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Things we learned in Miami Dolphins’ preseason finale vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE — The Miami Dolphins defense was forced to defend its end zone four times Saturday as Jacksonville entered the red zone on four first-half possessions and took a 17-6 halftime lead in the preseason finale at Everbank Stadium.

Dolphins quarterback Skylar Thompson (8 of 13, 56 yards, no touchdowns, 31.7 passer rating) threw two interceptions, one resulting in a field goal and the other in a touchdown for the Jaguars. 

But running back Salvon Ahmed pushed his case for the 53-man roster (cuts must be made by 4 p.m. Tuesday) by rushing for 43 yards on four carries, the highlight being a 42-yard gain.

Regardless, the Dolphins offense wasn’t that good, going 1 of 6 on third downs in the first half, including one on an incomplete pass in the red zone. The Dolphins were 0 of 2 in the red zone in the first half while Jacksonville was 2 of 4.

Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence was 8 of 10 for 92 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 105.0 passer rating.

Here are some other takeaways from Saturday: 

Tua plays two possessions, Tyreek plays a few plays

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa played two possessions (14 snaps) Saturday against Jacksonville, ending his preseason action with 29 snaps. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill only played a few snaps against the Jaguars, ending his night with one reception for 32 yards.

Tagovailoa was 4 of 6 for 67 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 104.2 passer rating.

For the preseason Tagovailoa was 9 of 13 for 128 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Hill ends his preseason with two receptions for 45 yards.

Both seem ready for the regular season.

Connor Williams uncorks another bad snap

Center Connor Williams had two bad snaps last week against Houston, including one that almost resulted in a safety. He had another bad snap Saturday, whizzing the ball over Tagovailoa’s head and causing an 11-yard loss on the fumble recovery and setting up a second-and-35 from the Dolphins’ 32-yard line. Miami ended up punting.

Apple opens in boundary in nickel

Cornerback Eli Apple appears to have won the starting boundary cornerback job in the nickel package, beating out Noah Igbinoghene. The Dolphins defense opened in the nickel with Apple and Xavien Howard as boundary (outside) cornerbacks and Kader Kohou in the slot.

Rookie cornerback Cam Smith is also a candidate for Apple’s starting job but Smith has been slowed by a shoulder injury.

Interestingly, cornerback Ethan Bonner, the undrafted rookie from Stanford, appears to be a top candidate to start in the dime package alongside Howard, Apple, Kohou, Holland and Elliott. Bonner has been injured for much of training camp.

Red-zone target (still) wanted

The Dolphins continue to search for a reliable red-zone receiving target.

Miami capped an 11-play, 74-yard drive with a 24-yard field goal by kicker Jason Sanders (he also had a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter), but that was after an incomplete pass over the middle on third down from Tagovailoa to wide receiver Robbie Chosen was broken up by cornerback Tre Herndon.

Tagovailoa’s pass was high and perhaps a bigger-bodied receiver might have been able to use his girth to shield the defender.

Defense makes clutch play, but gives up TDs

Safety Jevon Holland caused and recovered fumble in the first quarter when he took the ball from running back Tank Bigsby near the goal line, but that didn’t stop the Jaguars offense from rolling downfield again on its second possession, this time getting the touchdown, and going an easy 20 yards for a touchdown on their third possession. 

The Jaguars had driven down field almost at will on their first possession when Holland caused the fumble.

Jacksonville drove 80 yards in 12 plays on its second possession, capping the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Travis Etienne.

The Jaguars’ third possession started with an interception on Thompson and resulted in a 37-yard field goal by kicker Brandon McManus for a 10-3 Jaguars lead.

Jacksonville’s second touchdown capped a two-play, 20-yard drive and came on an 8-yard run by running back D’Ernest Johnson.

Second-team OL

The Dolphins used their second-team offensive line in the second quarter (well, second-team center and tackles) and it included center Dan Feeney, left guard Isaiah Wynn, right guard Robert Hunt, left tackle Kion Smith and right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi.

The starting offensive line was what they’ve used throughout training camp, which is Williams at center, Hunt at right guard, Austin Jackson at right tackle, Wynn at left guard and Kendall Lamm at left tackle.

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