NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jake Rudock passed for 229 yards and one touchdown, and the Miami Dolphins defeated the New Orleans Saints 16-13 on Thursday night to close out the preseason for both clubs.
Emmanuel Butler caught a 12-yard touchdown pass for New Orleans, demonstrating why Saints coaches appear to be preparing the 6-foot-4 undrafted rookie out of Northern Arizona for a regular role in the passing game. Butler’s score came on a pass down the right side from backup Teddy Bridgewater, who started the game while 40-year-old record-setting quarterback Drew Brees rested.
Veteran running back Jacquizz Rodgers, signed after training camp started, scored a touchdown to highlight his 33 yards on seven carries. He also caught a pass for 9 yards in his effort to latch on as a reserve behind Alvin Kamara.
The Dolphins announced after the game that Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1.
Miami coach Brian Flores kept Rudock in the whole game, and the third-stringer responded by completing 22 of 29 passes without a turnover. He led Miami on four scoring drives, three of which concluded with field goals by Jason Sanders.
Tight end Chris Myarick, an undrafted free agent out of Temple, made six catches for 78 yards, including a 30-yard grab down the middle. That set up short TD pass from Rudock to Reese Horn, a 26-year-old former AAF player whose only other NFL experience came in the 2016 preseason with Tennessee, which had signed him as an undrafted rookie out of Division II Indianapolis.
Bridgewater played in only the first half, completing 9 of 13 passes for 83 yards, including a 43-yard strike deep down the middle of the field to undrafted rookie Lil’Jordan Humphrey.
Taysom Hill was 13 of 17 for 100 yards and rushed for 35 yards, leading one TD drive and moving the Saints within range of a tying field goal in the final minute.
Apparently wishing to avoid overtime, Saints coach Sean Payton kept the offense on the field on fourth down, and Hill’s final pass, intended for former LSU receiver Travin Dural in the back of the end zone, was batted down by safety Maurice Smith.
Although veteran return specialist Marcus Sherels returned to practice this week, he didn’t play at all during the preseason after being sidelined with an undisclosed injury for much of August.
While the Saints brought in Sherels as a free agent this past offseason to compete for an open job, Payton has spoken glowingly recently about Deonte Harris, an undrafted rookie out of Division II Assumption who returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown against the New York Jets in the third preseason game.
Flores took a good look at a pair of young running backs vying for a roster spot. Mark Walton, a 2018 Bengals fourth-round draft choice who was cut by Cincinnati after multiple arrests, carried 12 times for 52 yards. Myles Gaskin, a 2019 seventh-rounder out of Washington, carried eight times for 48 yards.
The Saints had a pair of veteran defenders — recently acquired linebacker Will Compton and defensive back Patrick Robinson — go down in the first half. Both players were able to walk to the sideline, albeit gingerly, after being examined by trainers on the field. The Saints did not provide specifics on either player’s condition.
Miami opens its regular season on Sunday, Sept. 8 at home against Baltimore.
New Orleans starts the regular season at home on Monday night, Sept. 9, against Houston.