September 16, 2016

Mario Williams expected to play at New England

Defensive end Mario Williams, nursing a concussion earlier this week, is expected to play Sunday against the New England Patriots.

Williams has been cleared for onfield activities and to play following his latest exam within the NFL concussion protocol, according to an NFL source.

Williams was on the field during the portion of practice open to the media Friday afternoon. 

Assuming Williams suffers no setback in this practice or anytime before Sunday's game,and passes one final test Saturday, the Dolphins will have one of their most effective defensive lineman from Week One on the field against the New England Patriots.

Williams had a sack in 45 snaps before he suffered the concussion last week at Seattle. The Dolphins have made no secret of the fact when Williams left the game, the Miami defense lost something. It was after Williams left the game that the Seahawks were able to engineer their game-winning drive.

Receiver DeVante Parker, who has been limited with a hamstring injury this week, practiced again Friday at least on a limited basis. He is expected play Sunday.

reported earlier today center Mike Pouncey is not play Sunday ... or possibly for a while longer. 

 

Mike Pouncey not playing against New England

The Miami Dolphins will unveil their final injury report of the week Friday afternoon and the expectation is the team will announce center Mike Pouncey is out for Sunday's game at New England.

Even if the Dolphins don't designate Pouncey as out it doesn't matter. He's not playing Sunday.

Pouncey has been out since Aug. 19 when he suffered a hip injury the team has diagnosed as a fracture. That was not the initial diagnosis of the injury internally, however, and that led coach Adam Gase to say Pouncey's status for the season-opener at Seattle was merely uncertain.

That would have given Pouncey only three-and-one-half weeks to recover from the injury, which obviously was not possible.

Gase has since started saying Pouncey  is "week to week" when asked about the player's prognosis.

The more likely timetable for Pouncey's return would be the week of Oct. 1 which means he would normally miss Sunday and one more game -- the Sept. 25 home opener against Cleveland. The problem is the Dolphins play a Thursday night game four days later, on Sept 29, rather than on Sunday, Oct. 1.

The team might decide that's not enough time to get Pouncey up to speed on his football conditioning after one week or less of practice.

So it is possible the timing of the recovery plus Miami's schedule could cause Pouncey to miss two and possibly three more games and not make his 2016 debut until the Oct. 9 game against the Tennessee Titans. 

September 15, 2016

Brandon Doughty clears waivers; headed to Dolphins practice squad

Coach Adam Gase got all under cover and secretive Thursday when he was asked who the team's No. 3 quarterback would be Sunday at New England seeing as that Brandon Doughty was cut the day before.

“We have a plan. We had one last week," Gase said. "I don’t have to tell you guys that one. But, I mean we’ve been working on it since training camp. You guys just didn’t notice."

Fine, I guess I shouldn't tell you tight end Marqueis Gray was the Minnesota Golden Gophers starting quarterback in 2011. I shouldn't tell you Tony Lippett was a high school QB. And I shouldn't tell you Jarvis Landry messed around taking snaps from center during camp.

Anyway, the Dolphins have a plan for Sunday but during the week they will have three quarterbacks on the practice field again because Doughty slipped through waivers unclaimed. And the team has re-signed him to the practice squad, per an NFL source.

This is good because that means the Dolphins continue to have Doughty in the system and learning and improving (hopefully) with some idea that at the time being no other team is looking to pick the rookie up.

Coordinators Thursday: Ajayi fall from grace; the future for Donald Butler; Cam Wake dilemma

The clearest sign that running back Jay Ajayi has fallen from grace?

On Wednesday the Miami Dolphins practiced but starting running back Arian Foster did not participate while nursing a hamstring injury. So did the Dolphins give Ajayi the starter's reps in practice?

No.

Ajayi, who was the team's starting running back throughout the offseason and even through much of training camp, has fallen so far that he was not the guy getting the starter's reps.

"He was not," offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. "Those guys will compete. Pead got some snaps yesterday. They all got some snaps yesterday. I don't know what will shake out at the end of this week. A lot will depend on health and performance."

So here we are with Ajayi fighting Isaiah Pead and Damien Williams for snaps in a practice that Arian Foster doesn't participate. That's, I guess, what happens when you do something that gets you left behind on a season-opening road trip.

Christensen said not having Ajayi against the Seahawks "wasn't much of a factor."

Ouch.

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Donald Butler, signed Tuesday, is "probably not" playing this week for the Dolphins, according to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

But the Dolphins have big plans for Butler once he gets the playbook down.

"Going forward we wanted somebody who could play linebacker," Joseph. "We didn't want to sign a backup linebacker for special teams. We wanted someone to play linebacker for us eventually. As he gets caught up in the playbook, he's going to help us. He's going to play actually "

Joseph said Butler will play the WILL linebacker spot (weakside). That's the position Jelani Jenkins plays. As Jenkins is nursing a knee issue after having surgery two weeks ago, his status for practices and even his snap count for games is something to monitor. 

Joseph said Butler could back up at both weakside or in the middle.

-----

The Dolphins face an interesting dilemma with defensive Cameron Wake.

On the one hand, they want to limit the veteran defensive end so as to make sure he stays healthy for the long season ahead. Wake, you'll recall, is coming back from an Achilles injury last year. 

But on the other hand, Wake continues to be a force as a player, particularly as a pass rusher. So the team must weigh playing a good player in big moments versus keeping him on a tight snap count. Wake played 29 plays or 35 percent of the snaps.

Was there a temptation to play him more?

"Absolutely, absolutely," Joseph said. "Last week it was a little different. Losing Mario [Williams],  Wake played more snaps than he should have played probably and at the end he was a little gassed ... If it's a critical point in the game, Cam's going to be out there. If the game's on the line, Cam's going to be out there."

The Dolphins don't necessarily want to play more. They actually want him to play less -- but only less snaps in base defense or on running downs.

---

I told you yesterday that center Anthony Steen has become a very pleasant surprise for the Miami Dolphins.

So how did he play against the Seahawks?

"The best compliment I could think about him is that I didn't notice him," Christensen said. "And then you watched the game and gosh, the kid played really, really well. But during the game the best compliment was that he was never a factor.

"There was a lot of [identifying the defense], a lot of pressure on him, as much as you can have with good players, hard place, new offense, all those things, not getting the starter snaps in the offseason and the kid played extremely well. He was really a bright spot for the day."

