The Miami Dolphins return home for the penultimate game of the preseason, when they will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what is traditionally considered a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Unlike the first three games, when starters played for barely a quarter, the first unit offense and defense could play up to three quarters on Saturday night.
"I'm excited to see our guys compete," head coach Joe Philbin said Thursday. "You learn about your team every single week in the NFL. That's kind of the beauty, challenge and the exciting part about it."
Miami's roster is getting close to set, but there are a number of story lines to watch that could have a major impact on the Dolphins' final roster cuts. Here are five:
1. Which tight end will fill the hole created by Dustin Keller's season-ending injury? With Keller gone for the year, Miami's tight end group suffered a major setback. Charles Clay will likely start, but Michael Egnew, Kyle Miller, and Dion Sims will get a chance to overtake him on the depth chart. "We are going to have to see how the various tight ends perform during the course of the game," Philbin said.
2. Can Dmitri Patterson lock down the second starting cornerback job? Patterson has taken most of the first-team snaps since Richard Marshall was cut earlier this week. Additionally, CBs Will Davis and RJ Stanford will be looking to make cases for inclusion on the roster.
3. Can Lamar Miller separate himself from Daniel Thomas? Miller was the presumed front-runner for the starting running back job heading into camp, but he has not exactly blown away the competition. A solid performance Saturday would help Miller solidify his status as the number-one back.
4. Who will take the lead in the race for the final two WR roster spots? Marvin McNutt, Chad Bumphis, Rishard Matthews, and Julius Pruitt are vying for inclusion on the final roster, and they are running out of chances to make their case.
5. Will John Jerry play? The right guard's injury troubles have thrown a wrench into the offensive line rotations. Even though he is expected to be the starter when the real games begin, Philbin said of Jerry, "it's still good to get some game snaps under your belt before the season starts."
Kickoff is at 7:30pm, with coverage on WFOR.