Do you smell that? The freshly trimmed gridiron grass. The smokey scent of tailgate grills. Oh yeah, football is here! And it's about damn time.
Now that we got that out of our systems, let's talk Miami Dolphins football. Sunday, 1PM Eastern, the Fins take on the Cleveland Browns. We finally have a chance to see what this team is all about.
Can they match the offseason hype they generated? New pieces, new uniforms, new beginning; now they need to make it work. When that whistle blows and that crowd roars for the opening kickoff, it will be proving time.
Especially for a few key Dolphins. Here are five players to watch on Sunday afternoon:
#1 Ryan Tannehill
The Browns were ranked 25th in pass defense last season and did not significantly upgrade their secondary. Joe Haden is the only legitimate DB threat for Cleveland. With that said, Tannehill should have a solid chance at executing his air attack Sunday afternoon. With Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson added to his arsenal, there's only room for growth.
#2 Dannell Elbe
Cleveland has a solid offensive line highlighted by Left Tackle Joe Thomas. One analyst listed them as 6th best in the NFL, which should make for a nice challenge for Ellerbe. Makes it a little easier knowing that Cameron Wake, Randy Starks, Paul Soliai and Dion Jordan are on your side.
#3 Brent Grimes
The Browns will be without their lead receiver last season, Josh Gordon. But Greg Little and Davone Bess are not brush offs and will test Miami's pass defense. Regardless, Grimes is poised to build upon his preseason success, which was highlighted by an interception against the Houston Texans.
#4 John Jerry
The Browns are shifting from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense this season, which means one less defensive player on the line. However, Cleveland's D-Line is considered to be one of their strong suits. Jerry will need to hold the fort against quick, versatile lineman. If he can't do his job, recently signed Danny Watkins will be waiting to replace him.
#5 Caleb Sturgis
Yes, the kicker. Who cares about kickers anyway? Wait 'til they miss a field goal and then you'll care. Sturgis is known for his booming kicks and prolific college career at the University of Florida. Plus, his ridiculous 72 yard field goal is pretty popular on YouTube.
But that's not why you should watch him this Sunday. Watch him for the simple fact that he is a rookie kicker that's replacing Dan Carpenter. Sure, Carpenter was on the decline but it's still impressive to for a first year player to beat out a veteran. Dol-Fans hope to see Sturgis only in extra point conversions, but should feel confident in him nailing a few 40+ yarders if need be.