Short of a dramatic reversal, Jamar Taylor is on track to start at cornerback in place of Cortland Finnegan on Thursday night, the Miami Herald has learned.
The short week makes it unlikely that Finnegan’s injured ankle will heal in time for the Dolphins’ all-important game against the Buffalo Bills.
Finnegan did not practice Tuesday, and during the portion open to reporters, the veteran cornerback wasn’t even on the field to work with trainers or watch his teammates go through the paces. Furthermore, Finnegan has not made himself available to reporters the past two days.
Although the Dolphins listed Will Davis as Finnegan’s backup, the belief within the locker room is that Taylor, who replaced Davis in the Lions game, would get the start if Finnegan is scratched, as expected. However, if Taylor struggles early, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle would probably not hesitate to make a switch.
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“It’s possible,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said of starting Taylor Thursday. “We haven’t finalized anything yet, but it’s certainly possible
“He’s shown some good things. Now, I want to see some production on a consistent basis on the course throughout the course of an entire game.”
Dolphins coaches have been looking for separation from one of their young corners since they entered the league together in 2013. Davis seemed to have the early edge, beginning the season as the team’s third corner, but he has been on the field for just 16 defensive snaps in the past four games.
Taylor, meanwhile, has been used with growing frequency. He has been the first corner off the bench, replacing Finnegan and Brent Grimes when each has dealt with injury issues.
Statistically speaking, there hasn’t been a huge difference between the two. Davis has allowed 12 of 27 passes thrown in his coverage area to be completed, for 171 yards (a passer rating of 77.9), according to Pro Football Focus. Quarterbacks have completed 61.5 passes thrown against Taylor this year for 166 yards, one touchdown and a 92.8 rating.
“I prepare every day like I’m going to start, so when that time comes, it’s not really like I’m too anxious or anything like that,” Taylor said. “I’m just going to go out there and play my game.”
Every team has to play a Thursday night game in the course of the season. But that’s little consolation for the Dolphins, as they try to recover mentally and physically from Sunday’s loss in Detroit.
“As I’ve said before to the team, we aren’t going to be able to practice Buffalo’s blitzes live with a fast speed like we would in a seven-day week,” Philbin said. “Conversely, our secondary and linebackers aren’t going to be practicing all of their pass concepts the same way. A lot of it has to be mental, has to be the film study and those types of things. It’s a little bit different, without a doubt.”
▪ Guard Daryn Colledge (back) appears likely to miss his third consecutive game with a back injury. Colledge did not practice Tuesday.
With Colledge out against the Lions, the Dolphins had hoped to rotate Dallas Thomas and Shelley Smith, but left tackle Branden Albert’s year-ending knee injury scuttled that plan. Assuming Colledge does not play, Smith would probably start at left guard Thursday and Thomas at right tackle.
The left tackle job appears to belong to Ja’Wuan James for the remainder of the season — at least.
“It’s going to be tough, but I’m willing to do it,” James said. “I’m going to say it, and I’m going to keep saying it, I’m going to do what the team needs me to do to try to help the team go out there and compete the best I can.”
▪ Lamar Miller (shoulder) practiced on a limited basis Tuesday, and said afterward: “I feel good.” All indications are he will play against the Bills after getting just four carries (for 10 yards) against the Lions.
The Dolphins will use Thursday night’s game to honor the military with a Salute to Service program of events. Among the highlights:
▪ A tank, helicopter and military veterans spanning from WWII to current wars dressed in military apparel from the time period they served will appear at Gate C.
▪ An Air Force simulator and a rapid strike vehicle will be positioned at Gate E.
▪ Former Dolphins Lousaka Polite and Twan Russell will serve as the team’s honorary captains. Both have visited U.S. military stationed overseas.