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3 posts from November 13, 2012

November 13, 2012

Dolphins face another fast, quick, dangerous back

The Dolphins were somewhat surprised on Sunday when Tennessee's Chris Johnson did something that 22 previous starting running backs had failed to do: He gained over 100 yards in a game.

Johnson had 126 yards on 23 carries.

The Titans basically dominated the line of scrimmage against the Miami defense. And Johnson did his thing both outside the tackles and, shockingly, between the tackles.

So it stands to reason the Dolphins want to get back to their typical selves. They eagerly anticipate starting a new streak against opposing running backs.

The problem is the Buffalo Bills on Thursday will come with a similar run scheme as the Titans did. And C.J. Spiller is a similar back to Johnson.

“Very similar, and their schemes are somewhat similar in that they feature like the type running plays," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "They’re not the type of teams that line up and try to mash you off the ball. They try to get body on a body, get some movement and let those backs find the creases and use their athletic ability.

"They have speed unlike most guys in the league, both Johnson and Spiller, in that you practice against it, yet when you see it for the first time in a game it’s a little bit different. Sometimes it takes some getting used to the speed of the game so to speak, but we can’t waste any time getting used to it here this week. We have to be prepared to go out there and I think we’ll do a better job. We started working on it here this afternoon."

The Dolphins this week are stressing fundamentals. They have to break down. Have balance. Keep disciplined in their angles. And wrap up Spiller.

Otherwise he can leak out and use his speed. Otherwise it allows the Bills to become multi-dimensional on offense. Otherwise it promises another long day.

Dolphins in better physical health than Bills

The Dolphins' trainers (Kevin O'Neill and Troy Maurer), the strength and conditioning guys (Darren Krein and Dave Puloka) and the doctors have been doing excellent work this year because, here we are about to start Week 11 and play a game with only three days rest, and practically the entire roster is going to be available Thursday.

The Buffalo Bills, meanwhile, not so much.

The Dolphins this week are worried about tight end Jeron Mastrud (hamstring) and OLB Koa Misi (calf). Both are being limited in practice. Both will play Thursday barring a setback today or tomorrow.

WR Davone Bress was the only Miami player not at practice Tuesday morning. He is missing practice for personal family reasons. It is not an injury, he's excused and he'll be back Wednesday.

Some other players on the team have bumps and bruises. But all of them are set to go, barring an unexpected fall down a flight a stairs or something.

The bumps and bruises are: LB Karlos Dansby (biceps), WR Jabar Gaffney (knee), WR Brian Hartline (knee), DT Tony McDaniel (knee), Spec. Marlon Moore (neck), C Mike Pouncey (knee, ankle), DT Paul Solliai (ankle, elbow), and DE Olivier Vernon (knee).

Again, all are expected to play.

The Bills have bigger issues.

RB Fred Jackson (concussion) is already known to be out for the game. LB Mark Anderson (knee) is already known to be out for the game. DE Chris Kelsay (neck) and CB Aaron Williams (knee) could not even participate in a walk-thru on Monday.

The club had eight players limited in their partcipation during that walk-thru compared. Again, the Dolphins had only two players limited for Miami's walk-thru. And the Bills reported another four players who are nursing bumps and bruises who soldiered through those to participate Monday.

Point?

Dolphins seem to be in a better health than the Bills now. In a short week, that's important.

Mike Sherman challenges players: Make sons proud!

 Yes, the Dolphins had their pride handed to them on Sunday.

And for players, particularly those on offense, the fact they have not scored a touchdown in six quarters also has to be a humbling experience.

That's perhaps the reason Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman apparently went all Gen. George Patton on the group Monday. During a team meeting with his players, Sherman implored, indeed, demanded that players respond in heroic fashion against Buffalo Thursday night.

"That’s the great thing about football, it really tests you, not just your character as a football player, but your character as a man," Sherman said. "How do you handle adversity? Do you point fingers? Do you accept responsibility? Do you move forward? Do you wallow in despair? Feel sorry for yourself or do you push ahead? It really is a good character test for everybody in that room.

"I told them I want all of their sons to be proud of them, how they handle themselves."

Sherman threw down the proverbial gauntlet and seems confident Miami's players will answer the challenge.

"I’ve never felt more confident about a group of guys being able to handle a situation than I do the guys in that room," he said. "It’s ugly when you lose a game like that and deservedly so. We looked like we never even practiced a day in that game, but we’ve had some good days and we’ve had some bad days.

"Now, we have better days ahead, so I’m looking forward to it.”