-----

DeVante Parker (hamstring) practiced for the second consecutive day on Thursday and is expected to play on Sunday against New England, barring a setback the next couple of days.

Center Mike Pouncey (hip) and defensive end Mario Williams (concussion) did not practice on Thursday.

September 14, 2016

Path to HOF: Jimmy Johnson, Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas

The 1990s and early 2000s didn't bring the Miami Dolphins any championships but they did bring great moments.

Those moments obviously include the 1996 and '97 draft when then-coach and general manager Jimmy Johnson selected Zach Thomas in the fifth round of the '96 draft and one year later selected Jason Taylor in the third round.

Tonight, all three of those men -- Johnson, Taylor and Thomas -- are among the 94 players and coaches who comprise the list of Modern-Era Nominees for the Hall of Fame Class of 2017.

Johnson, who coached the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl titles and later coached the Dolphins from 1996 to 1999, has been a semifinalist and considered for induction by the 46-member selector's committee each of the past two years. This year the selector's committee will number 48 members, including yours truly.

Thomas, the plucky linebacker from Pampa, Texas, was a hit (literally) from the second he hit the field. Johnson recognized his abilities right away and cut then veteran and current Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio so he could play Thomas.

In his NFL regular-season debut, Thomas hit then New England wide receiver and current Dolphins wide receiver coach Shawn Jefferson so hard, he knocked him out. Thomas went on to be named to the '96 All Rookie team and in his 13 NFL seasons was named to seven Pro Bowls. He finished his career with 1,100 tackles.

Thomas made more tackles than any linebacker currently in the Hall of Fame.

Taylor, who would later marry Zach's sister thus making the two men brothers-in-laws, was considered a project pass rusher when he entered the league. The project didn't take long to take hold and by the time he was finished with his career 14 years later, Taylor had 139.5 sacks, 46 forced fumbles and eight interceptions.

Taylor's sack total is sixth all-time and his six fumble returns for touchdowns is the best mark of any NFL player. Taylor was named to the Pro Bowl six times, was an Associated Press All Pro three times and was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2006.

One time Dolphins Troy Vincent, a first round pick of the team, and Joey Porter, who signed with the team as a free agent in 2007, are also on the list of nominees. 

 

 

Forbes Magazine: Miami Dolphins 12th most valuable franchise; PLUS practice update

Miami Dolphins Stephen Ross is rich. And his NFL team is worth more than twice as much today as when he bought it in 2009.

Ross, who paid $1.1 billion for the Dolphins when he purchased the team and the stadium from H. Wayne Huizenga, has a $2.9 billions -- with a "B" -- property to his name because that is what Forbes Magazine is claiming the Dolphins are worth today.

In its annual issue outlining the worth of professional sports teams, Forbes says the Dolphins are No. 12 among the most valuable franchises.

The Dallas Cowboys continue to lead the pack as they have for years. They're worth $4.2 billion, per Forbes.

The New England Patriots are the valuable franchise in the AFC East and come in at No. 2 overall, worth $3.4 billion.

The New York Jets sit at No. 7 overall and are worth $2.75 billion, per Forbes.

The Buffalo Bills are at No. 32 overall and are worth $1.5 billion.

The magazine says the Dolphins had $359 million in operating revenue in 2015 and $58 million in operating income. The Dolphins rarely comment on the figures except when they're wildly off, so keep an eye out for that. A complaint from the team will signal the figures are off. No complaint will signal they're in the ballpark.

Speaking of in the ballpark, the Dolphins figures will undoubtedly rise for 2016 when the fact the team has just completed much of its outward reconstruction on the stadium is taken into account as well as the approximate $250 million naming rights deal the team struck with Hard Rock International.

As to Ross, his personal wealth is estimated at $7.4 billion, according to Forbes. That ties him with Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke as the second-richest owners in the NFL.

The richest owner?

Seattle's Paul Allen who is worth approximately $19 billion.

All that is off the field. On the field ...

Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (knee), defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (unknown injury) and Mario Williams (concussion) are not practicing today. Wide receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring) is limited in practice. Running back Arian Foster was also absent during the portion of practice open to the media.

On Jenkins, the Dolphins went and got Donald Butler for a reason. He's not ready to start. He really isn't ready to play, having been on the team less than 24 hours. But he can help in a crunch.

Williams is in the concussion protocol but he is in the rehab stage so he's allowed to move around, although not allowed to practice. He will be checked before the end of the week to determine if he can move on to the next step and be cleared to practice and play.

Parker and the Dolphins are going to be coy about the receiver's status for Sunday. The Dolphins are wary about putting him on the field if he's not 100 percent for fear he might re-aggravate the hamstring and have  to miss more time. But they need him. They need a deep threat.

It hurt the team not having him on Sunday against Seattle.

I expect Parker to play against the Patriots. Just a hunch based on what I've heard. 

 

Doughty cut; Chris Jones added; Anthony Steen gives Dolphins options with Pouncey and Albert

The Miami Dolphins are remaking the roster this morning -- as they will throughout the season and events warrant.

The team has waived third-string quarterback Brandon Doughty and re-signed defensive tackle Chris Jones.

Jones, who was waived on the final cut Sept. 3, was a necessary addition because on Tuesday the team placed defensive tackle Earl Mitchell on injured reserve. The Jones addition brings the number of defensive tackles on the Miami roster back up to four -- Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Phillips, Julius Warmsley and Jones.

Jones, you should remember, was playing second-team tackle with Phillips and ahead of Warmsley unti the moment he was waived.

Waiving Doughty is not surprising and, if all goes as the Dolphins plan, not a major issue.

Doughty was the third quarterback on the active roster. If he clears waivers the Dolphins can, and probably will, sign him to their practice squad. So Doughty will be able to continue serving his primary function -- getting better as a rookie while also serving as a serviceable arm in practice.

On another topic ...

You'll recall this morning I told you how well center Anthony Steen played in his regular-season debut against Seattle. Click the link for the details, if you don't know them.

So immediately folks on my Twitter feed started talking about how the Dolphins should trade Mike Pouncey. Yeah, NFL is Not For Long.

And to that I say ... No.

First, Steen had one good game. One.

So perhaps it would be wise to consider a broader body of work before anyone anoints Steen the Dolphins new center for life.

Secondly, having more good players is better than having fewer good players.

So keeping Pouncey and Steen makes sense in that the team would have a fine backup when Pouncey returns to 100 percent health this year. Then after the season, the team can make a determination on what it wants to do relative to Steen.

