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Philbin on Miami's plan without Branden Albert; Bills player guarantees win; Dolphins chatter

A 1 p.m. Monday Dolphins update:

As expected, the Dolphins placed left tackle Branden Albert on injured reserve, ending his season. Running back LaMichael James has been promoted to the 53-man roster, according to James' agent.

Joe Philbin indicated the Dolphins will move forward with how they finished the game Sunday: with Ja’Wuan James at left tackle and Dallas Thomas at right tackle.

“What you saw is probably what you’re going to get,” Philbin said. “Ja’Wuan has always gotten a little bit of work at left tackle [in practice]. Dallas has gotten some work at tackle. We’ll make it work.”

How did James do at left tackle Sunday after Albert's injury?

“He held up well,” Philbin said. “It wasn’t perfect. He’s a pretty good athlete.”

Regarding Thomas, Philbin said: “I like what he’s done. He’s clearly much, much further along than he was a year ago. We have a lot more confidence in him. Just his ability in one game to play left guard and then flip over and play right tackle, and function relatively well speaks a lot to his level of preparation, his intelligence, those types of things. I think he’s making good progress. I like what he’s done.”

### Albert tore his ACL and MCL, a injury that has a recovery time of 9 to 12 months.

On Albert, Philbin said: “A pro. A good professional. A hard worker. Always had upbeat, positive attitude.”

### The Dolphins promoted James because they are concerned about Lamar Miller's separated shoulder, which limited him to 11 snaps on Sunday. James, drafted 61st overall by San Francisco in 2012, has 41 career carries for 194 yards (4.5 average). He requested his release before the season, hoping to find a more meaningful role elsewhere.

BILLS LOOMING

Since Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill became the Dolphins’ coach/quarterback tandem, the Buffalo Bills have flummoxed Tannehill, frequently overpowered the Dolphins’ offensive line and defeated Miami in four of their five meetings.

And at least one Bills player is confident that will happen again Thursday when the teams meet at Sun Life Stadium.

“We’re going to go out and we’re going to beat that ass. Point blank. Period,” cornerback Leodis McKelvin told reporters after the Bills’ loss to Kansas City Sunday.

Philbin’s response? “Football is going to be decided on the field. That’s really what’s important.”

The Bills are hardly the ideal opponent for Miami on a short work week, even more so considering left tackle Brandon Albert’s season-ending knee injury leaves the Dolphins more vulnerable against the Bills’ dominant defensive front.

“I think the Bills are built to beat us,” linebacker Philip Wheeler said after the Bills’ 29-10 drubbing of the Dolphins in Week 2. “They have a good scheme against us every year. Their defense stops our offense. Their offense runs the ball on us.”

Philbin did not answer specifically when asked why the Bills pose problems for Miami. Instead, he cited only the Week 2 meeting.

“In week 2 we didn’t get off to a very good start,” he said. “We had a lot of negative plays --- five negative plays in the first half on offense. A blocked punt in the first half. We had two 28-yard passes [against] that we felt were more mistakes, schematic things on our end. We never had momentum in that game. We have to learn from those things and make sure those things don’t happen in the rematch.”

Among some of the problems that have emerged against Buffalo during the Philbin/Tannehill era:

### Tannehill has completed only 52.4 percent of his passes in five career games against the Bills, well below his 60.5 percent career average. His 67 passer rating in those games is well below his 81.6 career rating.

And he’s averaging only 157.6 passing yards per game against Buffalo, with seven touchdowns and five interceptions.

### One reason Tannehill has struggled against Buffalo is Miami’s inability to slow the Bills’ pass rush. Buffalo has sacked Tannehill 18 times in the five games, including four times in their September meeting and seven times in Miami’s 19-0 loss at Buffalo last December.

Mario Williams and Kyle Williams each have four sacks against the Dolphins in their past three meetings, and Jerry Hughes has two in the past two games against Miami.

A Mario Williams sack late in their October meeting at Sun Life Stadium last year led to a Tannehill fumble and set up Buffalo’s game-winning field goal in a 23-21 victory --- an embarrassing loss for the Dolphins considering the Bills were playing Thad Lewis, Buffalo’s No. 3 quarterback at the time.

