NFL Preseason Preview - Tampa Bay (0-0) at Miami (0-0)
Saturday, August 14, 2010, 7pm Kickoff
(Sports Network) - Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall is expected to make his debut in a Miami Dolphins uniform Saturday night, when the Fins play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the preseason lid-lifter for both teams.
Marshall, who had a productive but troubled four-year stint with the Denver Broncos, was acquired by the Dolphins on April 14th in the interests of propping up an inconsistent offensive attack. The 26-year-old Marshall, who comes off three consecutive 100-catch seasons, was acquired in exchange for a pair of second-round picks.
In keeping with early preseason tradition, Marshall and the first-team Dolphins offense is not expected to get much time on Saturday night, though there will be some storylines worth watching at Sun Life Stadium.
A new-look Miami defense, now presided over by former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan, will be trying to turn the page after finishing in the bottom half of the league in most meaningful defensive categories last season. First-round rookie Jared Odrick (Penn State) will be seeking to make an impact at defensive end, and with Joey Porter and Jason Taylor now ex-Dolphins, the lesser-known likes of Cameron Wake, Quentin Moses, Charlie Anderson and second-round rookie Koa Misi (Utah) will have to establish themselves as competent pass rushers.
The biggest battle in the Miami secondary is at free safety, where Tyrone Culver, Chris Clemons, and fifth-round rookie Reshad Jones will all have an opportunity on Saturday.
On offense, holdovers Greg Camarillo, Brian Hartline, and Davone Bess are all attempting to win a starting job opposite Marshall.
Meanwhile, with one of the youngest and least certain rosters in football, the preseason will be a critical time for the Buccaneers and head coach Raheem Morris.
Offensively, the Bucs need to see continued development from second-year quarterback Josh Freeman, and young wideouts Arrelious Benn (2nd Round, Illinois) and Mike Williams (4th Round, Syracuse) must navigate the sharp learning curve. Otherwise, the big question marks are on defense, which Morris himself will coordinate this season.
The NFL's worst run-stopping team of a year ago needs immediate contributions from rookie tackles Gerald McCoy (1st Round, Oklahoma) and Brian Price (2nd Round, UCLA), must have a player like Tim Crowder or Kyle Moore prove worthy of a starting job at a depleted end position, and would like to see secondary newcomers like safety Sean Jones and third-round corner Myron Lewis (Vanderbilt) make an impact.
Miami holds a 15-9 edge in the all-time preseason series with Tampa Bay, including a 10-6 road victory when the clubs squared off prior to last season.
The teams also met in meaningful play last Nov. 15, when the Dolphins were 25-23 home winners thanks to a last-second field goal by kicker Dan Carpenter.