CHICAGO — The Miami Dolphins will be playing their first preseason game in two years when they face the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field at Saturday (kickoff at 1 p.m. ET on NFL Network), meaning it will be a new experience not only for their rookies but also their second-year players.
This is quite a large group we're talking about, since the Dolphins have 41 players on their active roster — almost half — who are either rookies, first-year or second-year players.
That group, of course, including Tua Tagovailoa and the rest of the draft class of 2020 that never got to chance to play a preseason game last summer after all those games were canceled because of COVID-19.
“I’m ready for it," said guard Solomon Kindley, a fourth-round pick in that 2020 draft. "I’m ready for it. Growing up, I always looked at preseason games, then coming out to play Sunday. It’s my first one and I’m very excited for it.”
Head coach Brian Flores said earlier this week that everybody healthy to play would see action against the Bears, though who plays how much remained to be determined.
For Flores and other head coaches, it's always a question of balancing giving young players game reps and trying to avoid key injuries at the same time.
Logic would suggest that all the members of the last two draft classes would see a decent amount of action against the Bears, and Jevon Holland is absolutely thrilled at the idea of his first NFL preseason game.
“I think it’s going to be dope, man," said Holland, the second-round safety from Oregon. "I think it’s going to be freaking amazing, honestly. I’m having a blast right now. We’re practicing against Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, Jimmy Graham. I was watching these people play. Andy Dalton was on Cincinnati on the Bengals, and Jimmy Graham was going crazy on the Saints. These are some of the people that I grew up watching as a kid, so to be able to practice against them and sweat, grind, it’s kind of surreal for me. I put a smile on my face going out there and playing the game I love.”
The start of the preseason clearly is another big step toward the regular season getting here, and that has veteran cornerback Justin Coleman excited.
"That’s like the kickoff of the season just to see how everybody is going to react to game situations," he said. "Also to see how the younger guys are ready to get in the game and make some plays. I’m looking forward to that.”