If Steen continues his current career arch, there's no doubt he's a keeper. He's young. His salary is cheap.

He gives the Dolphins options.

Option One: The team decides after the season that Pouncey, with multiple hip surgeries, is more valuable in trade. Well, someone will surely give something for him and at the same time help take a significant portion of Pouncey's salary off the Miami salary cap.

Option Two: The team after this season will make a decision on Branden Albert. Perhaps he stays. Perhaps the Dolphins decide it is time to move on and replace him with Laremy Tunsil, who was drafted to eventually succeed Albert at left tackle anyway. That leaves the left guard position open. Well, Steen becomes a viable candidate for that spot in this scenario. And Pouncey remains at center in this scenario.

Option Three: The Dolphins are thrilled with their current personnel and keep Albert, keep Pouncey and keep Steen. Then they let the best combination of players win out next training camp. Great problem to have.

Any of the three scenarios seem as likely as any of the others, in my opinion. We don't know because they are so far off in the future.

But this much is certain: Anthony Steen represents excellent work by the Dolphins front office (who found him) and the coaching staff (who is developing him). If he continues to play at his current level or better, he will deserve playing time.

That gives the Dolphins options.  

Anthony Steen so far a treasure picked out of the trash heap

There has been serious concern about Mike Pouncey coming back from the hip injury that cost him half the preseason and the regular-season opener at Seattle. Indeed, it is possible Pouncey, who reportedly is nursing a small fracture to his surgically repaired hip, might miss a week or two more.

That's the bad news.

The good news is no one is panicking because replacement Anthony Steen has been, well, outstanding.

Steen, signed to the Miami practice squad last November when he was basically out of football after being cut by Arizona in September, is a first-year player who made his regular-season debut on Sunday against Seattle. And that debut, coming on the heels of a solid preseason, was very, very good.

How good did Steen play?

Well, if you trust the ProFootballFocus.com metrics, you can say Steen had a better opening day that all but six NFL centers. That's because PFF gave Steen the seventh best grade among 32 centers graded.

Steen's 79.8 grade was better than ...

New York's Nick Mangold.

Carolina's Ryan Kalil.

Dallas's Travis Frederick.

Buffalo's Eric Wood.

Baltimore's Jeremy Zuttah.

And Pittsburgh's Maurkice Pouncey. Among others.

And I just listed some excellent NFL centers.

Steen was better run-blocking than pass-blocking. You can see that on the 2-yard touchdown Ryan Tannehill scored Sunday on a quarterback draw. While left guard Laremy Tunsil and left tackle Branden Albert double-team one man and drive him back, Steen bulldozed Seattle defensive tackle Jarran Reed one-on-one and drove him into the end zone as well.

Ironically Reed was a teammate of Steen's at Alabama a couple of years ago.

Tannehill ran behind Steen into the end zone.

Steen, who moved from guard to center this preseason, received the highest grade of any Dolphins offensive starter on Sunday, per PFF. 

And so what does this mean?

Well, the Dolphins are showing that under Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier and Adam Gase, they want to often use caution about how quickly they put players recovering from injuries back on the field. As in the case with DeVante Parker, for example, the Dolphins would rather hold the player back and make sure he's healthy than expose him to aggravating an injury.

With Pouncey, a leader in the locker room, the temptation might be to push him to get back. But because Steen is so far playing at a high level, the Dolphins can afford to wait until Pouncey is fully recovered before putting him back on the field.

(By the way ... kudos to the Dolphins personnel department for finding Steen and the Miami coaching staff for developing him into a center. This is a feel-good story all around.)

September 13, 2016

Miami Dolphins sign LB Donald Butler, work out four others; Earl Mitchell to IR

The Miami Dolphins wanted a thumper who can play meaningful snaps for them on defense from the linebacker spot. They also wanted to add a seventh linebacker. They've added both today.

The team has signed free agent linebacker Donald Butler.

Butler, one of the top linebackers who came out of the 2010 draft and was picked No. 79 overall by San Diego, signed with Miami after working out for the team Tuesday. He was among multiple linebackers who tried out.

Butler was available after he was released by the Chargers in March 2016 after he played six seasons for that team. He was picked up by the Arizona Cardinals in July and released on the final cut to 53 on Sept. 3.

Butler, 6-1 and 242 pounds, has 238 career tackles, including seven career sacks. He has five forced fumbles and six career recovered fumbles.

Butler is still in his prime at age 27 but obviously his play fell off after December 2014 when he suffered a dislocated elbow. He had been a locker room leader and even team captain for the Chargers and had signed a multi-year contract extension when the team released him.

The Dolphins made room for Butler on the roster by placing defensive tackle Earl Mitchell on injured reserve. Mitchell, nursing a calf injury all preseason, aggravated the injury in the regular-season opener against Seattle. 

The players the Dolphins worked out on Tuesday in addition to Butler were nose tackle Barry Cofield, Linebackers A.J. Hawk and Nate Irving, defensive tackle Cory Johnson and defensive end C.J. Wilson.

Weekly ProFootballFocus.com tape review and grades: Dolphins at Seahawks

There can be no denying the fact the Dolphins had some issues in pass protection against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. The Seahawks had four sacks, and in the 2016 kickoff edition of the ProFootballFocus.com weekly grades on this site, the tape review shows the offensive line allowed three of those sacks, two QB hits, seven hurries and 12 total pressures on only 33 passing snaps.

Not good.

Furthermore the offensive line had a pass-blocking efficiency (a weighted formula that measures hits/hurries/sacks relative to the number of passing snaps) of 70.5 and that was 26th out of 28 teams that played in Week One games through Sunday.

The Dolphins, however, are not worried.

Coach Adam Gase, something of an expert on playing Seattle as Sunday was his fourth game in four years against that team, was not displeased with the pass protection. Yes, there is stuff to clean up, including a blown assignment by rookie first round pick Laremy Tunsil.

But, well, the opponent was Seattle.

 "I think that’s the least I’ve ever had my quarterback hit against those guys," Gase said. "I know they only have eight starters back from the time I played them in the Super Bowl, but, they’ve only gotten better. I think we did a pretty good job.

"There were a couple of busts we had protection-wise that I’m sure all of us would like to clean up. But I thought Ryan (Tannehill) did a good job of getting the ball out. There were a couple of times where he knew we were trying to push the ball down the field a little bit. We were trying to get them off us a little bit. They took away some of our underneath stuff and we were trying to go down the field."

