Preseason Game 3: Highlights and Lowlights

The first preseason connections between Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace was the best news to come out of Saturday's preseason game at Houston, but it the knee injury sustained by tight end Dustin Keller that stood out on a night when the Dolphins took steps forward in some areas and backward in others.

THE HIGHLIGHTS

• You have to start with Wallace, who had three catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, with each catch showing a different skill. On his 16-yard reception, his speed scared cornerback Johnathan Joseph enough that Joseph gave him a large cushion, which made it easy for Wallace to just cut outside with plenty of separation. On the 33-yarder down the sideline, Wallace made a nice adjustment on a ball that Tannehill would later wasn't where he wanted to put it. And then on the touchdown, Wallace found the open spot on a simple spot route, settling in between two defenders to catch Tannehill's fastball. Wallace also earned praised from Coach Joe Philbin for his kick-out block on Lamar Miller's 4-yard touchdown, although we shouldn't start expecting Wallace to become a big factor in the run game. What the Houston game showed, though, was that Wallace isn't just about running fly patterns.

• Tannehill had a solid performance overall, even though it probably wasn't quite as good as his 119.0 rating might suggest. There were times when Tannehill still seemed to hold on to the ball too long, although he should earn points for avoiding turnovers. He also deserves credit for turning a would-be sack into a 6-yard gain when he used his athletic ability to get out of trouble on the play before the 33-yard hook-up with Wallace. The TD pass also was a throw that not every quarterback in the league can make because it required enough velocity to get between the two Houston defenders.

• The first-team defense continues to look really, really good. And this effort was more impressive than last week's because it came against Houston and not Jacksonville. It was interesting to see the starters get pulled after the Texans picked up a first down on their third drive when Miami got caught a blitz, leaving running back Ben Tate open in the flat for a third-down conversion. It also was great to see Brent Grimes end the first drive with a pick when he jumped a route and then Cameron Wake ended the second drive with a second where he manhandled Houston right tackle Derek Newton in a one-on-one matchup.

• A couple of rookie free agent defensive linemen stood out in the second half, and that would be DT A.J. Francis and DE Tristan Okpalaugo. Francis dominated for a period of time in the second half, while Okpalaugo had a sack for the third straight preseason game.

• A few days after officially winning the kicking job, Caleb Sturgis had another good night. He had only one field goal attempt, making a 43-yarder in the third quarter, but three of his four kickoffs ended in touchbacks and the fourth was returned only to the 19-yard line.

Daniel Thomas continues to look impressive this summer. He had the longest run of the night for the Dolphins with a 13-yard gain and also turned a shovel pass into a 27-yard gain on third-and-13 to set up Miller's short touchdown run. The truth right now is that Thomas is outplaying Miller.

THE LOWLIGHTS

• There's no need to say much about it because it's already been talked about enough, but you have to start with the Dustin Keller. Everything else pales in comparison.

• While the first-team defense was strong, we clearly couldn't say the same for the backups. Immediately after replacing the starters, the backup defense gave up completions of 19, 11 and 15 yards, the last a TD pass to tight end Owen Daniels. It was a tough night for rookie corner Will Davis, who got victimized a couple of times, most notably when he bit on Lestar Jean's quick stop-and-go move and let him get behind for a 38-yard touchdown on fourth-and-2.

• Davis wasn't alone in pass coverage problems. As a whole, the Dolphins just couldn't cover the Houston tight ends, who combined for nine catches and two touchdowns, the other a 33-yard hook-up from T.J. Yates to Garrett Graham in the third quarter.

• There's been a lot of focus on the starting offensive line, but the backup O-line had a hard time protecting the quarterback. Matt Moore ended up playing about two quarters — from late in the second quarter to late in the fourth — and was sacked four times. On another play, his arm was hit as he threw the ball, resulting in a wounded duck that should have been an easy interception but was dropped by rookie linebacker Justin Tuggle.

• Will Yeatman got the shot as the second left tackle after Jonathan Martin and let's just say he had a rough outing. Among the first unit, right guard Josh Samuda had a couple of breakdowns.

• The offense ended up with only 208 total yards and the two biggest culprits were the sacks and dropped passes. The most glaring drop came from Lamar Miller when he was wide open in the flat on third down but let the ball bounce off his chest to kill the drive.

• Rookie wide receiver Chad Bumphis, one of the revelations of camp, was given the opportunity to return punts but didn't look overly confident as he fair-caught three of the four kicks he caught — it looked like he had room on at least two of them. On his one return, he picked up only 4 yards. This, however, only will become an issue if something happens to Marcus Thigpen, who clearly is established as the Dolphins' punt and kickoff returner.

• Because of how bad the injury looked and how damaging it could be to the offense, let's repeat the first lowlight and close up with the injury to Keller.

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