The Dolphins, for the first time, implemented a policy requiring players to stand for the National Anthem or stay behind in the locker-room if they choose not to do so.
Three Dolphins players – Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills – opted to stay in the locker-room during the anthem in the minutes before Sunday’s Dolphins-Titans game at Hard Rock Stadium.
Coach Adam Gase said he made the decision on the new policy after consulting with players.
Owner Stephen Ross, speaking at a pre-game tailgate event for his Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) program, said President Donald Trump has "changed that whole paradigm" of protesting during the anthem into a statement on patriotism.
Two weeks ago, Trump used a derogatory term to describe players who kneel during the anthem and said they should be fired.
Ross says players protesting social issues have been perceived by the public to be protesting the flag and patriotism.
"Trump has made [standing for the anthem] about patriotism," Ross said. "It's so important if that's what the country is looking at to look at it differently.... It's a different dialogue. Whenever you're dealing with the flag, you're dealing with something different."
In the wake of Trump’s comments, Michael Thomas, Julius Thomas and Stills had kneeled during the anthem for the Jets and Saints games.
Stills and Michael Thomas said NFL players have had conversations with the NFL and believe the league will help their efforts to make a stand on social issues that were at the root of their kneeling.
"The league has heard us and they wanted to work with us," Thomas said.
Said Stills: "We’ll continue to focus on work in the community. We’ve got some things in the works with the NFL."
Receiver DeVante Parker departed for good with an ankle injury in the first quarter and left the stadium on crutches. Gase said he did not know the severity of the injury, which is believed to be a sprain.
He will have an MRI on Monday, says Fox's Jay Glazer.
Jakeem Grant assumed a larger role in his absence but had a potential reception dislodged near the Titans end zone.
Grant and Jarvis Landry alternated punt returns, with Landry averaging seven yards on four returns and Grant 6.3 on three.
• Rey Maualuga, who had missed the first three games with a hamstring injury, replaced Mike Hull as the starter at middle linebacker and had five tackles.
"He gives us attitude and a physical player," linebacker Lawrence Timmons said.
• Reshad Jones’ touchdown on a fumble recovery gives him four as a Dolphin, tied for second most in club history for defensive players behind Jason Taylor’s nine. Dick Anderson, Terrell Buckley and Zach Thomas also have four.
• Anthony Fasano started at tight end in place of Julius Thomas, but Thomas played a lot.
• Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who missed the past two games with an ankle injury, was inactive but said he could have played. "They felt it was better for me not to go," he said.
• Cornerback Byron Maxwell, who lost his starting job more than a week ago, also was inactive, though he was believed to be healthy enough to play.
Other inactives:rookie defensive backs Maurice Smith and Torry McTyer, linebacker Stephone Anthony, rookie guard Isaac Asiata and veteran offensive tackle Sam Young.