Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers: Five Things To Look For

The Dolphins' second pre-season game tonight against the Carolina Panthers should be interesting, in that the entire roster remains in flux with five weeks left to go before the season starts.

Players are injured, the receiving corps is a huge question mark, and our once-reliable kicker is now just a mound of cat shit with a helmet.

But Ryan Tannehill will be starting! So, hey, that's something!

1. Tannehill The Starter
So it comes to this, maybe. First round pick Ryan Tannehill gets the start tonight and he's going out there equipped with a banged up offensive line and a receiving corps made up of Davone Bess, a Star Wars character, and a dude who runs routes like he's got a pair of dog carcasses tied to his feet. That is sooo the Dolphins.

In his debut last week, Tannehill looked poised (whatever the shit that's worth), and made some pretty passes, leading the team to their only touchdown of the game. He also showed his knack for getting out of trouble with his mobility, and his grasp of the offense looks really solid.

Everyone wants the dude to be The Guy. Sweet Baby Jesus In The Manger With His Baby Einstein DVDs knows we've waited long enough for Dan Marino's heir to finally show up.

Tonight might give us a glimpse into whether or not that will be the case. If he can play well with the shit cards he's been dealt, we should all feel good. And by that I mean we should all be totally irrational about it and declare to the world that Ryan Tannehill will lead us to the next 8 Super Bowls. That's just how we Dolphins fans roll, baby.

2. Banged up Fins
The Dolphins love to be super-secret about their injury reports, because clearly the competition can't defeat them unless they know Clyde Gates has a bruise on his foot.

Karlos "Chancletas" Dansby did not practice this week because of injury. Nor did Kevin Burnett. Cameron Wake remains out as he recovers from a mysterious injury after being involved in an auto accident. Tony McDaniel is also dinged up. That's pretty much all the important people in the defensive front seven. Weeeeee!!

David Garrard is out for several weeks with a bad knee.

Offensive lineman Eric Steinbach is also injured, which means either Artis Hicks or John Jerry will start tonight, which means HOLY SHIT RYAN TANNEHILL IS GOING TO FUCKING DIE.

3. With Ochocinco eighty-sixed, who steps up?
With Chad Johnson given the boot following his arrest last week, the Dolphins receiving corps suddenly looks about as exciting as any football team with an insanely middling receiving corps would look.

Brian Hartline is still injured with a calf strain (no more Honky Tonkin' for you!). This means Roberto Wallace and Star Wars character-named Legedu Naanee will be looking to lock up a spot in the starting rotation alongside Mr. Reliable, Davone Bess. Naanee spent last season with the Panthers, compiling 44 receptions and 467 yards.

Wallace, who is big and strong and has good hands, remains an enigma. Because he sucks. Although he did lead all receivers last week against Tampa Bay with 71 yards on four catches.

4. VD Out?
As you may or may not have seen on Hard Knocks, Vontae Davis has been in coach Philbin's doghouse from the GO. He's lollygagged in practice and was late to a drill because he really, really had to take a leak. Suddenly Richard Marshall, whom the Fins signed in the off-season, is threatening to take Davis' job. Marshall played opposite Sean Smith last week against the Bucs, while VD worked with the second team. Davis has a lot of talent, but he's got to get his shit together.

5. Meh, It's Preseason
With all that said, it's still pre-season, which means we don't know dick when it comes to this team. All we know is that it all makes for compelling premium cable television! The main focus tonight will obviously be Tannehill's performance. He suddenly has an excellent chance to lock down the starter's job. So let's all hope he does just that. Let's also hope the offensive line doesn't get him mauled.

You can watch tonight's game on CBS-4 (Channel 34 West Palm Beach). Kickoff is at 8 p.m.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph