The Miami Dolphins finished the preseason with a 2-1 record. New head coach Mike McDaniel opted to hold out several key starters for most of the exhibition slate but there were several players who stood out. While opportunity may be limited for some of these preseason juggernauts during the regular season, they played exceptionally well when given the opportunity this summer. Judging by the team’s overall performance, McDaniel and his staff constructed a roster with serviceable depth heading into the 2022 season.
Here are some of the best.
Skylar Thompson has been the talk of the town since starting and winning the first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The seventh-round pick quickly made a name for himself despite the two former first-round pick veterans above him on the depth chart.
Thompson’s numbers over the three-game sample are outstanding. The rookie started one game but had limited opportunities in the other two when Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater played. Even so, Thompson finished with 450 passing yards and five touchdowns while completing a whopping 75% of his passes. A roster spot was not promised for the 247th overall pick, however, he seemed confident in what he had showcased to the coaching staff.
“I think I’ve done everything I can do,” Thompson said. “You know, everything in my control.”
There is no doubt Thompson has gotten the attention of coaches and general managers around the league after such a strong beginning. While his situation in Miami may not pan out due to current depth at quarterback, he will eventually receive an opportunity at some point as he continues to develop.
Elijah Campbell has been a journeyman since being signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2018. After spending two years playing in spring leagues (AAF and XFL), Campbell found his way back to the NFL playing first for the New York Jets and now the Dolphins. Spending much of last year on injured reserve, the former Northern Iowa Panther seems poised to contribute to the team following a strong preseason performance.
While a roster spot was not a given for Campbell, the interception he returned for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Reid Sinnett in the preseason finale definitely helped him make his case.
Campbell finished the three games with six total tackles, three passes defended and two interceptions, one for a touchdown. What makes those numbers even more impressive is that Campbell logged only 55 snaps during the preseason and still managed takeaways in two of the three games.
The cornerback position is one of concern for the Dolphins with starter Byron Jones currently battling an Achilles injury and backup Trill Williams tearing his ACL in the first preseason game.
Erik Ezukanma was Miami’s fourth-round pick this year and has shown flashes of promise throughout training camp. The rookie was drafted by a team with a stacked wide receiver room headlined by new addition Tyreek Hill and second-year man Jaylen Waddle. Even so, Ezukanma showed he adds value to the team and could be poised to get some playing time in his rookie season.
The former Texas Tech Red Raider had a statement performance against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second preseason game. He finished with six receptions for 114 yards, making some incredibly skillful catches in the process.
Overall, Ezukanma finished with a total of 10 receptions for 156 yards over the three-game span while playing a limited number of snaps. There may not be an opportunity for Ezukanma to play much during the regular season, but he made the most of his chances and led the team in receiving yards during the preseason.
Myles Gaskin led the Dolphins in rushing yards in 2021 and did the same in the three games he played during the preseason. After Miami added three high-profile veteran running backs during free agency, many wondered whether Gaskin would remain on the team past training camp. While his spot on the roster was never a guarantee, the former seventh-round pick proved why he deserved to stick around after a strong showing this preseason.
As the roster currently stands, Gaskin is considered the third-string running back on the depth chart. After starting for most of the previous two years and consistently performing for Miami, Gaskin the backup is a luxury for coach McDaniel.
Gaskin silenced the doubters with a team-leading 78 yards on 14 carries over the three-game preseason sample. As the former Washington Husky enters his fourth year with Miami, it’s unlikely he’ll continue the exponential growth he’s shown every year due to the Dolphins’ loaded running back room. Even so, Gaskin should find a role in the offense as the season goes on and he will continue to contribute when given the opportunity.
A great showing during the preseason was imperative for Jason Sanders after a subpar 2021 season. Sanders converted under 75% of his field goal attempts for the first time in his career since being drafted by the Dolphins in 2018. This down year came only one season removed from Miami extending Sanders through the 2026 season, making his struggles all the more frustrating. With many organizations having a short leash on kickers, Sanders had to prove a point during the three games he played.
Entering his fifth season for Miami, Sanders performed exceptionally well during the three-game sample, hitting a nearly-perfect 8 of 9 field-goal attempts and 9 of 9 extra-point tries. Additionally, the former New Mexico standout had the game-winning field goal in the first preseason game against the Buccaneers.
Sanders’ lone miss came during the second game against the Las Vegas Raiders when he missed a 46-yard field goal that would have given the Dolphins the lead with under two minutes to play. Although he couldn’t convert a possible game-winning opportunity, Sanders did hit a preseason-long 57-yard field goal earlier which was satisfying to see.
The former all-pro kicker seems to be ready to have a comeback season this year.