The Miami Dolphins will open up their preseason against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Thursday evening.
This off-season was a busy one for Miami with a series of roster changes. The exciting list of transactions has made Miami a playoff contender. The expectations are high and a recent Harvard study even picked the Dolphins as the best team in the AFC.
As is the case with all seasons, the Dolphins will not tax their starters too much in this preseason opener. It can be expected that players such as Ryan Tannehill will only play in the first quarter. The last thing Miami wants is an injury to a starter that will cost it a game or two next month.
This game's final score may not matter at all, but the play on the field will matter in a big way. Miami has several roster decisions to still make and opportunities will be given to some players in this one. With the starters seeing limited minutes, this means an increased workload for others.
One of the more interesting battles to watch will be in the running back spot. Lamar Miller will get the bulk of carries for Miami when the games count. This game will help decide who will mostly get the ball when Miller doesn't. Damien Williams, LaMichael James and Jay Ajayi are all vying for that playing time.
The Dolphins will not be able to get a look at first-round pick DeVante Parker who will miss the entire preseason due to foot surgery. Parker is expected to be ready when the regular season begins. His absence will let Miami see other receivers in action who could end up contributing down the road.
Miami will also get its first glimpse of wide receiver Greg Jennings in its uniform. This will give Tannehill and his backups a new target to throw at. Finding rhythm with a new quarterback takes time for a WR, and these exhibition games make that an easier proposition. Fellow newcomer Kenny Stills is not expected to play in this one.
Thursday's game is set to kick off at 8 p.m.