Three Miami Dolphins players become eligible to practice and play in games for the first time this week, but the team isn’t expecting immediate returns from any of them.
Cornerback Chris Culliver is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list and defensive end Dion Jordan and linebacker Zach Vigil can come off the NFi list.
But Jordan isn’t ready to practice after a second knee procedure and the Dolphins will be cautious with Culliver and Vigil, coach Adam Gase said.
Gase said Culliver and Vigil will be able to go through individual drills this week, but there’s no timetable for Jordan.
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“This is week to week at this point with all these guys,” Gase said. “We’re in no rush. We want to make sure those guys feel as good as they can before we actually activate anybody.”
Culliver has spent the past 11 months recovering and rehabbing after a serious knee injury sustained in a Thanksgiving practice for the Redskins last year. He said he expects to participate in practice this week but isn’t sure if he will be limited.
Though he’s eligible to play immediately, a more likely return for Culliver will come at some point after the bye week, which follows Sunday’s game against Buffalo.
“I’m definitely excited about coming back,” Culliver said. “The knee feels good. Cutting, moving, it definitely feels good. No limitations. Everything else is feeling game of football again. I will definitely be out there [this week]. I'm excited to be playing in Vance's defense.”
Culliver was limited to six appearances with the Redskins last season but started all of them.
Vigil, sidelined since the start of training camp with a back injury, said he feels “great” and is eager to contribute “any way they need me.”
The Dolphins’ top two tight ends are now both in the concussion protocol, with Dion Sims joining Jordan Cameron.
Gase was non-committal about whether the team would consider promoting practice squad tight end Thomas Duarte, the team’s seventh-round draft pick, or add another tight end as depth behind Marquies Gray and Dominique Jones.
• Gase, on Jay Ajayi, who ran for 204 yards Sunday: “He did [Sunday] what he had shown us all through the spring. He had done it in training camp practices. He had a rough 7 days, 10 days between the last preseason game and the first one,” when he was left home for the opener at Seattle.
But “every other part of it, he’s been the same guy,” Gase said. “[Sunday] was a good example of letting him get in a rhythm. He’s a big man, running downhill at a good rate. He can break tackles. When we get him going, we just try to keep getting him the ball.”
• Asked why the running game could continue to succeed, Gase said: “Because of the five guys up front. With our five starting offensive linemen finally getting to play, it made a big difference.”
• Gase credited receiver Kenny Stills for suggesting a 39-yard pass to Jarvis Landry that set up a Dolphins touchdown late in the first half.
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