Preseason Opener: Five Players to Watch

TE Michael Egnew

The Dolphins open the NFL preseason schedule on Sunday night when they take on the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Like all preseason openers, this game will be about checking out what the young players can do.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is a young player, but given that he's firmly established as the starter as he heads into his second year, one would expect to get much playing time against the Cowboys — maybe as much as a quarter, but probably not much more than that.

The same goes for all the established starters on the team, guys like Brent Grimes, Cameron Wake, Richie Incognito and Dustin Keller.

But Sunday's game is the first chance young players will have to make an impression on the coaching staff facing another team.

Here are the five guys I would recommend paying attention to on Sunday night:

1. WR Chad Bumphis — The Dolphins have three established wide receivers in Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson, but there's no other proven commodity on the roster. Armon Binns and second-year player Rishard Matthews were expected to be the front-runners for the fourth and fifth wide receiver spots, but Binns has been waived/injured already and Matthews has been on the shelf for several days with an undisclosed injury. A lot of the young receivers have taken turns with impressive practice performances, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one who has been as consistent day in and day out as Bumphis. Now it's time to see if he can do it against another team.

2. LT Jonathan Martin — If any projected starter wind up seeing more action than the others, it very well might be Martin, who is about to enter his first season as the full-time left tackle. Coach Joe Philbin said this week he's been happy with Martin's progress but wants to see more consistency in his hand-punching. Martin isn't likely to see much of DeMarcus Ware in this game, although that certainly would be a good test. Regardless of who he's facing, Martin needs a good showing after a stretch of practices that could be considered less than overwhelming.

3. K Caleb Sturgis — The rookie fifth-round pick returned to practice on Wednesday night after missing a few kicks with a leg problem and he showed more consistency kicking in team drills. As I've stated since he was drafted, he will win the job from veteran Dan Carpenter if he can prove dependable in game situations, and it starts Sunday. That's, of course, that Philbin picks Sturgis to handle the placekicking chores, which seems like the logical thing to do considering the Dolphins pretty much already know what they have in Carpenter.

4. TE Michael Egnew — After a disappointing — a kind of way of putting it — rookie season, Egnew hasn't shown much this summer to convince anyone he's ready to bounce back in 2013. On the contrary, Egnew has been very inconsistent, seemingly taking one step back every time he takes one forward. At this point, it seems like Egnew is headed for a ticket out of town when the roster cuts have to be made. Of course, Egnew can change all that with some impressive performances in the preseason.

5. DE Dion Jordan — You didn't think we were going to forget about the first-round pick, did you? Jordan is coming off a tremendous week of practice when he made a lot of plays — and the best news was that they weren't all as a pass rusher. Jordan showed on Friday the ability to recognize and sniff out a screen pass and also made a stop on a running play. Of course, the Dolphins got him to rush the passer, so it will be fun to watch what kind of success he can have against the Dallas offensive line.

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