EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Dolphins coach Joe Philbin joked that he’s sick of answering questions about why Jabar Gaffney hasn’t been on the field on game day. So this week, he let him play.
Gaffney gave the Dolphins a taste of what they can expect from him yesterday during their 30-9 win over the Jets. He caught a 30-yard pass deep in the red zone midway through the third quarter in a third-and-10 situation, extending a drive that resulted in a touchdown.
He grinned when recalling the play — but immediately turned his mind to what happened after that: On the next Miami possession he was targeted once again as a deep threat and dropped a possible touchdown pass.
“I made a play and had one I wish I could have back,” Gaffney said. “I made one play and got to go back to the Jugs machine and work on not dropping anymore passes.”
The Dolphins picked up the 10-year NFL veteran on Oct. 3 and activated him for the first time Sunday, giving him a few weeks to learn the playbook, get adjusted to the offense and get back to NFL speed.
Gaffney signed a two-year contract with the Patriots this summer and was in camp until he injured his right quadriceps in mid-August. He was cut less than two weeks later when rosters were trimmed.
Gaffney said his leg felt good and it felt “real good running around.”
Philbin, who has been questioned constantly about when Gaffney would return to the field, said he has seen improvement over the past 3 1/2 weeks.
“He’s done a good job in practice, and we felt it was time for him to see if he was ready to contribute,” Philbin said.
“Really it wasn’t anything more than that. There was less indecision. He was practicing a little quicker.”
Gaffney proved last year he has plenty of juice left when he set career highs in catches (68) and receiving yards (947) and tied a career high with five touchdowns while playing for the Redskins.
The former University of Florida star played his first four seasons with the Texans before making stops with the Patriots, Broncos and Redskins.
The Dolphins took a chance on Gaffney with the hope he will develop into an offensive weapon for the team, which is now dealing with an injury to starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who left the game early in the first quarter with a hyperextended left knee and bruised thigh.
Gaffney said it was important that he come out Sunday and prove his worth.
“You want to come out here and try to make a big play or two to help the team,” he said.
Gaffney recognized Sunday’s game as one of many steps he needs to take in his return to the league.
“You always need to continue to get better,” Gaffney said. “I’ve only been in the system for about four weeks now.
“I need to continue to learn it, continue to get more comfortable and continue to make plays. And hopefully I won’t have no more drops.”