Miami Dolphins

Dolphins name Tankersley starting cornerback

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, left, scores a touchdown against Miami Dolphins cornerback Cordrea Tankersley during the second half of Sunday’s game at Wembley Stadium in London.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, left, scores a touchdown against Miami Dolphins cornerback Cordrea Tankersley during the second half of Sunday’s game at Wembley Stadium in London. AP

Dolphins rookie Cordrea Tankersley was solid in his first NFL game, and first start, on Sunday against the Saints, and coach Adam Gase announced Monday that he’s the new starting cornerback opposite Xavien Howard.

Tankersley’s play Sunday “was good,” Gase said. “It was what we were hoping for.”

Gase said he did not believe Howard’s shoulder injury, sustained late in Sunday’s game, is a longterm issue but “we’ll make an evaluation throughout the week.”

Former starter Byron Maxwell was inactive against the Saints because of a hamstring injury sustained in warmups before the game, but Tankersley was going to start the Saints game regardless. He was told mid-week that his playing time would increase.

TIMMONS THRIVES

The Dolphins didn’t ease linebacker Lawrence Timmons back into the lineup after his return from suspension Sunday. Timmons joined linebacker Kiko Alonso and safety Nate Allen as the only Dolphins players to play all 74 defensive snaps against New Orleans.

Timmons had six tackles and two quarterback hurries and allowed just two of five passes thrown against him to be caught for 19 yards. Pro Football Focus graded him 13th among all linebackers in Week 4.

“I can do better,” he said, adding that he’s still working on his conditioning after missing two weeks.

But Gase said Timmons “did exactly what we were hoping for. Gave everything he had, flying around the field, got his hands on balls, made tackles. Did what we thought he would do.”

The Dolphins believe Timmons will help them in coverage, an area where Mike Hull was repeatedly victimized in his two games starting.

“I've been doing it for a while,” he said of covering backs and tight ends. “That's one of my [strengths].”

Timmons felt “joy” simply to play again after missing the opener after going AWOL and then being suspended for the second game.

“To be back out there is fun,” he said. “This is a beautiful thing being on this stage.”

Timmons relinquished guaranteed money for next season as part of his deal to return to the team. That would significantly lower his cap number, from $7.2 million to $2.7 million, if he’s cut before next season.

With Timmons returning, Hull ended up playing 25 snaps and Chase Allen just three against the Saints. Stephone Anthony did not play and Rey Maualuga was inactive as he works his way back from a hamstring injury.

RUN DEFENSE BETTER

This is encouraging: The Dolphins are allowing just 3.1 yards per rush, fourth-best in the league and much-improved from last year’s league-worst 4.8. The Dolphins are allowing 77.7 yards per game on the ground, which ranks fifth best.

“Making teams one dimensional is so important,” said safety Reshad Jones, who missed the final 10 games last season with a shoulder injury. “It was a huge emphasis all summer. Last year, we got away from it.”

▪  Per PFF, Jones was Miami’s highest-graded player on the defense (81.2), particularly in run defense. From run a defense standpoint, PF ranks Jones fifth among all safeties this season.

▪  First-round defensive end Charles Harris had his best game Sunday, with two quarterback hurries and a QB hit in 35 snaps and PFF ranked him ninth for all edge rushers in Week 4.

▪  Gase offered no reason for Jarvis Landry replacing Jakeem Grant on punt returns Sunday, saying only: “Would you want him back there once in a while?”

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