(Salguero insight: The Dolphins realized postgame that the absence of WR DeVante Parker hurt them greatly. Without Parker to threaten Seattle deep, and the pass rush playing well against the Miami front, the Seahawks didn't fear the Dolphins going deep. The Dolphins did get deep that one time on an Earl Thomas bust that left Kenny Stills wide open. But Stills dropped the potential touchdown pass. Lesson? The Dolphins badly need Parker in the lineup.)

The highest graded Dolphins offensive player on Sunday was ... Ryan Tannehill. That's interesting considering he was under pressure on 48.5 percent of his dropbacks — the highest rate for all QBs in Week One through Sunday. 

Despite grading out well overall, Tannehill did not perform well when under pressure, completing only 33 percent of his passes when under pressure.

Ndamukong Suh, who got off to a slow start last year had no such issues this year. He graded out as the fifth best defensive tackle of the week at 82.4 He was equally as effective against the run, ranking seventh in run stop percentage (thee stops on 25 snaps) and rushing the passer, where he ranked fourth in pressure percentage (a metric that measures sack/hit/hurry relative to how many passing snaps they had). Suh had one sack and three hurries on 42 pass rush snaps.

Middle linebacker Kiko Alonso had a solid game. With a grade of 72.2, Alonso was the 23rd out of a possible 65 qualifying linebackers, grading out particularly well in run defense, where his 83.4 grade was fourth best. However, PFT noticed Alonso did struggle in coverage, allowing five receptions on five targets for 53 yards. Of those 53 yards, 41 came after the catch.

TE Jordan Cameron continues to struggle finding a role in the Miami offense. His 42.7 overall grade was 41st out of 46 qualifying tight ends. He was targeted three times and had two catches for six yards and a drop. He dominated the snaps at the position with 48 out of a possible 53, but Dion Sims (14 snaps) might see an uptick in his in the coming weeks if Cameron doesn't start producing more.

Arian Foster dominated the snaps at running back, playing 45 out of a possible 53 snaps after being named the starter. Foster turned in a 55.0 overall grade, which is the 29th out of 46 qualifying running backs, and was 12th overall in receiving at 77.5.

Foster's rushing numbers are not impressive. He gained 38 yards on 13 carries. But he did force three missed tackles.

Safety Reshad Jones followed up a great 2015 campaign with an impressive Week One showing. His PFF.com grade of 83.9 represents the fifth best at the position. He was equally effective in the running game (83.7) as in coverage (83.2), which is a good sign for Miami, because he has typically excelled in the run game and struggled some in coverage over his career.

Even with his outstanding grade, Jones was not Miami's highest-rated safety. That was Isa Abdul-Quddus, who PFF grades at 84.7 overall, giving him the fifth highest grade of all safeties. Abdul-Quddus had a pass coverage of 85.5, which is the highest coverage grade of the 74 safeties PFF graded this week. week. 

The safety combo of Jones and Abdul-Quddus represents the only pair from the same team rated in the Top 10. Adbdul-Quddus is No. 5 and Jones is at No. 9 this week.

September 12, 2016

The difference between being competitors and winners

SEATTLE -- The Miami Dolphins of the past few years would have lost a game like this one against the Seahawks on Sunday by a wide margin.

The 'Hawks have been and continue to be a pretty good team. They were at home, which indeed is among the loudest venues I've ever been to -- dome or otherwise. And Seattle's team speed and discipline and playmaking ability on both offense and defense is simply outstanding.

And against that good Seattle team, the Dolphins were competitive. They competed. They were not only in the game but in a position to win the game. But the problem is the Dolphins lost. And Sunday's 12-10 loss counts every bit as much against the loss column as blowout 31-10 loss.

There is, you see, no payday for competing.

The only payoff a team gets in the NFL is for winning.

And the difference between one and the other is significant.

So are the Dolphins just going to be a competitive team this year or can you hope they will become winners?

Let's look at the signs coming out of the first game:

A competitive team stays close but cannot get over the hump because ...

Kenny Stills drops a touchdown pass.

Jordan Cameron has a key drop and his two catches gain a total of six yards.

Kicker Andrew Franks gets a field goal blocked.

The pass protection gives up four sacks. Not good.

The Dolphins pass rush is frustrating in that its most accomplished rusher -- Cameron Wake -- truly is a part-time player right now. According to the NFL's snap count, Wake played 29 snaps. That's only 35 percent of Sunday's defensive snaps. Tough to be consistently effective with those numbers but the Dolphins are in a tough spot because they want to keep Wake healthy for the duration of the season.

The offense cannot convert on fourth-and-1 at the Seattle 17 yard line and finishes the game 0-for-1 on fourth-down conversions.

The defense finishes the game having yielded two of three fourth-down conversions and both of those come on Seattle's game-winning drive in the final minutes of the game.

The defense gives up points to end the first half and with 31 seconds left in the game.

No running game to speak of. I mean, 64 yards on 20 rushes? Lamar Miller gained more than that for the Houston Texans by halftime on Sunday.

All those things must be addressed or corrected or changed somehow to turn the Dolphins' fortunes around.

And there is another worry that coach Adam Gase articulated in his presser after the game. The Dolphins of yesteryear seemed to lack the fortitude to bounce back game over game. One loss would extend to two and then avalanche from there.

Last year, for example, the Dolphins suffered two two-game losing streaks and two three-game losing streaks. In other words, the team got down and failed to quickly get up off the mat.

Gase told his team after the game this cannot repeat.

“We can’t let one loss become two," Gase said. "We have 24 hours to feel sorry for yourself. Do whatever you want to do but we have to go on to the next opponent. We have to go on the road again. We have to get back to work."

by the way...Below are the official NFL snap count numbers for players on both teams:

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Reaction coming in on Dolphins players' protest on 9-11

SEATTLE -- Hours after four Miami Dolphins players decided to drop to one knee in protest during the national anthem on Sunday, I asked club owner Stephen Ross what he would tell fans not pleased with such political commentary from players they otherwise root for.

Said another way, I asked Ross what he'd tell his season ticket holders.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the organization – all the players included – that want to show any disrespect for this country, for the flag, for the soldiers or anything else. I think they all know (that) as an organization, we’re totally 100 percent behind them. I think today, what has been brought up is a conversation that needs to be had, and I think they’re doing it in their way, and I applaud them. That’s what it’s all about."

