Dolphins notebook

Miami Dolphins audition four receivers but pass on each one

 

The Dolphins worked out four receivers but didn’t sign any, meaning they will promote a player from the practice squad to replace Brandon Gibson, who was formally placed on injured reserve.

 
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Gibson high-fives fans after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Gibson high-fives fans after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013.
HECTOR GABINO / EL NUEVO STAFF

abeasley@MiamiHerald.com

The Miami Dolphins worked the phones, seeking out a trade ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s deadline. They brought in four players for tryouts.

Nothing materialized. As the sun set Tuesday, the Dolphins’ roster had the same group of receivers as when it rose — minus Brandon Gibson, who was formally placed on injured reserve.

Meaning: They’ll have to replace one of their most effective red zone options with somebody they already have — at least Thursday night against the Bengals.

Every team deals with injuries, but the Dolphins have been hit particularly hard, especially at the skill positions. Receiver Armon Binns was injured in training camp. Tight end Dustin Keller blew out his knee in the third preseason game. And now Gibson is gone for the season.

But the Dolphins stood pat Tuesday.

It shouldn’t be a major surprise that the Dolphins, who have just three receivers on their team, didn’t swing a trade. They have made just one in-season swap since 2009, and that was last week for Bryant McKinnie.

But they did have some attractive free agent options in for a visit.

The Dolphins worked out four wideouts Tuesday and gave two a physical — yet they all were sent home without a contract.

Free agent wide receivers Mike Thomas and Ben Obomanu went through on-field drills and a battery of medical exams Tuesday. But the Dolphins ultimately elected not to make an offer to either. Matt Willis and Mohamed Massaquoi also were in Davie for a tryout, according to a league source.

Even had they signed, it was unlikely any of them would have played Thursday. The week is simply too short. The Dolphins still have an open roster spot, and probably will fill it by elevating someone from their practice squad. Receivers Ryan Spadola and Nathan Palmer are the options.

Given the nature of Gibson’s knee injury — a torn patellar tendon — there’s no guarantee he’ll even be ready for the start of the 2014 training camp. The expected recovery time for such a surgery is nine months, according to UM Health orthopedist Bryson Lesniak.

“Tough for a speed guy but certainly not impossible,’’ Lesniak said.

For the rest of this season, the Dolphins probably will use a combination of Rishard Matthews and Marcus Thigpen to fill Gibson’s spot. But it’s not as simple as plugging in a player and expecting the same level of production.

Gibson was never really a slot receiver before joining the Dolphins this season, but he did an excellent job in his new role. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the fifth-most targeted slot in football before his injury, and his catch rate (70.7 percent) is sixth-best for his position.

He also became a go-to red zone threat, leading Dolphins wideouts with three touchdowns — all in the past two weeks.

As for his likely replacement? His next pro touchdown will be his first.

“I feel that I’m a big target,” said Matthews, who is listed at 6-0 and 210 pounds. “I feel like I can pluck the ball out of the air good, so that’s definitely a plus. We’ll see how it works this week.”

Matthews said the Dolphins definitely need to score more touchdowns.

More to the point: Mike Wallace needs to score more touchdowns. He is on pace for a career low in scores. Wallace has never had fewer than six in a season; he has one in seven games with the Dolphins.

“I’ve never been in this situation,” Wallace said. “You just have to keep working. You can’t get down. You can’t go in the tank. You’ve got to stay positive.”

Pouncey’s comment

Mike Pouncey spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since he was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in the Aaron Hernandez case.

After declining comment on the matter, Pouncey was asked if the week’s events could be a distraction. He responded: “I’m going to play a good football game.”

•  Jonathan Martin missed his second consecutive practice with an undisclosed illness. Tyson Clabo, who was benched after allowing eight sacks in six games, worked as the team’s starting right tackle Tuesday.

“I understand that there are probably four right tackles in the NFL that can block Elvis Dumervil and Mario Williams one-on-one consistently,” Clabo said. “At this point in my career, it doesn’t appear that I’m one of them. But I still have confidence in my ability to start at right tackle in this league.”

• Tight end Dion Sims also missed practice again with a toe injury. CB Brent Grimes (quad), OT Bryant McKinnie (knee) and LB Olivier Vernon (knee) were full participants.

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