We’ve seen this movie before. And Byron Maxwell might not like what comes next.
For the second year in a row, the Dolphins are considering benching their highest-paid cornerback.
Maxwell struggled greatly in Philadelphia last week, both in practice and in games, and Adam Gase acknowledged Sunday that the Dolphins could make a chance at corner.
“All options are up,” Gase said. “We're going to play the best guys.”
Maxwell surrendered at least three catches in the first half of Thursday’s preseason game, including a 50-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in which he blew a coverage.
His performance in Philly has prompted the coaching staff to make a change, and Alterraun Verner would presumably be the player elevated to the starting lineup.
Gase suggested that the competition will bleed into the fourth preseason game, which most starting players skip.
“There was a couple of things that, looking back on, that I wish he had done different,” Gase said of Maxwell. “But that’s the whole preseason process of, we gotta clean things up, keep competing and finding ways to get better and taking a look at each play individually. That's where it really goes back to coaching and players taking coaching. We're always trying to get better. We're always trying to find ways to correct the mistakes we made.”
Gase added: “You don't want to make the same mistake twice. That's the best part of the preseason -- they don't count right now. We have another opportunity this Thursday. Today being one, but we have three practices this week we have a chance to get better and correct some mistakes. When you do make mistakes in the game, you have to learn from them.”
Verner might end up being one of the Dolphins’ best signings of the year. The 2013 Pro Bowler was cut by the Buccaneers in February, and remained on the market until the start of training camp. He signed a one-year, $1 million contract in late July, and has been impressive ever since.
“Consistency,” Gase said, when asked what he’s seen in Verner. “He knows what to do. He has been a pro since the day he got here. Competitive. He just is always as tight as you need him to be, as close to hands on the ball. It just makes it really tough for the quarterback. I really like what I see from him. I know the defensive staff has as well. For signing him as late as we did, we feel really good with where he’s at right now.”
If not for Tony Lippett’s season-ending Achilles tendon injury, Maxwell might be in danger of getting cut with the way he’s played. He’s earning $8.5 million this year, and all but $3 million of that sum would be wiped from the Dolphins’ salary cap if they cut him.
The Dolphins turned to Lippett after Maxwell struggled in the first four weeks of the 2016 season, but Maxwell got his starting job back after Xavien Howard hurt his knee.
Maxwell’s mistake on the Smith touchdown left safety Reshad Jones exposed, and after Carson Wentz delivered the scoring pass, Jones turned and demonstrably complained to his teammate.
When asked if he was comfortable with Jones’ behavior, Gase responded:
“If I ever have an issue with anybody's reaction, I'm going to speak to them on my own. I'm not going to make that a public deal.”