Some Saturday tidbits:
### Though he's listed as questionable, Mike Wallace (hamstring) expects to play Sunday, barring a setback. Mike Pouncey, who has been under the weather, also hopes to play barring a setback.
### The Dolphins plan to promote center Sam Brenner from the practice squad to fill Will Yeatman's roster spot on the 53-man roster.
### The plunge in quality of the Dolphins’ run defense (from 7th in the league in 2011 to 25th this season) was a big topic in the locker-room this week, and Randy Starks raised eyebrows Wednesday when he said: “Some people are not on the same page.” He then had to end his media session to run to a meeting.
I revisited the topic with him on Friday, asking what he meant exactly.
Starks said at times a call is made from the coaches that needs to be changed “and someone might make the call, but not everyone will get it. Some check to it and some don’t.”
But it’s disturbing those types of communication issues are happening in November.
As CBS’ Rich Gannon said, Miami was being gashed by a third-string back Monday, “guys off the street.”
Starks, by the way, has played well. PFF ranks him third-best among defensive tackles against the run.
### A few changes in personnel continue to have a corrosive effect on the run defense. Last season, Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett ranked in the top quarter at their position against the run.
Philip Wheeler, who replaced Burnett, ranks 33rd out of 35 outside linebackers against the run among players in a 4-3 defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Dannell Ellerbe, who replaced Dansby, ranks 35th out of 53. Koa Misi ranks 11th but missed Monday’s game with an injury.
What’s more, Wheeler has missed 14 tackles (third-most among outside linebackers) and Ellerbe has missed nine (sixth-most).
### If only Dimitri Patterson could stay healthy. He’s questionable for Sunday with a groin injury that has limited him to four games this season. His ratio of interceptions per snaps (four in 210) is easily the best in the league. Quarterbacks have a 36.7 rating in his coverage area, which is fourth-best in the league. But health remains an issue.
By the way, credit Jimmy Wilson for his improvement; quarterbacks have a 64.7 rating in his coverage area, second-best among Dolphins corners. (Wilson also plays safety). “My football smarts are up,” he said.
### The NFL fined Wheeler $21,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on TampaBay quarterback Mike Glennon. Wheeler was called for a penalty on the play, a costly fourth-quarter mistake because Tampa would have punted otherwise. And Mike Pouncey was fined $7,875 for striking a Tampa player in the head early in Monday’s game.
### One of the most disturbing aspects of UM’s offense this year and has been the number of three-and-outs --- far too many for a team with this much offensive talent.
No wonder UM has plunged to 123rd of 125 FBS teams in time of possession. UM has the ball just 25:40 per game – ahead of only Wyoming and Indiana. That’s down slightly from 26:22 last season. And UM had it just 20 minutes against Virginia Tech.
Al Golden agreed last week that this is a major problem, partly because it’s forcing UM’s defense to be on the field far too long.
### Brent Musburger said Stephen Morris’ injury has been an Achilles’, not an ankle sprain. “Very untrue,” Morris said of Musburger’s report.
### UM hoops lost out on a skilled big man Friday when three-star center Satchel Pierce chose Marquette over UM and Pittsburgh. UM signed four players last week and has one more scholarship available.
### Dwyane Wade missed a couple more late-game free throws last night, and his overall free throw percentage has plunged to 62.2 -- 28 for 45. He shot a career-low 72.5 last season. Some other parts of his game have been sterling (including the career-high eight steals last night), but he must fix the free throw issue before the playoffs.
### LeBron James is shooting an absurd 61 percent through nine games – third in the league behind only 7-footers Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan.
### The Heat and UM football have had only one direct conflict this season – last Saturday. So which team drew more viewers? UM-Virginia Tech generated a 5.5 local rating; Heat-Celtics had a 5.2.
### As Fox’s Ken Rosenthal reported, the Marlins have received a lot of inquiries about Logan Morrison. The Marlins haven’t ruled out trading him if they can upgrade, but they’re not aggressively shopping him and would be OK with Morrison returning as their first baseman.
### A few people have asked us about Sunday’s NFL TV situation locally. It’s a bit complicated, but here’s the deal: Because the Dolphins are home but not playing on the network with the double-header, we can get only two Sunday afternoon games in their entirety: Washington-Philadelphia at 1 p.m. on Fox and Dolphins-Chargers at 4:05 p.m. on CBS.
But the NFL will allow Miami’s Fox affiliate (WSVN-7) to join Fox’s late-afternoon game in progress at 7 p.m. Fox told us it will air Saints-49ers, in progress, in South Florida beginning at 7 p.m. It’s conceivable we could get the end of Packers-Giants if the Saints game is a blowout or if the Saints game ends before the Giants game.
That scenario of joining a game in progress, exactly at 7 p.m., seldom happens, but it's the second time it will happen in South Florida this season.... CBS assigned No. 2 team Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf to Sunday's Dolphins game.