Miami Dolphins

James benched after allowing costly hits

RJ Kristof compares the size of his hands with Miami Dolphins tackle Ja'Wuan James (70) as the Miami Dolphins host the Cleveland Browns in the home opener at refurbished Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, September 25, 2016.
RJ Kristof compares the size of his hands with Miami Dolphins tackle Ja'Wuan James (70) as the Miami Dolphins host the Cleveland Browns in the home opener at refurbished Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, September 25, 2016. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Even first-round picks aren’t safe with Adam Gase as coach.

Just ask Ja’Wuan James. Gase benched his starting right tackle in overtime Sunday and replaced him with Billy Turner after James surrendered two turnover-causing hits to quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

“We pulled him out,” Gase said after Miami’s 30-24 victory over Cleveland.

James added that he was not injured: “Coach [Chris] Foerster came and told me.”

For James, it was the first time in his career he came off the field for anything other than an injury. But it’s hard to blame the Dolphins for doing so.

James’ struggles began in the first half.

After easily beating James in pass protection, Cleveland’s Tyrone Holmes blasted Tannehill just as he was throwing, causing the ball to float. Browns corner Briean Boddy-Calhoun picked it off and ran 27 yards to the end zone.

But that was just prelude to when James surrendered the Dolphins’ only sack of the game at the worst possible time.

The Dolphins had the ball at their own 35 with 26 seconds left when Corey Lemonier zoomed past James to sack and strip Tannehill, and then recover the fumble. It set up what would have been a game-winning field goal, which Cody Parkey ultimately missed.

“I didn’t really get to see it, but I think he caught my hands and then ran [by me] and did a good job,” James said of Lemonier’s sack.

Turner, who lost out to Jermon Bushrod in the Dolphins’ right guard battle, took over for James in the two overtime drives.

“It took me a second to get into a [rhythm], but I handled by business and we came out with a victory,” Turner said.

INJURY UPDATES

▪ Tight end Jordan Cameron left Sunday’s game in the first half with a head injury and did not return. Cameron underwent the concussion protocol, although the Dolphins had not determined after the game whether he was actually concussed.

“They were saying that they were still evaluating Jordan,” Gase said.

Here’s why this is alarming: If Cameron did sustain a concussion, it would be at least his fourth in as many years.

▪ Three other Dolphins left Sunday’s game because of injury and did not return: center Anthony Steen (ankle) and linebackers Jelani Jenkins (thigh) and Koa Misi (neck).

With Steen out and Mike Pouncey inactive because of a hip injury, Kraig Urbik finished the game at center.

If Urbik would have gotten injured, Turner would have been the Dolphins’ emergency center.

THIS AND THAT

▪ Former Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson rushed for 69 yards on 10 carries in his return to the stadium that he called home in college.

“I was excited to get home and play in front of my family and friends,” Johnson said. “I wish we would have come out with a ‘W,’ but I enjoyed it.”

▪ The first pass ever thrown at Hard Rock Stadium (at least with that name and a canopy over the field) was from Tannehill to Kenny Stills. It was intercepted by Jamar Taylor, who spent three mostly frustrating seasons with the Dolphins before getting traded to the Browns on draft weekend in 2016.

▪ Community leaders, local youth, coaches, law enforcement officials and members of the military gathered for a community tailgate put on by owner Stephen Ross’s Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE).

The event was the result of a town hall meeting between the four Dolphins players who kneeled during the playing of the national anthem in Week 1 (Arian Foster, Jenkins, Stills and Michael Thomas) and law enforcement officials and community leaders. All but Jenkins kneeled again Sunday to protest the treatment of African Americans by police.

Adam H. Beasley

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