The Miami Dolphins' offense is full of questions. Tight end Dustin Keller looked like an answer until Saturday night.
Keller's gruesome right knee injury stood out among all the storylines Saturday night, including the improved connection between Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and free-agent prize Mike Wallace. Keller was the offseason pickup who most consistently showed chemistry with Tannehill. The former New York Jet looked like a decent bet to lead the Dolphins in catches, finally filling their need for a receiving tight end.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin did not give details about Keller's injury after the game, but the film doesn't lie. It doesn't look good. Third receiver Brandon Gibson and tight end backups Charles Clay, Michael Egnew, and Dion Sims will be asked to step up.
UPDATE: NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday, via a person informed of the injury, that Keller's season is in fact over because of the knee injury.
Here's what else we learned during Saturday's six preseason games:
- The good news for the Dolphins: Wallace woke up. After a discouraging training camp, he caught three passes for 58 yards and one touchdown on one scoring drive. Tannehill enjoyed a nice night overall, leading Miami to two touchdowns on five drives.
- Eddie Lacy is the truth. The second-round draft pick was a tackle-breaking machine, shucking defenders, lowering his pads and even showcasing a nifty spin move after the catch. The performance did not escape coach Mike McCarthy's notice. One NFL executive told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he hasn't seen a running back like that in Green Bay since Ahman Green. As much as McCarthy adores DuJuan Harris, he won't be able to keep Lacy off the field.
- James Starks played behind Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and Alex Green. Starks didn't enter the game until late in the third quarter and was yanked after a fumble. Green appeared to have more burst than last season. One of the two could find himself on the trade block, with Lacy and Harris as the top two backs on the Packers' depth chart.
- The connection between Aaron Rodgers and Jermichael Finley is stronger this year than last. Finley had a 25-yard reception and a 33-yard catch-and-run on his way to 78 yards on four receptions. With Greg Jennings out of the picture and Jordy Nelson easing into the regular season, don't be surprised if Finley comes through with a career year in a contract push.
- The Rams started Isaiah Pead at running back because they wanted to give him a long look and increase his confidence. The move failed to pay off, thanks to an offensive line that opened few holes all night. It wasn't all bad for Pead, but he didn't show enough to threaten Daryl Richardson for the No. 1 job.
- Jared Cook has been Sam Bradford's go-to receiver in training camp, but he has been targeted just one time in two preseason games. Perhaps offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is simply going vanilla on offense as not to give away his plans.
- The Seahawks might have their Percy Harvin replacement. Jermaine Kearse was flat-out flying on a 107-yard kickoff return. That was his second touchdown, having reeled in a 12-yard scoring pass while playing with the first-team offense. ESPN analyst Louis Riddick has compared Kearse to Victor Cruz on the heels of a strong training camp.
- With Harvin sidelined and Sidney Rice resting, Golden Tate continues to look like a prime breakout candidate as Russell Wilson's favorite target.
- Joel Dreessen might never get his job back from Julius Thomas, who was Peyton Manning's leading receiver for the second consecutive week. Thomas, a former college basketball player, still is trying to master the fundamentals of the tight end position, but he's already an unfair weapon in a loaded Broncos aerial attack.
- While Manning's passing game was running on all cylinders, the backfield showed problematic signs. Ronnie Hillman saw the bulk of the first-team work, but he was pulled from the game after a goal-line fumble. Meanwhile, rookie Montee Ball whiffed on a pass block, leading to big hit on Peyton Manning. These are troubling signs in a Manning-centric offense where the tailback's primary responsibilities are ball security and protecting the quarterback.
- Blaine Gabbert all but won the Jaguars' starting quarterback job with a strong outing. He left with a thumb injury, but it looks minor. Jacksonville played a hurry-up style with a lot of short passes, which plays to Gabbert's strengths from college. Chad Henne struggled again with just 30 yards passing and an interception on 10 attempts.
- Rookie wide receiver Ace Sanders continues to make an impact for the Jaguars. He'll have a big role to start the season.
- Maurice Jones-Drew only had a few touches before leaving. He looked slow going down the sideline for a 20-yard catch, but it's not a concern at this stage.
- Mark Sanchez played just well enough to fool the Jets into thinking progress was made. (And just poorly enough to keep Geno Smith alive in the QB battle.) Look for Smith to start in next week's preseason game if he's healthy.
- Jets running back Chris Ivory didn't make much of an impact in a supporting role behind Bilal Powell.
- It was bizarre to see passes thrown at Larry Fitzgerald's chest instead of over his head and at his feet. Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer hooked up four times for 68 yards on one drive, only to have a 24-yard catch nullified by penalty. Palmer had plenty of time to throw, but he wasn't always on the same page with his receivers. Andre Roberts -- not Michael Floyd -- appears to be the second option in the Cardinals' passing game.
- Rashard Mendenhall showed some juice on his seven carries for 32 yards after missing time with patellar tendinitis. Cardinals announcer Ron Wolfley noted that both offensive and defensive coaches have talked about Mendenhall being "head and shoulders" above the rest of the running backs on the roster.
- For the second consecutive week, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant looked like the most dominant player on the field.
- Lance Dunbar has been a "nightmare" for defenders in Cowboys training camp. He put more distance between himself and fifth-round rookie Joseph Randle with 63 yards on three touches Saturday.
- Tight end Gavin Escobar, a second-round draft pick, finally showed up for the Cowboys, but he's not close to playing with the first-team offense. Wide receiver Terrance Williams, a third-round pick, missed out on a touchdown of 50-plus yards when he ran the wrong route and Tony Romo overthrew him.
- Giovani Bernard and Mohamed Sanu carried the Bengals' first-team offense with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and A.J. Green resting. Both players looked spry after the catch, and Sanu continues to show a knack for making tough catches in tight end-zone spaces. Whereas the Falcons played to Steven Jackson's strengths by running him up the middle Thursday, the Bengals allowed Bernard to showcase his lateral agility and quick cutting by sending him off tackle.
- It's already evident that rookie Tyler Eifert is the Bengals' pass-catching tight end while Jermaine Gresham is concentrating on becoming one of the league's best blockers at the position.
- Titans quarterback Jake Locker led two good drives and showed better form than in the preseason opener. Locker had a nice rapport going with Kendall Wright until the wide receiver left with a knee injury. Kenny Britt made a surprising appearance after missing a few practices with soreness in his surgically repaired knee.