The Miami Dolphins will take their 1-1 exhibition record to Houston for a matchup with the Texans in Week 2 of the preseason. Considering that this is the Dolphins third preseason game, the starters are expected to play for at least the first quarter as they get set for next week's dress rehearsal.
For players on the roster bubble, this game is one of their final opportunities to make a name for themselves with cuts upcoming. A matchup with the Texans will also prove to be the Dolphins toughest test of the preseason and should give a much clearer picture of where this team stands as the exhibition season winds down and the regular season approaches.
Here are five players to watch during Saturday night's game in Houston:
1) Daniel Thomas, RB
With Lamar Miller the favorite to be the starting running back and the emergence of Jonas Gray and Mike Gillislee, Daniel Thomas is in danger of falling down the depth chart. Thomas had a good showing in last week's game and reports suggest he has had a good week of practice, but a more consistent effort must be shown from him. The third year tailback will get plenty of playing time against the stout Texans defense in order to earn his spot as the backup and to fend off Gray for the opportunity to be used in short yardage situations.
2) Josh Samuda, RG
Samuda will get a second chance to prove himself as capable of being a starting right guard. After a poor performance against the Jaguars, Samuda was replaced by Nate Garner but a shoulder injury Garner suffered in practice will keep him sidelined for a few weeks. Although Samuda will be on the second team offensive line when John Jerry returns, his play with the starting unit against Houston's elite pass rush will give Dolphins management a better idea of the quality of depth they have at the position.
3) Marvin McNutt, WR
Following a strong start to training camp, McNutt is starting to show the qualities that resulted in him being placed on the waiver wire. He has been extremely inconsistent over the past few weeks and is dropping routine passes. McNutt now finds himself trailing in the competition for the final wide receiver spot as Chad Bumphis has continued to impress. For McNutt to have a chance at making the final roster, he will need to make an impact on gameday.
4) Rishard Matthews, WR
Matthews returned to practice this week and is expected to suit up against the Texans. He started camp as the 4th WR and none of the players on the roster bubble really stepped up enough to challenge him for that role. The depth at wide receiver on this team is a slight concern after the top three options, therefore, it wil be interesting to see if Matthews can solidify his role in the final three preseason games.
5) Ryan Tannehill, QB
This is the first time I'm listing Tannehill as a player to watch in the preseason but I want to see if he makes adjustments from the last time he played the Texans; the first and arguably the worst NFL regular season start of his young career. In that game, having passes batted down by the Texans defensive line was an issue for Tannehill and in large part was responsible for his three interceptions and quarterback rating of 39.0. If he is able to correct those issues it will show some of the progress he's made since the start of the 2012 campaign. The first Tannehill-to-Wallace connection during a game will also be something many of us are hoping to see.