The Miami Dolphins opened the preseason against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Saturday and, as always in these games, the final score wasn't nearly as important as the evaluation of the players and positional units.
When it comes to players, there was a clear list of those really worth watching and we came up with 13 of them — not intentionally, but maybe as an ode to Dan Marino.
Here was the list, and an update on how each of them performed against the Bears:
QB TUA TAGOVAILOA
BEFORE THE GAME: You didn't actually think we'd start with anybody else, did you? Let's be honest, nothing is more important for the Dolphins this summer than the development of their second-quarterback and his stats against the Bears and the other preseason opponents won't matter nearly as much as how he runs the offense.
IN THE GAME: Yes, Tua threw a bad interception on his final pass of the game (and, no, it wasn't Adam Shaheen's fault), but it overall was a really, really good performance with more than his share of really impressive throws. The highlight was the 50-yard pass to Mike Gesicki, but we can think of at least four passes that were more impressive. So, again, a really good outing for Tua.
WR JAYLEN WADDLE
BEFORE THE GAME: The game against the Bears might provide us with the first real glimpse of how the Dolphins plan to use their speedy first-round pick and what kind of immediate impact he can make for the offense.
IN THE GAME: Waddle started in the slot and played 19 snaps on offense, but wasn't a factor at all as he wasn't targeted once. He returned one punt and took advantage of a long, low kick to return 24 yards as part of what was a tremendous outing by the punt return unit.
S JEVON HOLLAND
BEFORE THE GAME: The rookie second-round pick from Oregon has been a ball hawk in practice, no matter how much coach Brian Flores insists what matters is fundamentals, technique, alignment, assignments and communication. Holland definitely is in contention to land a starting job as a rookie and if he keeps making plays in the preseason he might make the decision easy for Dolphins coaches.
IN THE GAME: Holland came in off the bench to replace Jason McCourty at the deep safety position and ended up playing 33 snaps, tied for second-highest total on defense. Holland had a quiet game as he did not show on the stat sheet, though he also wasn't beaten for any pass.
LB BENARDRICK McKINNEY
BEFORE THE GAME: Now, we wouldn't expect McKinney — or any of the other veteran front-line players — to play a whole lot against the Bears, but the free agent acquisition has been so impressive against the run in practice, it's left us looking to see more in the preseason.
IN THE GAME: McKinney started but barely saw any action, coming out after playing only five snaps. His one tackle came after tight end Cole Kmet gained 3 yards on a short pass from Andy Dalton.
C MICHAEL DEITER
BEFORE THE GAME: The third-year player from Wisconsin has taken the snaps with the first-team offense pretty much the entire training camp, so it appears he'll be the starting center. He's also an important player when it comes to how well the offensive line can progress in 2021.
IN THE GAME: Deiter ended up playing almost half the offensive snaps (33 of 67) and, like just about everybody else up front, had his moments. The highlights included some great pass blocking at times (particularly on the bomb to Gesicki) and the lowlights included the inability to get into the end zone after a second-and-goal from the 1-yard line, though who bears responsibility for that failure was hard to immediately determine.
LB BRENNAN SCARLETT
BEFORE THE GAME: The book on Scarlett when he joined the Dolphins was that of a special teams standout with some pass-rushing ability. But he's shown more than just "some" pass-rushing skills throughout camp and it's going to be interesting if he can keep that up in the preseason.
IN THE GAME: Scarlett started at outside linebacker opposite Andrew Van Ginkel as the Dolphins opened in a 3-4 alignment, but he was very quiet in his 16 snaps. He also played 12 snaps on special teams and assisted on one tackle on a kickoff return.
WR LYNN BOWDEN JR.
BEFORE THE GAME: This list includes a lot of players who have shined in camp, but Bowden is kind of the opposite in that he's had a very quiet camp so far after flashing really intriguing potential as a rookie in 2020. Bowden has been quiet enough, in fact, that it looks like he'll need a strong preseason to make the 53-man roster.
IN THE GAME: This was a really good outing for Bowden, who played the most snaps of any receiver and led the team with four catches. Two of those came on back-to-back plays during the two-minute touchdown drive at the end of the first half. Bowden also had one kickoff return for 17 yards.
TE CETHAN CARTER
BEFORE THE GAME: Carter has been really impressive in practice as a receiver, which wasn't necessarily considered his forte when he arrived as a free agent in the offseason. Again, can he keep it up in the preseason?
IN THE GAME: Carter was not targeted once on offense, but he played only six snaps before being injured when Myles Gaskin landed on him while being tackles on a running play. Carter completely neutralized a Bears defender on that play and was just the victim of bad luck. He also played eight snaps on special teams.
RB GERRID DOAKS
IN THE GAME: The rookie seventh-round pick has some running skills and physicality to his game, but he's really struggled at catching the ball. That has to change if he gets opportunities in the passing game against the Bears.
BEFORE THE GAME: Doaks played 10 snaps on offense as a backup along with six snaps on special teams, where he was called for an illegal block penalty on a kickoff return. Doaks didn't have much success on the ground (three carries, minus-2 yards), though that was the result of a lack of blocking up front and his only catch went for minus-3 yards after the Bears successfully challenged that his knee had touched the ground before he got up and ran downfield.
WR ROBERT FOSTER
BEFORE THE GAME: Foster appears to be in the thick of the race for one of the roster spots at wide receiver, but he's slowed down a bit after a torrid start to camp. This is his chance to build his momentum back up.
IN THE GAME: Foster played 29 snaps on offense, second-most among wide receivers, but didn't catch a pass on his two targets, though the Bears defender was awfully handsy on one of them. Foster also got four snaps on special teams.
LB SHAQUEM GRIFFIN
BEFORE THE GAME: He's on this list because Griffin is just a bundle of energy, and we're still waiting to get a firm grasp of what he could bring to the Dolphins defense — assuming he makes the 53-man roster.
IN THE GAME: Griffin came off the bench to play 27 snaps on defense, along with 10 on special teams. He assisted on three tackles and showed great hustle to chase down Justin Fields from behind on a scramble and force a fumble (that Fields recovered).
CB NOAH IGBINOGHENE
BEFORE THE GAME: There's really no need to explain this one. This is a key player for the Dolphins in the not-so-far future and the Dolphins would love to see some progress in his development. He had a pretty good week of practice against the Bears, and this is an opportunity to build on that work.
IN THE GAME: Igbinoghene started with Xavien Howard and Byron Jones sitting out the game and played 33 snaps on defense and 12 on special teams. This was a good outing for Igbinoghene, who had great coverage on one third down to force an incompletion, tackled the receiver short of the first-down marker on a third-and-5 completion and had good coverage on a 15-yard completion he allowed — though he failed to turn around in time to make a play on the ball. This was among the most encouraging aspects of the game for Miami.
G DURVAL QUEIROZ NETO
BEFORE THE GAME: Queiroz is just flat out a fascinating prospect because of his background, coming over from Brazil and now in his third season. The question here is what he actually will play against the Bears after sitting out practice Thursday. Whenever he does make his preseason debut, this definitely is a player to watch.
IN THE GAME: Queiroz was not announced beforehand as one of the players not expected to play for the Dolphins, but that ended up being the case for him. So his 2021 preseason debut will have to wait at least another week.