Around the AFC East: Miami Dolphins


Aug 17, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller (81) is carted off the field with an injury during the first half against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After a week-end of preseason games wrapped up, there are a number of storylines and news not just in New England but in the AFC East in general.  With the Patriots playing the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Miami Dolphins twice each season, it is imperative to remain up-to-date on the divisional competition.  With Buffalo and the Jets as the first two games of the regular season in September, and with Miami picked to be the breakout performer this season after an offseason of free agent activity, be sure that the New England scouts are watching all three teams closely.

Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller’s gruesome right knee injury last night against the Houston Texans overshadowed the positive development of an on-field connection between Dolphins second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill and expensive free-agent signing wide receiver Mike Wallace. Keller was expected to be a key piece of the offense and was lauded  repeatedly in the preseason for his immediate fit and comfort working with Tannehill. After letting long-time tight end Anthony Fasano leave in free agency, the former New York Jet receiving tight end was expected to give Miami the weapon at tight end they had long been looking for in their offense.

The Dolphins have presently not given details about Keller’s injury after the game and an MRI is scheduled today, but the film doesn’t look like it is any injury other than a season-ender for the versatile and athletic tight end. To be blunt, it just doesn’t look good for him in 2013. For Miami, there is additional pressure put on third receiver Brandon Gibson as the backup tight ends Charles Clay, Michael Egnew, and Dion Sims simply do not have the skills and pedigree of Keller.  For Miami, Dallas Clark would have been a great replacement for Keller, but he signed in Baltimore this past week. Trading Davone Bess to the Browns on draft day now seems like a short-sighted move by Miami as they will try to find a roster option to attack the middle of the field.

The running game was again a mixed bag for Miami against a stout Houston defense Saturday night. Daniel Thomas had a few decent rushes and a great catch-and-run for 27 yards, but was limited in playing time. He may be close to locking up the lead back role. Lamar Miller had a nice run to reach the end zone, but otherwise had difficulty finding running room. The team totalled just 81 yards on the ground over 24 attempts for a 3.4 yard average (22 for 70 not counting quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s scrambles). The other downside on offense was the offensive line giving up a total of six sacks in the passing game.

The highlight of the game for Miami was free agent Mike Wallace looking like a number one receiver and letting Dolphins fans exhale after holding their collective breath waiting for him to show up on the field and make big plays.  With three receptions for 58 yards including a nice touchdown reception, Mike Wallace looked like the 2011 consistent big play receiver from Pittsburgh whom the Dolphins had in mind when inking him to a five year $60 million contract this offseason, not the hold-out/disgruntled receiver from last season who never seemed to get on the same page with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.