Lots of stuff happening today at Dolphins camp ... and, of course, with the Patriots.
First, you should know that linebacker Phillip Wheeler, who missed practice during the open portion of practice on Monday, is back on the field today. But he is wearing a club-like cast on his right hand.
If that thing is still on Sunday, there is no way he'll be able to tackle.
That seems like a concern.
The Dolphins publicly had no concern about the Patriots adding former Dolphins defensive back Don Jones off waivers on Monday. Indeed, all coach Joe Philbin could say about the former special teams tackle leader when Boston media asked was that he's on the Patriots now and that he didn't want to comment.
Well, I suppose he won't want to comment on the Patriots signing former kick returner-punt returner-wide receiver-running back Marcus Thigpen today. Thigpen has been added to the Patriots practice squad, per The Herald's Barry Jackson, and that now gives Bill Belichick a chance to have inside information on the Miami defense (Jones) and offense (Thigpen).
And you know what that tells me?
It tells me Bill Belichick is indeed going to get more information on the Dolphins than he would otherwise have gotten. That is obvious.
But it also tells me Belichick is worried, if not afraid, of being unprepared against a Dolphins team that might break out a new wrinkle here or there. By the way, this morning I suggested the Dolphins come with a 3-4 front on defense.
The fact this is the opener and Belichick has no tape of the new Miami offense while the defense has had all offseason to add wrinkles worries the New England coach. A lot.
"Oh yeah, sure, without a doubt," he told the South Florida media on a conference call. "I mean, the opening game is probably the hardest game of the year to prepare for because there are just unknowns. Teams have held things back that they haven’t shown in preseason. You’re not sure exactly how they’re going to use their personnel, what different wrinkles they have.
"I know there’s a little bit of that from week to week, but there’s a lot more of it now. Teams have had a lot more time to work on it all through the spring and training camp and not show it in preseason games, but still be able to go out there and potentially run it with a high level of execution. That’s a lot different than putting a play in for a week and just having a couple days to work on it.
"And there are a lot of unknowns about the team that you’re on. You just haven’t been in this situation before. There are unknowns on your side of the ball; there are unknowns on the other side of the ball. And it’s opening day, so when you look back at Week One, there are always crazy things that happen in the league. I’d say particularly in the kicking game, but throughout the game: situations or unusual plays or just something that you wouldn’t really think would go the way it does, but that’s the start of the season. So yeah, I think it’s definitely the hardest game to prepare for.
"You don’t want to over prepare for it because there’s no way your opponent could do everything that you’ve seen them do over all the time that you’ve studied them or all the things they have the potential to do. But at the same time, you don’t want to underprepare and get in there and find out that they’ve done something that you haven’t worked on and you don’t have your team in a good position to work on it. It’s challenging to find that right line or preparations, definitely."
If you are not getting the idea that Belichick is concerned, let me further convince you. Belichick is the master of the one sentence answer, particularly with writers from other cities. And yet, he practically spoke on this topic for two minutes.
And then there is this: I still wish the Dolphins were as willing to find out what the Patriots are likely to do. They are, however, more concerned about themselves than their opponent. We'll see how that plays out on Sunday.