Players Arian Foster, Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Jelani Jenkins all echoed those sentiments. They were protesting asking you not to hate them for it.

"I think there is a lot of negativity surrounding this decision, and we are not looking to hurt anyone's feelings, we're not looking to disrespect anyone, that's why we chose to put our hands over our heart, as well. We also stood during President Obama's speech which honored the 9-11 victims. I know there's going to be a lot of negativity around that. Arian (Foster) is going to share the message about that, and we hope that people are going to understand where we're coming from."

And that's all well and good, but people disagreeing with these players are not bringing "negativity." They are bringing their opinion as well and, like the players, they have a right to their opinions.

Those people who disagree run the gamut from the famous to the anonymous. Super model Kate Upton took to Twitter and made it clear to her two million followers she was not a fan of the Dolphins' protest. She also went on her Instagram account and vehemently disagreed with the Dolphins actions on the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

 

In my opinion, the national anthem is a symbolic song about our country. It represents honoring the many brave men and women who sacrifice and have sacrificed their lives each and every single day to protect our freedom. Sitting or kneeling down during the national anthem is a disgrace to those people who have served and currently serve our country. Sitting down during the national anthem on September 11th is even more horrific. Protest all you want and use social media all you want. However, during the nearly two minutes when that song is playing, I believe everyone should put their hands on their heart and be proud of our country for we are all truly blessed. Recent history has shown that it is a place where anyone no matter what race or gender has the potential to become President of the United States. We live in the most special place in the world and should be thankful. After the song is over, I would encourage everyone to please use the podium they have, stand up for their beliefs, and make America a better place. The rebuilding of battery park and the freedom tower demonstrates that amazing things can be done in this country when we work together towards a common goal. It is a shame how quickly we have forgotten this as a society. Today we are more divided then ever before. I could never imagine multiple people sitting down during the national anthem on the September 11th anniversary. The lessons of 911 should teach us that if we come together, the world can be a better and more peaceful place #neverforget.

A photo posted by Kate Upton (@kateupton) on

And while many times citizens that don't make millions and aren't in front of media cameras or microphones have to counter-protest, so to speak, in a vacuum, that doesn't happen today.

A dozen or so Dolphins fans,  including several season ticket members, wrote to me Sunday to voice frustration and dissatisfaction about the Miami protest. Some are upset about the player protests and don't know what steps to take next. Some have decided to stop rooting for the Dolphins.

Some like Greg Gully are making their feelings known to Dolphins ownership. This is a letter from Gully to Ross and his season ticket customer service representative:

"Dear Mr. Ross,

"I am a season ticket holder for the Miami Dolphins. A proud Dolfan since 1968. Born and raised in NYC and recently moved to Southwest Florida. What you need to know is that I was a First Responder on 9-11-01 at WTC site.

"I understand that cancelling my dream season tickets will not be felt by you or the team but how can I in good conscience support a team or league that allows any one person to disrespect the memory of the heroes we lost on 9-11-01? This was my 1st season as a holder and next season I was going to upgrade to the 72 Club seats.

"You should understand how angry and embarrassed I was to witness Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, Jelani Jenkins and Kenny Stills kneel during the National Anthem on the 15th anniversary of 9-11-01. 4 players, no less, that almost were not even on our team this season. I understand it is their right to not stand for the anthem but it is also my right to not contribute my hard earned money to pay their salaries."

This is a difficult situation, friends.

I think you know  my opinion on protesting on 9-11. 

I don't view my opinion as negativity. I simply believe these four Dolphins players made a bad mistake.

September 11, 2016

Kenny Stills on key drop: 'No excuses. Just a drop'

SEATTLE -- The biggest play of Sunday's game between the Dolphins and the Seahawks was a play that wasn't made.

It was a play in which the Dolphins found receiver Kenny Still wide open on what looked like a post. Safety Earl Thomas busted the coverage and Stills was 50 yards down field by himself for an apparent TD.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw the football right in Stills' hands. And ...

Stills dropped it.

"Sometimes you drop the ball," Still said after the game. "No excuses. Just a drop. It was a good ball. I just dropped it. It hurts the team. You want to make those plays. I worked hard all offseason to make those plays. I've got to make them."

 I asked Stills if the sun was in his eyes.

"No," he responded. "Just dropped it."

And obviously it was a big play because the Dolphins lost this game 12-10. Stills makes that play, well... who knows what might have been.

Coach Adam Gase ran a similar play as the Denver offensive coordinator against the Seahawks with success. But when his new team and player did not make the play, he was thinking beyond the drop.

“Obviously if we catch it, it’s a big play," Gase said. "One play does not make a game. The biggest thing that we talked about the entire week was that bad things happen. You have to move on to the next play. My thing was how are we going to respond to this adversity?"

Not great. Not terrible, either.

The Dolphins did get a field goal on their very next possession. Of course, they didn't exactly drive for those points because they came after an Isa Abdul-Quddus interception that gave Miami the ball at the Seattle 42 yard line. The Dolphins advanced the ball 19 yards before Andrew Franks kicked a 41 yard field goal.

The Dolphins defense had one beautiful drive, that in the fourth quarter to take a 10-6 lead. But otherwise the offense was ineffective.

Miami collected only 11 first downs. The Dolphins had 64 rushing yards on 20 carries, which is a 3.2 yard per carry average. The passing game suffered a drop from Jordan Cameron and obviously Stills while Tannehill completed 16 of 29 passes for 186 yards. Tannehill's quarterback rating was 74.8.

The offensive line didn't have a good day. Tannehill was sacked four times.

“We’re playing a really good defense," Gase said. "It’s tough keeping the ball. They did a really good job of taking away a lot of the things that we prepared for. We have to make some adjustments within the game. With these guys it’s a tough game of cat and mouse. They were one step ahead of us early. Some of the things that we had schemed by didn’t have our players in the best position possible. We tried to get through the game and make some adjustments as the game went on."

Seahawks find a way to win, beat Dolphins 12-10

Let's start with the news: Dolphins defensive end Mario Williams has a concussion and is in the NFL's concussion protocol so his status for next week's game at New England is uncertain.

As to the game: The Miami Dolphins thought they had a quarterback and a defense before this day kicked off and you'll forgive their abused and all too often disheartened fans if they had their doubts.

Well, doubt remains. But less about the quarterback than the defense.

