There are myriad reasons for the Dolphins’ turnaround the past two games, but here are two of them: left tackle Branden Albert and defensive end Andre Branch.
Branch has started the past two games, replacing Jason Jones, and collected a combined six tackles and two sacks in those games, while doing a terrific job setting the edge in the Buffalo game.
Coordinator Vance Joseph cites Branch’s and Cam Wake’s energy and overall effectiveness as a key to the defensive turnaround, and Branch is justifying the one-year, $3 million deal signed last offseason.
Energy is “definitely what they want me to bring to the team and that's what I will always bring,” Branch said. “That's not a talent thing - bringing effort - and that's what I've been doing since playing football. That's a part of me, energy and always having fun with it.”
On Wednesday, he cavorted around the locker-room, dancing to music and interacting with players on both offense and defense.
“You see him put on some good music and dance, and that’s the same way he plays,” linebacker Donald Butler said. “With a lot of energy.”
Branch, a second-round pick in 2012 who spent his first four seasons with Jacksonville, started nine games and appeared in 13 for the Jaguars last season, and the Dolphins liked what they saw on tape – especially, as Joseph said – his ability to produce occasional plays that made them say, “Boy, he’s special.”
Starting again, after opening the season as a reserve, “is great,” Branch said. “It's an honor to start in this league.”
He said Joseph’s defense allows him “to show my strengths. I’m very athletic and can run sideline to sideline.”
Albert, meanwhile, has played very well since returning from an illness that sidelined him for the Tennessee game.
“I am doing my job,” he said.
Getting in better shape has helped.
He said he lost 25 pounds this past offseason – he has since put a little of it back on -- and it has helped his “knees and joints” feel lighter.
Albert played at 328 last season and is now at 312. “It has helped with flexibility, movement and durability, staying fresh [late in games],” he said.
“I created my own gym in my garage, bought a Stairmaster and Elliptical. I hopped on the Stairmaster 45 minutes after every workout in the morning and at night” during the offseason.
• Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, eligible to return for the Nov. 13 San Diego game, said Wednesday: “I feel good. I’m just ready to be back out there.”
He did some light work on Monday, the first day he was eligible to practice since going on injured reserve early in the season, and said he is “going to use this week to get back in football shape.”
• CBS is sending Dolphins-Jets to 14 percent of the country, with No. 3 team Greg Gumbel and Trent Green on the call. Here’s a TV map.