Clearing out the notebook (actually I dispensed with notebooks long ago and now use my phone instead) before the last significant Miami Dolphins practice of the week begins Friday afternoon:
The Dolphins linebacker room is an interesting place these days. Yes, obviously, Lawrence Timmons caused a lot of commotion around the team last week when he went AWOL. That was ... interesting.
So the Dolphins are getting nothing out of Timmons and they’re getting nothing out of Rey Maualuga, either. Maualuga, you’ll recall, signed in mid-August when rookie Raekwon McMillan blew out his knee.
And Maualuga didn’t play in the preseason.
And he didn’t play in the regular-season opener.
And he’s not playing Sunday against the New York Jets.
Maualuga has not practiced in two weeks after injuring his hamstring the week the Dolphins were scheduled to open their season against Tampa Bay, a game that eventually was postponed because of Hurricane Irma.
The point is two big-name vets the Dolphins added at linebacker have so far not contributed.
Maualuga is obviously not suspended but he was out of shape when he signed so getting him in condition was one thing, but now the team has to get him healthy.
“My biggest thing for him is I just want to make sure he’s healthy,” coach Adam Gase said. “The few times that we’ve had him out there, I was a little nervous for him. The linebackers are working on wrapping up and things and he’s popping guys pretty good. I’m excited to see when he does get out there and he’s healthy and ready to go, just a good piece to the puzzle.”
That’s good. But not this week.
When Timmons left the team it thrust Mike Hull into a more significant role with greater playing time.
Originally, Hull was expected to play between 15-25 plays per game, depending on the game’s direction, because he was going to play middle linebacker on obvious run downs.
But with Timmons out of the nickel package, Hull had to fill that void. And he did that last week playing every single play the Miami defense was on the field.
Hull struggled a bit in the passing game, allowing nine catches in coverage.
But even with the Dolphins adding linebacker Stephone Anthony in a trade from the New Orleans Saints this week, don’t expect Hull’s spot in the nickel defense to change.
He remains part of Miami’s nickel defense -- one of two linebackers, along with Kiko Alonso -- on the field in passing situations.
As for Anthony, defensive coordinator Matt Burke said the team is simply trying to figure out what he can do physically (and mentally) so a role can eventually be authored for him. I wouldn’t expect him to get a lot of work Sunday at New York, barring an unforeseen circumstance.
(Warning: The Dolphins are becoming quite intimate with unforeseen circumstances the past year so there’s that).
Anthony would be a strong side linebacker in Miami’s 4-3 scheme and he admittedly has much work to do just figuring out Miami’s scheme.
“This is a different scheme,” Anthony said. “It’s two different coordinators. I’m going from the NFC South to the AFC East. It’s different.”
Not long after the NFL postponed the Dolphins first game to Nov. 19, thus wiping out the team’s scheduled bye week, Gase got to work figuring out how to give his team rest without actually having a bye week.
You’ll recall he told me "We’ll make our own bye. We'll figure it out. I'll figure it out."
Well, now I’m starting to understand elements of how Gase plans to do that: Basically, the coach is going to take one day off the table for players and put more pressure on himself and his coaching staff.
The Dolphins, which often worked a full day on Mondays after games, are going to be in and out that day during the season.
“That was probably the first thing we started doing was looking at the calendar, kind of seeing where we can make some adjustments,” Gase said Thursday. “We might lose some of these Mondays where you’re used to meeting and going through the game. It might be, ‘Let’s get in here, let’s get our lift in, let’s get our run in,’ and then send them off and maybe you make Wednesday a little longer just so we can cover what we need to from the game.
“You try to steal some days here and there if you can. There are ways to do it. You’ve just got to try and figure out what’s the right way for us.”
Last season under Gase the Dolphins did not practice during the bye week -- at all. That’s seven days they didn’t go on the field to practice.
It’s up to the Miami coaching staff to try and find at least that many days in which players are not asked to put their bodies on the line.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero