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It seems like the preseason only just begun, but the Miami Dolphins are already at the end of their run of dress rehearsals to prepare for the 2011 season. The Dolphins will take on the Dallas Cowboys Thursday night in the final game of the 2011 preseason, and even though no one will be be able to watch the game live on TV in South Florida, there will be plenty of story lines to follow.
Here are five questions to ponder as Miami wraps up preseason play tonight:
1. Who can avoid the chopping block? The Dolphins will trim their roster to 53 players tomorrow, meaning a lot of players are getting one last chance to prove they deserve a job tonight. Will Allen, Lousaka Polite, Philip Merling, Larry Johnson, Marlon Moore, Roberto Wallace and Nolan Carroll, among others, are on the bubble, and they will be looking to impress the coaching staff tonight.
2. Has anyone found Miami's offensive line? Chad Henne's solid performance on Saturday managed to mask the stench coming out of the Dolphins backfield. Miami runners combined for 22 yards on 17 carries, as the offensive line seemed to forget it is supposed to stop the defense from tackling their teammates. Head coach Tony Sparano has been insisting all week he is not worried about the O-line's subpar play as of late, tonight would be a good time for the line to reward his faith.
3. Will Daniel Thomas or Larry Johnson make a splash? Thomas has been nearly invisible this preseason, while recent acquisition Johnson has barely had enough practice reps to get comfortable. One of these two needs to show that they can be a reliable backup to Reggie Bush, expect both to get their carries tonight.
4. Who will win the defensive back derby? The starting free safety and backup cornerback slots are still up for grabs. Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones are gunning for the starting safety job opposite strong safety Yeremiah Bell. Should either make a big play or two tonight, that could effectively win him the job. At cornerback, Allen, Carroll, Benny Sapp, Jimmy Wilson, Nate Ness and Vincent Agnew are looking to make the final roster behind Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. Allen and Sapp are in a tight battle for the nickle back position, while Carroll and Wilson look like the front-runners for the backup spots.
5. Will the fifth WR please stand up? Moore and Wallace are in the lead for the number 5 WR slot, but a big night from Philip Livas, could complicate the situation even further. Unfortunately for Livas, he has been pretty quiet since returning a punt 75 yards for a touchdown in the first preseason game, so the competition could come down to Moore and Wallace.
Game time is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available, but unless you can pirate the Dallas broadcast, you will only be able to watch this game on tape delay.