There’s a lot to chew on from the marathon chat session with Dolphins coaches Thursday. So let’s get to it:
▪ The Dolphins did not practice Wednesday, but if they had, nine players would have sat out with injury: defensive end Andre Branch (knee), guard Jermon Bushrod (foot), Xavien Howard (illness), quarterback Matt Moore (foot), center Mike Pouncey (hip), defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (knee), cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (ankle/shoulder), safety Michael Thomas (knee) and running back Damien Williams (shoulder).
In reality, however, these are the four to monitor: Bushrod, Moore, Tankersley and Williams.
All four missed Monday’s game, and seem to be in some danger of doing the same this week in Buffalo.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Tankersley was dressed for practice Thursday, but it was not clear how much he did.
“I don’t know when we’re going to get Tank back,” Adam Gase said, opening the door for Bobby McCain to start at corner against the Bills.
Williams and Bushrod remain in a wait-and-see mode. Williams was dressed for the portion of practice open to reporters Thursday. Bushrod was too. Moore, who has been ailing since the Patriots sacked him seven times three weeks ago, also practiced.
Branch and Pouncey did not. But the Dolphins have been giving their veterans rest days every week.
▪ Ndamukong Suh did something remarkable for a defensive tackle Monday: He played all 61 snaps.
“He didn’t want to come out,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said.
And because the Dolphins got off the field so well — the Patriots converted none of their of 11 third downs, much to Burke’s surprise — Suh didn’t have to.
Suh was a force, sacking Tom Brady once and hitting him twice. He also had three tackles.
But was it his best game of the year? Burke wouldn’t go that far, saying Suh always affects the game, regardless of his stat line.
▪ Speaking of Burke, he can’t hide his emotions, and they spilled out in the moments after the Dolphins’ upset win over the Patriots.
“It was four straight hours of nonstop [stress],” Burke said of his demonstrative behavior. “... I was letting out probably two weeks worth of stuff.”
(The Dolphins defense was bad when the teams met two weeks prior.)
▪ Burke prefers not to look back, and on Thursday, he wanted to keep the focus on the upcoming game.
The Bills are 10th in third-down conversions, he was quick to point out, and running back LeSean McCoy will be a handful.
“I think he’s the best in the league at making people miss,” Burke said of McCoy.
▪ Punter Matt Haack has bounced back after a rough start to the season. The rookie has pinned nine punts inside the 20 the last two weeks, according to special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi, and now has 28 for the season, ranking fifth in the league.
“He had a couple of bumps in the road a little bit,” Rizzi said. “Matt’s a really talented guy. He’s got a really good demeanor for the position. He’s starting to understand the game plan better.”
▪ Rizzi did his annual pitch for key special teams contributor Michael Thomas to make the Pro Bowl: “He’s got my vote.”
Thomas is playing through a painful knee injury, wearing a massive brace on his knee during games.
▪ Clyde Christensen is always good for a zinger or two, and the Dolphins offensive coordinator did not disappoint Monday.
As Burke, who has more facial hair than a mountain man, was leaving the press room, Christensen quipped: “Think that beard is real?”
Miami Herald sportswriter Armando Salguero contributed to this report.