, and he and Louis remain the best options at that position.
### Cameron Wake and impressive undrafted rookie Tristan Okpalaugo had Miami’s two sacks. Reshad Jones, on a safety blitz, forced an incompletion with a near sack on Houston’s second possession.
### None of the receivers competing for the fourth and fifth spots did anything to seize a job. Rishard Matthews had one catch for 7 yards and dropped another pass. Brian Tyms could have scored on a deep ball if Moore didn’t overthrow him. Pruitt had one catch for nine yards, Marvin McNutt 1 for 7. Chad Bumphis, Jeff Fuller and Keenan Davis didn’t catch a pass.
And Bumphis, given a chance on punt returns, had two fair catches, including one when he seemingly had space to attempt a return. He returned a third punt for four yards. Thigpen assuredly will be the punt returner.
### Neither of the top contenders for the No. 4 cornerback job --- Nolan Carroll and Will Davis – played well. Davis was beaten for a 23-yard catch by Keyshawn Martin and on a 38-yard TD by Lestar Jean. As Bob Griese noted on the telecast, opponents have noticed that Davis has a tendency to jump routes to try to make interceptions, which leaves him vulnerable at times, including on Jean’s stop-and-go for the touchdown.
“I apologize for the double move. I jumped the double move,” Davis tweeted after the game. “Glad I learned it now that later. Learning every day.”
What’s more, Davis was admonished by special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi after he apparently forgot whether to enter the game for a Houston extra point, which resulted in a Dolphins penalty.
Carroll was beaten on two potential touchdown passes, but both were overthrown by Case Keenum. Carroll said overall defensively, “there was bad communication. Some guys were not communicating across the board.”
### Aside from a few good plays (Brent Grimes’ interception, a nifty pass breakup by Dimitri Patterson, and solid coverage by Koa Misi on a deep pass to Garrett Graham), the Dolphins’ pass defense was largely inadequate.
Matt Schaub, Keenum and T.J. Yates combined to go 26 for 38 for 303 yards. Safety Kelcie McCray was beaten by Owen Daniels on a 15-yard touchdown. Safety Jordan Kovacs seemed overwhelmed in coverage a couple of times.
What's comforting is that the starting defense played pretty well in its 2 1/2 series.
### Backup defensive linemen Derrick Shelby and Kheeston Randall continued their good work. Both had outstanding stops on two running plays; Randall forced Keenum to get rid of the ball prematurely; and Shelby batted down a pass. Linebacker Josh Kaddu and defensive tackle A.J. Francis also had their moments; Kaddu forced a fumble, which Lee Robinson recovered.
### Houston averaged 4.0 yards per carry, compared to the Dolphins’ 3.4…. Cornerback Jamar Taylor played in his first game as a Dolphin… Caleb Sturgis hit a 43-yard field goal... Jimmy Wilson's taunting penalty was his second personal foul penalty in two games... Philbin’s overview: “We did some good things [but] there is a lot of room for improvement. We had some penalties, things that slowed us down a bit.”
### Please check back Sunday morning for the Sunday buzz column and check out the last post for UM news.