With South Florida at risk of being impacted by a hurricane early next week, the Dolphins have examined the possibility of moving practice to an undisclosed location elsewhere, potentially on Monday and Tuesday.
“We’ve discussed a couple different scenarios,” coach Joe Philbin said. “We’ll be ready if we need to. Everything is on the table. We have to get our team ready to play in the regular season.”
Philbin declined to say where practices might be moved.
According to projections released Thursday afternoon, Tropical Storm Erika is expected to reach hurricane status with 75 mph winds as it approaches South Florida on Monday. It’s too early to tell whether South Florida will get a direct hit.
The Dolphins say there are no plans to move Saturday’s home game against Atlanta. And the storm is expected to have passed before next Thursday’s preseason finale against Tampa Bay at Sun Life Stadium.
Dallas Thomas said he’s prepared to play some left tackle on Saturday in the absence of Branden Albert (knee) and Jason Fox (concussion).
Thomas has been working with the first team at tackle this week but allowed seven sacks when he played tackle last season. “I remember it all, the good, bad and ugly,” Thomas said Thursday, smiling.
Thomas has worked mostly at left guard this summer and is the likely starter there once the regular season begins.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle confirmed what had already become clear: Walt Aikens is the “leading candidate” to replace injured Louis Delmas as the starter at safety, alongside Reshad Jones.
“Even prior to Louis’ [season-ending knee] injury, Walt was one of the most improved players on our team throughout the spring, throughout training camp,” Coyle said. “He’s a very, very good athlete. He needs experience and he’s getting that. Hopefully will make an impact on the defense.”
In Delmas’ absence, Michael Thomas’ role also “has increased,” Coyle said. “Mike is a guy you can rely on. Very capable, very steady, confident back there.”
▪ Coyle said “a final decision has not been reached” on middle linebacker, but the Dolphins worked all week with Kelvin Sheppard at middle linebacker, flanked by Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi. Sheppard clearly is the front-runner for the job.
“It’s not an issue we lay awake at night worrying about,” Coyle said of middle linebacker. “We’re confident we have the right mix of guys who can get the job done. You are looking for an instinctive player that likes to take charge and communicate. Kelvin Sheppard has done a very good job. Koa has made great strides in that capacity. He’s going to have opportunities to show that.”
▪ Strong-side linebacker Chris McCain has been battling Sheppard for the one open linebacker job, but Coyle said: “I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Chris to this point. You love his height. You love his range. You love his length. He can be better. He can be more impacting both as a linebacker and as a rusher. I hope we start to see that.
“I talked to Chris walking off the field today – I want to see him go out there Saturday night and cut it loose and be the athlete he’s capable of being. Don’t think too much.”
▪ Among the rookie linebackers, Coyle said: “Zach Vigil has really stepped up. Jeff Luc has stepped up.”
▪ Coyle said rookie cornerback Tony Lippett “has done well” in his transition from receiver.
▪ Besides Fox, Jamar Taylor (thigh), DeVante Parker (foot) and Jordan Tripp (ankle) also sat out Thursday’s practice.