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Olivier Vernon fined for hit on Mariota; Brice and Bobby McCain update; Ajayi back at practice

Olivier Vernon today said he has been fined by the NFL for his low hit on Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. Vernon also said he is appealing.

Vernon declined to say how much the fine was for. "A decent amount," he said.

The NFL fine schedule dictates that a player be fined $17,363 for roughing the passer which is what was called on Vernon in the second quarter of the game. That was the play Mariota suffered an MCL sprain.

Interestingly, Vernon was called for two roughing the passer penalties so it's possible his fine is for the second offense, which would be $34,728.

It is also possible the NFL is fining Vernon both amounts. The NFL has not yet returned a message from The Miami Herald for clarification.

So what could Vernon claim to win the appeal? Well, perhaps that he had no intent to hit the quarterback and was merely falling down.

"I feel like, I mean, if you look at certain angles, my arm is being held and I'm falling down," Vernon said. "There's only so much you can do as a player, as a human being, to stop your momentum. So it is what it is."

After the game, Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt called Vernon's hit on his quarterback "B.S." and added that is not how the game should be played. Basically, the coach insinuated Vernon took a cheap shot on the QB.

"I know I'm not a dirty player and everyone else knows I'm not a dirty player. That's all that matters to me," Vernon said. "I tried to talk to [Mariota] on the field when he was down to make sure he was OK. Nobody tries to play the game to hurt nobody -- long term or short term or whatever. You could end somebody's career. That's definitely not my game."

The Dolphins returned to practice this afternoon in full pads. Today is the hitting day.

And while cornerback Brice McCain (knee) and Zack Bowman (unknown reason) missed the portion of practice open to the media, running back Jay Ajayi returned to practice for the first time since training camp.

Ajayi is on the injured reserve list with designation to return. He can practice this week and next and would be eligible to play his first game against Buffalo on Nov. 8.

So for the next two weeks, Ajayi has to get his conditioning back and help the team in ways not apparent on game day.

"My mentality these next two weeks is giving the best look in practice because I'll be helping out with the scout team," Ajayi said.

The running back said he feels "absolutely" 100 percent healthy following the healing of a cracked rib.

It will be interesting to see what the Dolphins do in the next couple of weeks with Ajayi, Damien Williams and Jonas Gray. It's possible the team keeps Ajayi on IR or might cut Gray to get Ajayi on the roster.

Yes, the team could keep four running backs on the roster. But that would be unorthodox.

On the defensive side of the football, it seems pretty obvious that cornerback Jamar Taylor will be in the starting lineup with Brice McCain likely not playing on Sunday. So what will the Dolphins do in the nickel package without McCain in the slot?

Rookie Bobby McCain is next man up.