The Dolphins’ immediate plans for veteran tackle Bryant McKinnie, acquired Monday in a trade with the Ravens, remain veiled heading into Sunday’s game against the Patriots.
The prevailing wisdom is that McKinnie was brought in to, at some point, start at left tackle, moving Jonathan Martin to right tackle and Tyson Clabo to the bench.
While McKinnie wasn’t made available to the media Friday, Clabo did speak about the acquisition.
“I try to be an adult,” Clabo said. “I’m not going to throw a temper tantrum or do anything stupid. I still have a job in the NFL, one of the best jobs in the world. I’m just going to continue to do my job, which is to do whatever they ask me to do.”
Clabo said that the coaching staff hasn’t informed him of a change on the depth chart, and he did take first-team snaps in the portions of practice made available to the media, but the nine-year veteran can see the writing on the wall.
“It’s reality,” Clabo said. “It happens to everyone at some point.”
So while it seems inevitable that McKinnie will move into the starting lineup, the 34-year-old won’t be able to do so until he learns the offense’s terminology and audibles.
“He’s done a good job; he’s been diligent,” said Dolphins coach Joe Philbin. “Football’s not overly complicated, I don’t think. He’s been at this profession for a while, and he’s got a good broad-based knowledge of offensive football, so he’s picked up things well.”
Center Mike Pouncey said while every player learns a system at a different speed, he’s seen encouraging signs that McKinnie can be game-ready soon.
“He’s a very smart guy, and he’s been in this league a long time,” Pouncey said. “If he’s not ready to play, he won’t play. But if he feels confident, hopefully he’ll be in there.”
STEADY LOCKER ROOM
Despite three consecutive losses, Dolphins’ locker room isn’t full of discouraged faces and bad body language. While players and coaches expressed frustration with the recent results, the team remains confident in its direction.
“We told them that in the NFL it’s a long season,” Philbin said. “There’s inevitably highs and lows. We’ve got to stay the course and believe in one another. There are no magic answers and we’ve got to go back to work and do things better.”
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was upbeat during his Wednesday press conference, and Philbin, typically placid, showed sparks of enthusiasm throughout the week. It appears attitude has trickled down.
Philbin said he likes to gauge the mood of the team by the efficiency of practice.
“We finished ahead of schedule [Friday],” Philbin said. “So that’s one indicator in my mind. Guys are moving and guys are thinking football, wanting to get better.”
The week’s final injury report revealed only promising news for the Dolphins. All eight Miami players listed on the report are considered probable for Sunday.
Tannehill (shoulder) entered the locker room Friday with ice taped to his right shoulder and elbow, but he fully participated in practice, after being listed as limited on the injury reports released Wednesday and Thursday.
Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder), McKinnie (knee) and wide receiver Brandon Gibson (shoulder) were also upgraded to full participation after being limited earlier in the week.
Cornerbacks Brent Grimes (back) and Dimitri Patterson (groin), linebacker Koa Misi (knee) and defensive end Cameron Wake (knee) were full participants all week.
Rookie linebacker Jelani Jenkins was fined $15,750 by the league for his hit last week on Buffalo quarterback Thad Lewis. The hit was penalized with a 15-yard penalty, and the NFL said it fined Jenkins because he struck the quarterback with his helmet.
Judging by Philbin’s comments earlier in the week, the fine doesn’t come as a surprise.
“It’s the quarterback,” Philbin said. “He’s got to hit the guy lower.”