At least after today's 12-10 Dolphins loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

On this day the Dolphins came to the Great Northwest and nearly upset the Seattle Seahawks. They held a 10-6 lead until the Seahawks marched for the winning score with 31 seconds left to play.

Disheartening, yes. I know.

It was a kick in the teeth when Russell Wilson culminated the winning 75-yard drive with a 2-yard TD pass to Doug Baldwin. Baldwin beat Bobby McCain for the score.

Until that moment the Dolphins defense had been more than up to the task. Obviously the defense had not allowed a touchdown to that point..

The offense, meanwhile, found its leader in Tannehill. The Dolphins quarterback merely had perhaps his finest career moment in leading an 86-yard drive for what might have been the winning score in the final seven minutes.

Tannehill, looking at a 6-3 deficit, completed 4 of 5 passes for 55 yards and capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.

The score seemingly gave the Dolphins their winning margin. But it did not seal the game. Instead, Russell Wilson matched Tannehill's heroics.

"We just found a way to win," he said. "We made plays when we needed to."

Look, I told you this morning in my column that the Dolphins are team that has to learn to win. The Seahawks are a team that knows how to win.

We saw that this game.

DeVante Parker inactive; Carroo gets a start; the fall of Dallas Thomas; the road for Jay Ajayi

SEATTLE -- We are 90 minutes from game time here and a couple of interesting notes:

DeVante Parker, who has been nursing a hamstring injury, is inactive. This despite the fact he's made significant progress in getting better from the injury in recent days. The Dolphins are hopeful Parker will be ready to play next week at New England.

That mean rookie Leonte Carroo plays today and indeed gets his first NFL start if the Dolphins come out in the three-wide package.

The other inactives are running back Isaiah Pead, quarterback Brandon Doughty, running back Jay Ajayi, center Mike Pouncey, guard Dallas Thomas.

Thomas, the starter at left guard when training camp began, has fallen to inactive for the first game behind reserve Kraig Urbik. The reason Urbik is up over Thomas is the Dolphins are comfortable Urbik can play all three interior offensive line spots, including center, where he is the backup today.

Anthony Steen starts at center for Mike Pouncey. ESPN reported earlier today Pouncey is recovering from a hip fracture and will be having a CT scan Monday. He could miss the next couple of games as well, ESPN reported.

Isaiah Pead, Damien Williams, Kenyan Drake, and Arian Foster are the active running backs today. Ajayi, obviously, is back in South Florida.

Here's the thing on Ajayi, the team is not planning to trade him, or cut him. He is, however, going to be monitored to see how he reacts to being left behind in South Florida. His reaction to being benched as the starter in favor of Foster was not good.

Now Ajayi has to prove he's gotten the message and can be professional about his approach to being on the team. If not, he'll remain inactive.

By the way, there's the idea that Ajayi will find it hard to be active because he doesn't play special teams. While this is an issue, I'm told Ajayi's value as a backup to Foster would merit him being active if his attitude is right.

 

 

Today is about a united America again

Fifteen years ago today a heinous act by Islamic terrorist hijackers succeeded in bringing down the World Trade Center Twin Towers ... but failed in bringing down our country.

The tragic events of that awful day in New York City, and at the Pentagon, and in that otherwise anonymous field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania were meant to bring America to her knees. And sure enough, many Americans did take to their knees -- in prayer -- filling churches across the country.

But that was only one way the attacks failed in their intent.

In the hard days and months after those multiple acts of terrorism, America did not show fear but great courage. Young people answered a call to national service. People of all ages felt a kinship to each other -- as Americans.

Those acts meant to sow division instead brought us closer together as a nation than any time I've seen during my lifetime.

Those murderers, you see, killed white Americans. black Americans. Asian Americans. Hispanic Americans. They killed Christian Americans. Jewish Americans. Muslim Americans, Hindu Americans. Those murders killed in the name of their god some Americans who believed there is no God.

We all felt loss. We all grieved.

And in the aftermath of that attack, in the wake of our shared grief, there was a palpable unity throughout this land. There was suddenly in this troubled and divided country something bigger and more important than ourselves that brought us all together for a short time.

Americans had been attacked. Killed. Murdered.

We didn't delineate. We didn't hyphenate. All of those victims were simply Americans to us.

And suddenly the fabric of a country woven by people from different lands, political parties, colors, ethnicities and religious bents seemed to pull tighter. America was strengthened.

Where has that gone? What happened to that America?

Today is Sept. 11, 2016. It is the anniversary of that fateful, memorable, sad, emotional day. And today the NFL will kick off another season.

And because the NFL is now so much a part of what America is, it suffers violent convulsions to its inner core much the same way the country does. In that regard, the NFL is very much like America. The NFL, our national sport, is uniquely American.

The NFL's most important employees -- its players -- are predominantly black. Yes, there are other races and peoples represented in the NFL ranks, but let us agree black men dominate the NFL on the field if not yet in the board rooms and owners' suites.

And because so many of the league's biggest stars come from a portion of our society that has unquestionably seen violence perpetrated on people that look like them, there is outrage in locker rooms across the NFL as there is outrage in black households across America.

That cannot be diminished. That cannot be dismissed. That is a troubling fact of life in today's America.

So something needs to happen for that needless killing of a people to stop.

I don't have the answer for stopping the killing of some black people at the hands of some police.

The President, who is black, also doesn't have the answer. The Federal Justice Department, headed by a black woman, has not brought one indictment on any officer, deeming every shooting it has so far investigated as lawful so that department also does not have an answer. The black district attorney in Baltimore who failed to get even one conviction of the officers that arrested Freddie Gray on the day he died while in custody obviously does not have the answer.

And, sorry to say it, but it is the truth, no NFL player wearing any uniform today has the answer for solving this obvious issue. And no NFL player is going to fix the problem today.

It.

Simply.

Ain't.

Happening.

Today.

No matter what.

There is nothing any NFL player in or out of uniform today will be able to say or do that will address the issue of some rogue policeman shooting somebody to the point a solution for that problem is found. Can we agree on that?

No amount of protesting today will fix the problem. No amount of speaking about the issue at press conferences afterward games today will fix the problem. No amount of symbolic gestures today will fix this problem.

And yet, somewhere around this league, it is likely that some NFL player will think it incumbent upon himself to make a gesture, or not stand for the national anthem, or make some other personal protest to bring awareness to the issue.

I have news for those who think that way: That will not bring any good awareness to your cause. None. 

