This wasn’t the way Randy Starks would have wanted to recapture his starting job, with his friend Paul Soliai sidelined Sunday and potentially beyond with a knee injury.
But Starks is expected to be in the starting lineup Sunday, alongside Jared Odrick at defensive tackle, after coming off the bench behind Odrick the first two games — a scenario that Starks never complained about publicly but one that displeased him, his agent said this month.
“It will be fun starting,” Starks said.
And he said he’s more than capable of playing well as a starter “in case there are any doubts around here.”
Starks has been productive in his 82 snaps, with two sacks and eight quarterback hurries. Starks, who has played 34 fewer snaps than Odrick, on Friday was awarded half a sack (along with Philip Wheeler) for the takedown of Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck on the Colts’ final drive last Sunday.
Without Soliai, who has played 90 snaps, “I have to play in the middle and take up blocks like he does,” Starks said.
Vaughn Martin, who played 484 snaps for San Diego last season, has logged only seven through two games but likely will play more in Soliai’s absence.
Asked if he expected to play more when he signed as a free agent, he said: “My only concern regarding playing time is to make my reps as impactful as possible. It’s a long season. Don’t count reps. Make reps count.”
Soliai might be the Dolphins’ best run defender, but even with him, Miami has allowed 4.6 yards per carry, which ranks 27th.
“We would love to be less than 4 yards a carry,” coach Joe Philbin said. “Teams aren’t necessarily lining up and [running] the ball on us without us not having a chance to stop it. But there is certainly room for improvement in our run defense, no doubt.”
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was limited in practice earlier this week with an injury to his right (throwing shoulder) sustained in the Colts game, participated in all of practice Friday and threw the ball well, according to an offensive player. He was listed as probable and is expected to play.
Also listed as probable: linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (pectoral/ribs); defensive ends Dion Jordan (shoulder) and Olivier Vernon (thumb); cornerbacks Will Davis (toe) and Jamar Taylor (groin); safety Jimmy Wilson (groin); guard John Jerry (knee); and offensive lineman Nate Garner (shoulder).
Listed as questionable: receiver Mike Wallace (groin); center Mike Pouncey (ankle); safety Chris Clemons (hamstring); linebacker Koa Misi (knee); and No. 3 quarterback Pat Devlin (ankle).
Besides receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White, the Falcons also listed starting cornerback Asante Samuel and backup defensive end Cliff Matthews as questionable.
This and that
• With cornerback Dimitri Patterson the only other Dolphins player listed as out besides Soliai, Davis said he believes he might get defensive snaps Sunday in his first regular-season appearance as a Dolphin.
• According to Philbin, the running game’s dramatic improvement from the Cleveland to Indianapolis games went beyond better blocking.
Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas combined for 99 yards on 22 carries against Cleveland. The backs “were decisive,” Philbin said. “The week before, they weren’t necessarily able to get to their landmark without veering off course.”
• Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo, who played the past seven seasons for the Falcons, said he emailed some former Falcons teammates some tips about South Florida, including dining establishments.
“This is Clabo’s Super Bowl,” guard Richie Incognito said.