7:30 PM EDT
August 10, 2012
NFL Preseason Preview - Tampa Bay (0-0) at Miami (0-0) (ET)
By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins convene at Sun Life Stadium for their annual preseason clash, both participants will be unveiling drastically different looks.
For one, the two Florida representatives will have brand new head coaches roaming the sidelines, with the Dolphins tabbing former Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to oversee their latest rebuilding project and ex- Rutgers program architect Greg Schiano now the man in charge for the revamped Buccaneers.
Miami also may or may not have a different quarterback directing Philbin's offense, as a wide-open three-man competition for the starting position is set to get underway when the team takes the field for its 2012 preseason opener.
Matt Moore had loomed as the top contender for the job at the beginning of the offseason after putting together a solid 12-start performance for the Tony Sparano regime last year, but there have been indications that he's been overtaken by free-agent pickup David Garrard as the front-runner. The 34-year- old Garrard, a 76-game starter for Jacksonville from 2002-10 who sat out all of last season with a back injury, has by all accounts put together a strong camp and was listed atop the Dolphins' depth chart heading into Friday's contest.
Also squarely in the mix is rookie Ryan Tannehill, Miami's first-round selection in April's draft who played under new offensive coordinator Mike Sherman as a collegian at Texas A&M. The talented youngster impressed by going 8-for-10 for 77 yards in Saturday's team scrimmage, and could make one of the two veterans expendable if he proves ready for at least a backup role.
Philbin hasn't announced which quarterback will start against the Bucs, though it's believed Garrard will get the initial nod. Either way, all three are slated to get an opportunity to state their case.
There's also a very interesting battle going on for the right to replace Brandon Marshall, traded by the Dolphins to Chicago in the offseason, as the No. 1 receiver. That cast of candidates is headlined by six-time Pro Bowler Chad Johnson, with Miami signing the colorful 34-year-old in June shortly after his release by New England following a disappointing one-year stint with the Patriots.
Returnee Brian Hartline and offseason addition Legedu Naanee are also vying for that spot, though Hartline hasn't been able to demonstrate his skills due to a calf strain that will likely keep him out of the opener.
Tampa Bay enters the preseason with a renewed optimism despite a dreadful 4-12 campaign that ended with 10 consecutive losses and triggered the dismissal of head coach Raheem Morris. The Buccaneers were one of the biggest spenders in free agency during the offseason, landing three instant starters in big-play wide receiver Vincent Jackson, All-Pro left guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright.
An influx of talent was also brought in through the draft, with first-round pick Mark Barron and second-rounder Lavonte David projected to begin their careers as starters at strong safety and weakside linebacker, respectively. Another first-round choice, running back Doug Martin, is viewed as the favorite to take over lead duties from returning top rusher LeGarrette Blount in the most notable battle of Schiano's first camp.
Jackson and Nicks will be making their official Tampa debuts as members of the first-team offense, but Wright is a bit of a question mark after recently being hampered by a bout of back spasms. His counterpart at cornerback, Aqib Talib, may also be held out of Friday's tilt after tweaking his hamstring in a club scrimmage over the weekend, while left tackle Donald Penn (calf strain) and wide receiver Arrelious Benn (knee) are certain to be inactive.
Miami has a 16-10 advantage in the overall preseason series between these in- state foes and had won two straight meetings in the set before the Buccaneers posted a 17-13 victory in Tampa last August.