Jay Cutler to start at QB for Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens.At this point, it looks like Sam Young will step in for James and play next to Bushrod. Jake Brendel, a third stringer last year, is in line to start at center with Anthony Steen at left guard and Laremy Tunsil resuming his spot at left tackle. Brendel and Steen could swap, and Kraig Urbik might play one of those spots as well depending on how healthy his back is.
Gameday: Thursday, August 17, 2017
Kickoff Time: 7:00 PM ET
TV Channel: n/a
Location: Hard Rock Stadium
Cutler has been the presumed starter since the day he arrived and has been running the first-string offense all week. He sat out of last week’s preseason opener, but coach Adam Gase is ready to throw him into live action.
“I think right now everything looks like Jay’s going to go,” he said.
That means it’s time for Cutler to show that he’s caught up to teammates that went through the full offseason program. The expiration date on any excuses about him just getting here have expired.
Matt Moore started last week and stayed in for one series, a three-and-out that included one pass attempt, and Gase is looking for a longer run from Cutler and the starters Thursday. He didn’t specify whether they’d play a full quarter but said he wanted them out there a little longer to “see if we can get something going.”
The challenge for getting Cutler ready is primarily his feel for the speed of the game, the perils of dropping back in the pocket and his overall conditioning. What the Dolphins don’t want is to risk putting him in a situation with live hitting and have him be a little rusty in his awareness.
When it comes to timing with his receivers, it’s important to note that not a single skill player on this team has ever taken a snap with him. All three starting receivers should be available, but it’s uncertain whether Julius Thomas and Jay Ajayi will play. Thomas has been fighting through a back problem, and Ajayi was just cleared from the concussion he suffered July 31.
As far as his cardiovascular endurance, which he joked about in his introductory press conference, it’s unlikely anyone will get a read on that Thursday. He’s not much of a runner anyway, and surely the Dolphins don’t want him scrambling for a first down in a preseason game.
Gase has been adamant from the onset that Cutler has mastered the offense, which is basically the same one they ran together in Chicago in 2015. The biggest difference from that playbook to Miami’s current one is in the ground game, and Cutler has put in extra hours going over that with quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree.
“Just being behind some of these guys and missing most of training camp, missing OTAs, I think it’s important for me to get some valuable reps out there, feel good and get some positive stuff on tape with some of these guys,” Cutler said.
He felt comfortable with playing in Thursday’s game but was waiting for Gase to make the call. He also mentioned the offensive line’s health might play a role in the decision.
Last week, right guard Jermon Bushrod was the only projected starter to play. The Dolphins are still missing right tackle Ja’Wuan James, and Mike Pouncey remains limited as the team eases him through a maintenance program.