Michael Thomas might be the Dolphins’ “new superstar,” as Joe Philbin put it, but Brent Grimes and Nolan Carroll are still the team’s best cover corners.
Good news for the Dolphins: Each looks to have a good chance of playing in Sunday's crucial game at Buffalo.
Grimes and Carroll practiced Tuesday, at least on a limited basis, some 48 hours after each left the Patriots game with an injury. Grimes left with a groin issue Sunday; Carroll injured his knee.
“It’s just nicks and stuff you get during the season,” Grimes said. “I'm not getting into everything, but I’m good. There’s no problem. I’ll be all right.”
Carroll wasn’t available in the locker room after practice, but he and Grimes worked during the 15-minute period open to the media Tuesday. And Grimes still was wearing his helmet when practice ended an hour later — another positive sign.
Although the Dolphins practiced Tuesday, they are not compelled to release any injury updates before Wednesday, and they did not.
When asked how encouraging it was to have his two starting corners back on the field, Philbin pivoted. He instead praised the backups who had to finish the Patriots game in their place.
“I think it’s our job as coaches to get players ready to play the game,” Philbin said. “Certainly, it's a credit to a guy like Jimmy Wilson, who goes out there and plays cornerback. Will Davis has been here for a while but hasn’t gotten a significant amount of playing time.”
Philbin continued: “Michael Thomas, the new superstar, his story’s well documented. That's what our job is, and you go forward with the guys you have, and they stepped up nice.”
Philbin’s tongue might have been planted in his cheek, but he was correct: Thomas was again swamped by more than a dozen reporters when he spoke in the locker room Tuesday.
His game-saving interception of Tom Brady is now South Florida folklore, and Thomas is clearly enjoying the moment.
A week ago, his new Dolphins teammates didn’t know his name. But there he was Tuesday, snatching a TV microphone and interrupting Mike Wallace’s media briefing. He showed off the gloves he used to make the last-second pick, which Thomas said were a gift from Wallace.
“When you come up, you try to give to the needy,” Wallace said, joking. “My guy didn't have a pair of gloves. I went and found a brand new pair.”
Thomas also has a new apartment to go along with the gloves. He found a place Monday, meaning, as he said with a smile, “I'm here for at least another week.”
Indeed, when Miami made a roster move Monday — claiming corner Jalil Brown off waivers — it cut safety D.J. Campbell, not Thomas, to make room.
Brown is a former fourth-round pick from Colorado who played five games with the Colts this season. And given the Dolphins’ recent history, don’t be surprised if he plays a meaningful role Sunday.
“It shows that I’ve got to be prepared,” Brown said. “They brought me in to help the team win.”
However, Grimes and Carroll being on the field gives the Dolphins the best chance to win. The pass defense has surrendered 685 yards in the past two weeks, and Brady was carving up the secondary late Sunday until Thomas played hero.
Luckily for them, the Bills can’t throw the ball. Buffalo ranks 29th in the NFL, averaging just 192 yards per game through the air.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins’ playoff picture became a little clearer with the Ravens’ comeback win over the Lions late Monday. Their easiest path to the postseason would be by winning out.
But they might not even need to wait until Week 17. If Miami wins Sunday and the Bengals and Ravens both lose, the Dolphins would clinch the second AFC wild-card spot.
That’s the best-case scenario. The worst? If the Dolphins and Chargers both lose and the Ravens and Bengals both win, Miami would be eliminated.
“We've got to beat them,” Grimes said. “If we win our two games, we’ll get to the tournament. All we can worry about is beating the Bills.”