Any NFL player using today to protest by somehow disrespecting the flag, the country, his team or some of his fans will be doing the cause he holds dear a disservice.

Why?

I can tell you that the united post-Sept. 11 America of 2001 no longer exists. We are a divided country one again. We are divided on issues of race, politics, religion, abortion, sexuality, gender, you name it. And we are united on the idea that police are systematically targeting black people for elimination or, at the very least, different treatment than whites.

And so I can guarantee any player undertaking a protest today -- on the anniversary of 9-11 -- that your message about violence or oppression or whatever will be drowned out by those that see your protest as disrespect for the flag and the country on a date that marks for so many a day of violence against all Americans.

To those men considering a protest today, I ask you to consider what the Bible says in Ecclesiastes:

"There is a time for everything,

"and a season for every purpose under the heavens;

"a time to be born and a time to die;

"a time to plant and a time to uproot;

"a time to kill and a time to heal;

"a time to tear down and a time to build up;

"a time to weep and a time to laugh;

"a time to mourn and a time to dance;

"a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them;

"a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

"a time to get and a time to lose;

"a time to keep and a time to cast away;

"a time to tear and a time to mend;"

"a time to be silent and a time to speak;

"a time to love and a time to hate;

"a time for war and a time for peace."

Friends, NFL players, everyone, the September 11 anniversary is not a time for internal war. It is not a time to inspire hate. This is not the time to fight. This is not the time to tear down. Your time may come but not today.

This day is not about you.

It is not about your cause, whatever your cause may be -- and this applies to everybody. This day, in my humble opinion, should be about the solemn and sobering rememberance of those who went to work that morning and never came home that evening; ones that got on planes that never landed; those who's lives were violently snuffed out or changed forever.

Acknowledging this, accepting this does not weaken anyone. It doesn't lessen anyone. Indeed, it shows strength to show respect to those who deserve it.

Today is about the Americans who fell on that day 15 years ago -- some of them first responders, sure, but also accountants and secretaries and interns and executives and realtors and civilian government workers. Today is about the victims. Today is about the Americans who served or lost their lives in the years after 9-11 directly because of what happened on 9-11.

Maybe if for one day, albeit 15 years later, we can agree what today should be about we can take the small first step toward addressing our issues and solving our problems. Maybe we can take a step toward becoming that united America again.

September 10, 2016

Don't even THINK about giving up on DeVante Parker

SEATTLE -- DeVante Parker is nursing a hamstring injury (again) and the Dolphins are almost definitely going to err on the side of caution and hold him out of Sunday's regular-season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

Parker, who hasn't been through a full practice in 13 days, is listed as questionable for the game.

"My biggest thought that goes through my head is I want to make sure this is for the duration," Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Friday. "I do not want to have a setback. I do not want to let, basically, one game determine, ‘Does that mean he’s going to miss three more (games)’ if we say, ‘He’s good to go this one,’ but he’s not really?

"We’re going to keep evaluating him. Obviously, he’s trying to get back as fast as possible."

This is smart. Gase is apparently willing to wait another week and let Parker be fully ready to play rather than sending him into a this game less than 100 percent and risk he re-aggravate the hamstring that will put Parker out two or three weeks and games.

Hearing this, some Dolphins fans on both sides of the Mississippi (I recognize the west side today because I'm on the west side of the great river now) think Parker is a lost cause.

My Twitter mentions are freaking.

My email inbox is filling up.

Oh noes, DeVante Parker is a bust!

To which, I advise, stop. Tap brakes. Find patience.

We are talking about the first game of a second-year player's career. We're talking about a player who has proven when he's healthy he can play at a high level in the NFL -- and if you don't believe it, consider the 20-plus yards per catch average from November to January last season. We're talking about a player who is only 23 years old.

Look, I know the Dolphins have their hands full trying to get Parker to be a better professional. But not all young players mature at the same rate. Jarvis Landry isn't much older than Parker but is light years more mature.  

The measure of a good organization and coaching staff is not worrying that your fantasy team got blown up because Parker is still nursing a nagging injury. The measure of a good organization is showing the right amount of patience with their players, especially the ones who don't come along quickly.

I remind you the Dolphins have recently pulled the trigger way too quickly on players because they didn't have enough patience. The team traded away Vontae Davis because he was too immature. How'd that work out?

And while I admit Parker is not the most mature guy in the world, it is not the headache causing maturity issue. He's not out getting in trouble. He's just something of a kid. 

He'll grow out of it. He'll grow up.

Have patience.

September 09, 2016

Pouncey, Ajayi out against Seattle (with update)

The Miami Dolphins are practicing in the great (and beautiful and not humid) Northwest today.

But Dolphins center Mike Pouncey is not. And running back Jay Ajayi is not.

Ajayi did not travel with the Dolphins to Seattle. Coach Adam Gase decided he would not be playing this game so Ajayi is a healthy scratch by coach's decision.

A Dolphins player told The Herald's Adam Beasley that Ayayi, who lost the No. 1 running back job to Arian Foster, was upset the past week. Ajayi obviously did not react well to being the stating running back most of the offseason and training camp and then losing it the last week of the preseason.

Also hurting Ajayi is that he does not play on special teams so he might have been inactive anyway.

This situation is of Ajayi's own doing. He should have gotten a clue that coaches needed to see him succeed when he played a half in the final preseason game. And, unfortunately for him, in a game the coaches wanted to see him succeed, he had a fumble and a dropped pass.

After that game, Gase said he was "disappointed" in Ajayi.

And then he sulks when he loses his job?

Pouncey is out Gase said. He has not practiced the past three weeks while nursing a hip injury and it quite obvious to anyone with eyes he is not playing against the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday.

The Dolphins will release an their final injury report of the week later today. Bith Pouncey and Ajayi will be listed as out.

Another player very unlikely to play is receiver DeVante Parker. He practiced in a very limited basis Friday but he is also unlikely to play.

One piece of positive injury news for the Dolphins: Linebacker Jelani Jenkins seems certain to play barring a setback with his surgically repaired knee.

Jenkins may not yet be ready to handle a full load of snaps but he will be available.

[Update: The Dolphins list six players as questionable on the injury report and both Pouncey and Ajayi as out. Questionable are Parker, Jenkins, Terrence Fede (knee),  Earl Mitchell (calf), Laremy Tunsil (knee) and Isaiah Pead (hamstring) who practiced full. Amazingly, Pead might be active for this game and Jay Ajayi will not.]