And now the Dolphins will face that physical front four without Albert, arguably their best player in the first half of the season. A diminished, reshuffled offensive line could spell trouble against a Bills defense that leads the league with 34 sacks. (The Dolphins, by the way, are tied for third with 28 sacks.)

### The Bills have run for 120, 203 and 113 yards in their past three games against the Dolphins. Conversely, the Dolphins produced just 90, 14 and 80 yards rushing in those three games.

The Bills will be without C.J. Spiller, who had 69 yards on 12 carries against Miami in September but is now out indefinitely, possibly for the season, with a collarbone injury.

But they still have Fred Jackson, who returned from a groin injury Sunday against Kansas City but received a light workload, with three carries for 10 yards.

Jackson had just 24 yards on 12 carries in the September game but ran for 105 on 18 carries in the Bills’ win against Miami last December.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have averaged just 3.0, 1.2 and 3.8 yards per rush in their past three games against Buffalo. And their top running back, Miller, likely will enter Thursday's game still limited by a shoulder injury.

As noted above, Miller played only 11 of Miami’s 61 offensive snaps Sunday against Detroit, finishing with 10 yards on four carries. Unless Miller shows he is capable of more work with the shoulder injury, the Dolphins again will need to also rely on Damian Williams, who had 34 yards on seven carries, and Daniel Thomas, who had 14 yards on five carries.

Williams played 26 snaps, Thomas 23, and Williams also made an impact as a receiver (3 for 27).

“We need to do better,” Philbin said of the running game. “I didn’t think there were a lot of gaping holes we missed, but there were a couple of opportunities for more yards than we got.”

The Bills, who were quarterbacked by E.J. Manuel during their Week 2 meeting, are now led by Kyle Orton, who has 10 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 98.4 passer rating in five starts.

Some other Monday thoughts from Philbin and notes from Sunday:

### The biggest challenge playing Thursday: “It’s a quick turnaround," Philbin said. "Preparation aspect shifts toward the mental preparation.”

### On Dion Jordan’s progress, Philbin said: “I like it. He played a variety of positions in a lot of different jobs. Overall, he did a good job.”

### Pro Football Focus gave James by far Miami’s worst grade of any offensive player, which seemed harsh. PFF justified it by pointing out that James allowed five quarterback hurries and struggled in run blocking. But James was competent when he moved from right tackle to left tackle after Albert’s injury.

PFF gave Miami’s second-worst grade to right guard Mike Pouncey, who allowed two sacks and four hurries.

### Against Detroit, Jarvis Landry was targeted 10 times, Charles Clay nine and Mike Wallace eight. Conversely, Brian Hartline was thrown only one pass, which was completed.

Here’s how the receiver snaps broke down: Wallace 53 (of 61 possible), Hartline 46, Landry 38, Brandon Gibson 30 and Rishard Matthews nine.

### Defensively, PFF gave its highest grades to Derrick Shelby, Jelani Jenkins and Earl Mitchell and the lowest to Jamar Taylor, who allowed 6 of 7 passes thrown in his coverage area to be completed, for 62 yards, in his 23 defensive snaps.

Taylor figures to play a lot Thursday if Cortland Finnegan doesn’t make a surprisingly speedy recovery from an ankle injury sustained in the second half Sunday.

### Defensive snap count notes from Sunday: Among linebackers, Jenkins played all 67 and Koa Misi 65. Philbin Wheeler played just 21.

On the defensive line, Jared Odrick played 57, Olivier Vernon 55, Cam Wake 53, Dion Jordan 30 and Mitchell and Shelby 21 apiece.

### Tannehill was 18 for 19 for 135 yards and a touchdown when he wasn’t facing quarterback pressure Sunday (a 113.8 rating). But when he was under pressure, he was 9 for 19 for 87 yards and a pick (38.7 rating).

### Please check back later for comments from the Dolphins’ coordinators, who will address the media at 4:30... .Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

 

     

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