DAVIE, Fla. - The Miami Dolphins devoted a significant portion of Thursday's practice toward preparing for their second preseason game Saturday at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose strong secondary should face the preseason debut of wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Much of the buzz throughout the offseason centered on new coordinator Bill Lazor's up-tempo offense, and the potential explosive play-making ability with Wallace being put in motion to create mismatches. But Wallace has been catching more passes from the JUGS machine of late than quarterback Ryan Tannehill as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Wallace said he is "totally comfortable" with the offense, while acknowledging the system is still being installed with less than a month before the regular-season opener. He does expect to make his preseason debut Saturday and begin adjusting to the speed of live game action and working on his timing with Tannehill.
"Not so much as the plays, just the rapid fire of the offense you need to go, so you can have your endurance up," Wallace said of the benefits to getting into a preseason game. "Just two days off in this offense will have you gassed. You have to keep going and keep building your endurance every single day. So I definitely need to go out there and get some plays in."
Rather than staying on one side of the field this season, Wallace will often be on the move in search of mismatches. The goal is to spring Wallace for more of the big plays that were his trademark with the Pittsburgh Steelers but largely disappeared during his first season with Miami.
"I don't care about what (anybody) says. I know how much work we put in and how hard we work every single day," he said of the criticism of his lack of big plays in 2013. "I feel like it is going to come and it is going to happen for us. We just have to stay confident and keep working at it every single day."
Tannehill might lead the first-team offense for three possessions this week as Philbin said he wants the unit to get more snaps. They played one possession last week and Tannehill was 6-for-6 passing for 62 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
"We're going to get them on the field a little bit more and we're looking to see consistent production out of our offense," Philbin said.
--WR Brian Hartline, who didn't play against Atlanta last week, is likely to play Saturday at Tampa Bay. That could be a noticeable boost to the offense. Hartline, who has had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, is Tannehill's favorite target.
--RB Knowshon Moreno, who had offseason knee surgery, looks better each day, although it is still doubtful Moreno will play Saturday.
"I think in the running game he's starting to look like kind of his old self," coach Joe Philbin said. "I don't know about the passing game quite yet, but I saw a glimpse or two where I think he was making a play or two over there. So we're going to take a look at the tape and see where he's at."
--QB Matt Moore, who didn't play against Atlanta due to a shoulder injury, might see extended playing time against Tampa Bay.
--QB Brady Quinn, signed Tuesday as a free agent, had a shaky day throwing the ball Thursday. Some passes were low and others were off target. Brady threw better Wednesday, when his arm looked fairly strong. It's unknown how much he will play Saturday.
--DE Dion Jordan, who played about 30 snaps against Atlanta, will likely play that many or more Saturday at Tampa Bay. Jordan will serve a four-game suspension when the season begins so coaches are trying to get him as much time as possible in preseason.
"Personally, my mindset is just come out here every day, whether I'm on the field or I'm in the meeting rooms or when I'm away the facility, I'm going to make sure I'm ready to play ball on a daily basis," he said. "That's what it all comes down to."
--LB Jordan Tripp, the rookie fifth-round pick from Montana, got work with the first team defense Thursday. Tripp, who has showed good agility and awareness, is also getting a look as one of the two linebackers in the nickel defense. Tripp will certainly be a reserve - he's not a threat to be a fulltime starter -- but he's pushing to become a top reserve.
--KOR/PR Marcus Thigpen needs a good performance at Tampa Bay. Rookie WR Jarvis Landry did a good job against Atlanta, and if he wins those jobs it jeopardizes Thigpen's roster spot.
--C Samson Satele, signed last week, had a good performance in extended time against Atlanta last week. He'll likely get another extended performance this week.
--TE Michael Egnew has to impress this week. The third-round pick in 2012 seems to be in good shape to make the 53-man roster behind starter Charles Clay and top reserve Dion Sims. But underdogs such as Brett Brackett, Gator Hoskins and Arthur Lynch, the fifth-round pick from Georgia, are closing the gap.
--K Caleb Sturgis, who has been sidelined with a groin injury, was kicking 30-yard field goals in Thursday's practice. He remains doubtful to kick Saturday at Tampa Bay. Most likely recently-signed Danny Hrapmann will handle the duties again Saturday.