September 08, 2016

Travel day for the Miami Dolphins so let's pick the NFL standings

Today is a travel day for the Miami Dolphins. The team actually studied the results of other teams flying from the east coast to the west coast of this awesome country -- even ones in other sports -- to see how to optimize their travel plans.

So the team is flying today and practicing in Seattle Friday.

"With this being the first game of the year, we were actually able to do it," Gase said. "We felt like if we could get out there a day earlier than what we normally would do, we felt like we had a chance to get our guys out there and practice but we could use that Thursday as a travel day.

"We were able to do just a short meeting on Thursday, jump on the plane (and) get there. We’re going to do one thing to where we can kind of get guys just moving around a little bit, then practice Friday and then Saturday do our walkthrough. We just wanted to give our guys the best chance they could to feel as good as they could heading into Sunday.

So there is no morning practice update today, no injury report until later this evening, no major news to share, no media availability. And I'm just about plum out of opinions, too.

Except ...

It's time for the annual Salguero-screws-up-his-annual-NFL-predications post.

I know the records below won't add up because, Miami-Dade County Public School mathematics classes. But you should have a solid idea what I think is about to happen this NFL season, which, by the way, begins this evening!

Here we go ....

AFC East

1. New England  10-6  Tom Brady and the pass rush are missing. Brady returns after four games; the pass rush does not.

2. New York 9-7         Great defensive front and solid (yet aging) receivers. But no way Ryan Fitzpatrick matches 2015's career year.

3. Miami     8-8          Best case scenario is Adam Gase fixes Ryan Tannehill and the future brightens. But the future is not now.  

4. Buffalo   6-10        Their training camp featured one drama after another and that's a bad omen. LeSean McCoy is awesome though. 

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh  12-4    They have the best offense in the NFL once Le'Veon Bell returns from suspension.

2. Cincinnati  11-5    Solid talent up and down the roster.

3. Baltimore   8-8     This team is starting to get a little long in the tooth.

4. Cleveland  3-13     RG3 was a nice preseason story. The preseason is over.

AFC South

1. Houston     9-7     The best of the worst division in the NFL. J.J. Watt is not human. Just isn't.

2. Indianapolis 7-9   Perhaps the worst offensive line in the NFL. You know who coaches that offensive line?

3. Jacksonville 7-9   I love Blake Bortles. This team is a year away from being really good.

4. Tennessee 6-10   Solid along the lines of scrimmage; All the playmakers not named Marcus Mariota are unspectacular.   

AFC West

1. Kansas City  11-5   They're well coached, don't make mistakes on offense and play solid defense.

2. Denver   9-7          Forgive me for not buying a Super Bowl repeat with Trevor Siemian at QB.

3. Oakland  7-9        Solid (which is better than it used to be) but still not quite ready to contend.

4. San Diego 6-10      They'll look good until their annual rash of injuries will waste another Phillip Rivers season.

NFC East

1. Washington  11-5  They found something on offense late last year and the defense is coming on.

2. Dallas  9-7            I was ready to pick the Cowboys to win the division until Tony Romo broke his back.

3. NY Giants  8-8      Giants must think you can build through free agency. They also think their OL is good. Wrong on both.

4. Philadelphia  4-12  Yeah, the Eagles proved this year they care more about future years.

NFC North

1. Green Bay   12-4    So, they have the best QB in the NFL on any given Sunday. Good enough.

2. Minnesota   10-6    I like Sam Bradford a whole lot more than the experts. Ignorance is bliss.

3. Detroit        7-9     Team reflects its city. Suh left. Johnson left. Buzz is gone. Best days in the rear view.

4. Chicago       6-10    John Fox really, really knows how to coach. But he doesn't play. Team needs more players.

NFC South

1. Carolina     12-4    Yes, they take a step back from 15-1. But this team is headed to the playoffs even with 2 rookie CBs.

2. Tampa Bay  9-7     Offense is really, really nice. Defense is really, really not. Who you blaming then, Miko?   

3. New Orleans  6-10 Sean Payton is an elite coach but he no longer has an elite roster. Rebuilding.

4. Atlanta        6-10   Dan Quinn would like to run the Seattle defense but he doesn't have Seattle talent. 

NFC West

1. Seattle   13-3          Pete Carroll kept 15 rookies on his roster so this team has experience and hungry young blood.

2. Arizona   9-7           Yeah, that whipping the Panthers put on them in the playoffs isn't going to wear off soon enough.

3. Los Angeles  6-10     Hollywood is used to big-money blockbusters that fizzle.

4. San Francisco  5-11  Their starting QB is Blaine Gabbert and his backup is such a driveling idiot he wore a Fidel Castro T-shirt on the day he was trying to make a statement against "oppression."

 

September 07, 2016

Linebacker Jelani Jenkins to try to practice today

Dolphins coach Adam Gase said earlier this week that linebacker Jelani Jenkins was on a good track to play in the regular-season opener at Seattle on Sunday and today the team hopes to see the most significant sign of that.

Jenkins will be working on the field for the first time since he had a "clean out" surgery. It won't be known until later to what degree Jenkins will be practicing. (My educated guess is he'll be limited). But after missing the past two weeks, the fact he's on the field at all is a good sign.

Team trainers will monitor how well Jenkins holds up during today's activities and if he experiences soreness, swelling or pain the next 24 hours. The practice will also measure how much strength the linebacker has regained in the surgically repaired knee.

"The fact that he's out there participating is big for us," coach Adam Gase said. "To see him feel better and move around better is good."

While the Dolphins remain hopeful Mike Pouncey or DeVante Parker could play on Sunday both missed practice again on Wednesday. Pouncey is nursing a hip injury that forced him to miss the final two preseason games. While he is not working in drills, Pouney did make an appearance on the side to work with trainers. That is the first time he's been seen on the field in any fashion since the injury.

Parker has a hamstring injury -- something that has plagued him in both legs, in different spots -- for the past few months.

"It could go either way" with those two, Gase said of their game status.

The Dolphins, per NFL rules, will release an injury report later today.

If Jenkins cannot play the team will ask Spencer Paysinger to play early downs while Neville Hewitt will get some work in pass downs. If Parker cannot play, the Dolphins will lean on rookie Leonte Carroo to take more snaps but could lean more heavily on double-tight end packages. If Pouncey cannot play, the Dolphins will go with undrafted rookie Anthony Steen as their starting center.