Miami Dolphins vs. Chicago Bears Preseason Week 1 Preview: The Journey Begins

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(Chicago, IL) — The 2015-16 NFL season is underway at last as the Miami Dolphins will travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Bears during Week 1 of the preseason. The contest, which is scheduled to kick off shortly after 8:00 pm ET on Thursday night, will be broadcast live locally on CBS4 Miami.

Although it’s just the opening game of the preseason, there are still many thing to watch for out on the field despite the game not affecting the regular season standings. The Dolphins and Bears, who are in separate conferences, recently clashed last season during Miami’s 27-14 road victory over Chicago in Week 7.

Assuming Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin keeps to his word, the starting offense and defense will play only one quarter at the very most. However, coach Philbin said last week that he expects a high amount of competition for starting spots at offensive guard, linebacker and cornerback.

Third-year guard Dallas Thomas and second-year guard Billy Turner, who are currently slated on the team’s recent depth chart to start at left guard and right guard respectively, are going to be watched by the coaching staff under a microscope during the preseason due to the Dolphins’ skepticism at the guard position. Their starting spots are far from safe, as rookie guard Jamil Douglas out of Arizona State University and six-year veteran Jeff Linkenbach are fully expected to push Thomas and Turner.

“Everyone has things to work on,” said Turner, who struggled from his right guard spot last Friday night during the team’s intrasquad scrimmage. “As the scrimmage went on, I got better and better.”

As for cornerback, 2013 second-round draft pick Jamar Taylor will have the daunting task of starting on the opposite side of three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes, who was a second-team All-Pro last season. Taylor should be salivating at this matchup with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who continues to be a turnover machine since being acquired by Chicago prior to the 2009 season.

“I’ve always felt like I could do it since they drafted me,” Taylor said. “When I was in college I felt like I could do it. That’s never changed. My mindset has never changed.”

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who must prove he is worth the massive six-year, $95 million contract extension he received in May, is very excited to see what his new corps of receivers and tight ends are capable of. With the departure of receivers Mike Wallace (Minnesota Vikings), Brandon Gibson (New England Patriots), Brian Hartline (Cleveland Browns) as well as tight end Charles Clay (Buffalo Bills), the Dolphins re-amped their aerial attack for the 2015 season.

Tannehill, who ranked fifth in the NFL in 2014 in completion percentage (66.4%), racked up 4,045 passing yards to go along with 27 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions last season. However, he was sacked a whopping 46 times in 2014, third most in the NFL.

To compensate for all the departures, Miami drafted standout University of Louisville wideout DeVante Parker with the 14th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, making him an excellent compliment to 2014 second-round pick Jarvis Landry out of Louisiana State University. Landry, who played alongside fellow 2014 standout Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants in college, had 84 catches for 758 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie season with the Dolphins.

“I think that our receivers are doing a great job of adjusting to the football, coming down and making plays on it when it’s in the air,” said Tannehill on his chemistry with the Dolphins wideouts. “So I’m excited about that potential we have.”

According to the Dolphins’ injury report, linebacker Koa Misi (calf), wideout Kenny Stills (calf), rookie running back Jay Ajayi (hamstring) and wideout Christion Jones (hamstring) are all doubtful to play in Thursday night’s game against the Bears.

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Andrew Salmi is a recent graduate from California State University, Fullerton after he previously attended Arizona State University. He is a diehard NFL fan and proud to be an editor and staff writer for Dolphin Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewsalmi.