The Dolphins hoped signing Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe would help tighten their coverage against tight ends. It still might, but the problem persisted in the opener against Cleveland.
And against the Colts on Sunday, the Dolphins will face one or two tight ends who were considered among the best in the 2012 draft: Coby Fleener and possibly Dwayne Allen, if he is able to play despite a hip injury that kept him out of practice the past two days.
Allen, listed as questionable, had six catches for a career-high 75 yards against the Dolphins last season to highlight a 45-reception, 521-yard year. Fleener closed his rookie season with 26 catches for 281 yards.
The Dolphins hope neither Allen nor Fleener inflicts as much damage as Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron, who entered last Sunday with 26 career receptions in two years but produced nine catches (in 11 passes to him) for 108 yards. Several Dolphins defensive players were victimized, Wheeler among them.
“A couple of things the [Browns] did enabled the tight end to get into an area where we might not have had the best coverage on a certain play,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. “It was a schematic thing where I could have helped them with it.”
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson was listed as questionable but said his injured groin is feeling much better, and he expects to play Sunday. Cornerbacks Will Davis (toe) and Jamar Taylor (ankle) were ruled out. Brent Grimes, Nolan Carroll and R.J. Stanford are the only completely healthy cornerbacks on the roster.
Quarterback Pat Devlin (ankle) also is out.
Seven Dolphins were listed as probable: Dion Jordan, Ellerbe, Reshad Jones, Brandon Gibson, Josh Kaddu, Dion Simms and Jonathan Freeny.
• Indianapolis starting running back Vick Ballard sustained a season-ending knee injury in practice Thursday, meaning Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown likely will handle the bulk of the carries Sunday. Besides Allen, Colts starting linebackers Erik Walden and Jerrell Freeman are also questionable.
Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said Charles Clay’s 64 plays (in 70 offensive snaps) were “probably too many for him.” Coach Joe Philbin left open the possibility of giving more work to Sims, who had 15 snaps.
Philbin said Sims “had a very good week of practice — better” than last week and “hopefully can contribute Sunday.” Michael Egnew had 21 snaps last week. Philbin wants his tight ends to improve their run blocking.
• Though Danny Watkins doesn’t appear ready to unseat John Jerry at right guard, Philbin said Watkins “is picking the system up well. Seems like a bright guy. Been in the building a lot, getting extra help. I like the progress he’s making.”
• Every starting Dolphins offensive lineman was charged with a sack last Sunday except Mike Pouncey.
• One major reason why seventh-round pick Don Jones, the former Arkansas State safety, made the Dolphins was his skills on special teams. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones graded out the best of any Dolphin on coverage teams last week even though his best tackle was nullified by a teammate’s penalty.
• Cameron Wake, tweeting during Thursday’s Patriots-Jets game: “How do you watch a game where you want both teams to lose? I’m conflicted on every play.”