Take a look around the AFC East with less than two weeks before the start of the season, and the perennially struggling Dolphins don’t really have it so rough anymore.
The Buffalo Bills already are down to their third-string quarterback, and the New York Jets are generating more drama than a bad reality TV show. The turnover and turmoil in New York (both upstate and in the city) makes Miami’s preseason seem stable by comparison.
“I’m focused really on our team right here and what we’re doing,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “I’m not too concerned about anyone else. I want to finish off the preseason and take it from there.”
But, of course, Philbin is paying attention. He and quarterback Ryan Tannehill said all of the politically correct things Monday when asked about the collective misfortunes of their division rivals, but there’s no denying that injuries to starting quarterbacks in the AFC East have suddenly improved the Dolphins chances in the division.
The Dolphins already were optimistic that this might be their season of resurgence. Now, by chance, the expectations are growing.
In Buffalo, projected starting quarterback Kevin Kolb is out with concussion-like symptoms and Kolb’s backup, EJ Manuel, is recovering from knee surgery.
At the Jets’ headquarters in Florham Park, N.J., coach Rex Ryan is under fire for a shoulder injury sustained by starting quarterback Mark Sanchez.
What does that mean for the Dolphins? Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe summed it up best when he said, “Anytime you lose a quarterback that’s a terrible day and that’s a tragedy.”
For perspective, just imagine where the Dolphins would be if Tannehill went down. For that reason, and considering what happened to Sanchez late in the Jets’ third preseason game, the Dolphins could rest Tannehill entirely on Thursday when the Dolphins play the Saints at Sun Life Stadium in the final game of the preseason.
“There’s always risk,” Philbin said. “You know in this game when you decide to put a player out there there’s the potential for something could happen that you don’t want to have happen.
“You don’t want any player to get hurt at any point in time. So, yeah, we’ll have to weigh some of that.”
• Backup cornerback Will Davis was not at practice Monday, presumably because of an injury, but Philbin would not disclose the reason for his player’s absence.
Davis’ agent did not return a phone call after learning that Davis had missed practice.
• Philbin on the special teams blunders by punt returner Marcus Thigpen during Saturday’s loss: “It was a glaring loss the other night. … We can’t tolerate those mistakes.”
Thigpen fumbled away one punt and also failed to properly alert teammate Nolan Carroll, a special teams blocker, of a punt’s proximity. The punt hit Carroll in the helmet and the Buccaneers recovered.
• The Dolphins must cut their roster from 84 players to 75 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Philbin’s philosophy on breaking the news to players that they’ve been waived: “There’s not a ton to discuss — just typically thank them for their contributions and the way they’ve acted on and off the field and wish them the best of luck.”
• While Lamar Miller looks to be the starting running back for Week 1, Philbin was noncommittal on the position. Asked if he had decided on a starter, Philbin said, “Not necessarily.”