The Dolphins’ defensive line, considered one of the roster’s strengths, underwent more tumult and turnover this week, with one player arriving, another going on injured reserve and two sitting out Wednesday’s practice.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones, cut by Miami on Sept. 3, was re-signed by the Dolphins and essentially replaces Earl Mitchell, who went on injured reserve and will miss at least half the season.
“We’ll see how this plays out; I’m just frustrated for him,” coach Adam Gase said of Mitchell.
Jones started for the Patriots in 2014 but missed last season with an injury, was cut by the Dolphins on Sept. 3 and had been home training in Massachusetts.
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“It was a tough one to let him go in the first place,” Gase said. “He’s a guy that constantly does right.”
Jordan Phillips likely will replace Mitchell in the starting lineup, alongside Ndamukong Suh, and he played well Sunday in Seattle despite leaving the game twice with an ankle injury.
Phillips did not practice Wednesday but said he expects to play Sunday in New England.
Terrence Fede, who had been nursing a sprained MCL, has returned to practice and he, Julius Warmsley and Jones are available as backup defensive tackles. Defensive end Jason Jones also can play tackle.
Meanwhile, defensive end Mario Williams missed practice because he’s in the NFL’s concussion protocol. But he participated in rope drills. Center Mike Pouncey (hip) remains sidelined.
▪ Linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who played against Seattle two weeks after knee surgery, didn’t practice and “we don’t want to have any setbacks.” Gase is taking the same approach with Arian Foster (hamstring). Cornerback Xavien Howard (knee) was limited.
▪ Receiver DeVante Parker, who was limited in practice after missing Sunday’s opener, said his hamstring feels better but isn’t sure if he will play against the Patriots.
▪ The Dolphins released third-string quarterback Brandon Doughty and Gase was noncommittal about whether he would be re-signed to the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the Dolphins “added a lot of quality talent” in the offseason.
“They’re very strong up front,” he said. “They’re hard to move the ball against. Other than the long run where James White broke a tackle, we barely had 100 yards in total offense” in Miami’s 20-10 win against New England to close the 2015 regular season.
Belichick praised the two players the Dolphins acquired from Philadelphia: Linebacker Kiko Alonso “is a really a productive player,” Belichick said. “We saw him [when New England played] against Buffalo [in 2013], led the team in tackles. Great speed, range. Covers a lot of ground sideline to sideline. [Cornerback] Byron Maxwell has good ball skills. You can’t be sloppy with your routes throwing the ball against him or he will make you pay. Good instincts.”
▪ Gase said new linebacker Donald Butler “was always a guy that seemed to be reliable for [San Diego] He was a problem for us the times we faced him.”
▪ Gase said running back Jay Ajayi, who was left home from the Seattle trip, has “been engaged in meetings. The thing about him is he knows exactly what to do. He practiced hard. Trying to get the little details of things right.”
▪ Defensive end Cameron Wake had no issue with playing 29 of 82 defensive snaps Sunday: “I’m not a guy who sits home and counts plays.”