Miami Dolphins

Rey who? Dolphins’ run defense A-OK without exiled Maualuga

The Dolphins’ defense was excellent the second half — until it wasn’t.
The Dolphins’ defense was excellent the second half — until it wasn’t. ctrainor@miaiherald.com

No Rey Maualuga, no problem for a Dolphins run defense that bounced back in a big way Sunday.

Six days after allowed a staggering 294 yards on the ground, the Dolphins limited the the Buccaneers to 53 on 24 carries (an average of just 2.2 per).

Chase Allen started in the middle with Maualuga off the team. The Dolphins cut Maualuga while he was still locked up on battery charges; Miami cops say he choked a nightclub employee over a disputed $40 bar tab.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase said the decision to move on from Maualuga “wasn't very hard,” and that Allen got reps with the first-team defense in the days leading up to the game.

Maualuga’s arrest came a little over 24 hours before Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, forcing the Dolphins make a last-minute change at linebacker for the second time this season. Allen started in place of Lawrence Timmons in Week 2 because Timmons went AWOL the night before.

If Maualuga’s Dolphins teammates were angry that he was allegedly involved in an altercation at breakfast time Saturday, just hours before a team walk-through, they didn’t let on Sunday.

Miami Dolphin head coach Adam Gase speaks to the media after the Dolphins are defeated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Hard Rock Stadium on Sun., Nov. 19, 2017.​

“I don't know the details,” Dolphins defensive end Cam Wake said “I don't know what's been going on to say whether he's let us down or not, but shoelace, hamstring, all of the above, when you've got to make a change the day before the game, it's going to be difficult. But I have faith in the guys.”

Added safety T.J. McDonald, who said he found out about Maualuga’s arrest Sunday morning: “It's tough on the guys who haven't practiced that position all week, but that's why you have to take mental reps. You never know what's going to happen. You never know when your number's going to be called. Stay ready for next man up.”

▪  Wide receiver Kenny Stills had a career-high 180 yards on seven catches Sunday. It was the seventh-most by a Dolphins player ever.

▪  Damien Williams, who started at running back, had 102 all-purpose yards Sunday on just 11 touches.

▪  Three Dolphins players left the game due to injury and did not return: quarterback Jay Cutler, guard Jermon Bushrod (foot) and linebacker Stephone Anthony (knee).

Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry talk about their loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs.

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