Brian Flores knows exactly what it takes to go up against Frank Gore on game day.
After all, the Miami Dolphins coach did just that back in his college days.
The year was 2003, and Flores’ Boston College Eagles were facing Gore’s Miami Hurricanes. UM won the game 33-14. Gore, a junior, ran for 74 yards on 16 carries in the win.
Flores, a senior linebacker, had one of the best games of his collegiate career, recording eight tackles (including two against Gore) and broke up a first-quarter pass intended for Gore.
“I’ll put it on my highlight reel,” Flores said of the pass breakup.
Flores’ playing career ended after that season. He became a scouting assistant with the New England Patriots in 2004 and worked his way up Bill Belichick’s coaching staff over the next decade and a half before taking over as the Dolphins’ coach this year.
Sixteen years later, Gore is still playing and is well on his way to a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Gore ranks fourth in NFL history in career rushing yards (15,081) and needs just 188 more yards to tie Barry Sanders for third.
Miami will face him on Sunday when the Dolphins play the Bills at New Era Field.
“I tackled one of the greatest backs to ever play in the National Football League,” Flores said. “I’ll take it. Now, hopefully, we can, as a team, tackle him this weekend.”
Gore, 36, enters the week ranked 18th in the NFL with 333 rushing yards this season. His 4.4 yards per carry rank eighth among running backs with at least 75 carries.
“He is one of the best to ever play the game,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. “For the younger guys, in terms of whether they were kids watching him and wondering, ‘OK, now I’ve got to go play him.’ This man’s still got it now.”
Gore ran for 722 yards in 14 games with the Dolphins last season.
“He’s not only [good] talent-wise, but his mental game is also up to par,” Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker said. “He might have gotten older, but his mind is still working at 110 percent. That’s really what separates him. He’s smart. He’s smarter than a lot of running backs that you have in the league.”
Flores said wide receiver DeVante Parker has turned into one of the Dolphins’ more dependable players this season.
The fifth-year wide receiver has a team-leading 229 receiving yards and has a touchdown catch in back-to-back games.
“He had a couple of drops early in the year that were big, and he’s kind of cleaned that up to a degree,” Flores said. “He made some big catches for us. He made a big one for us last week and the week before. He’s starting to string them together. He’s out at practice every day. He’s getting better. He’s improving and you see it kind of coming to fruition on the field. I’ve been pleased with the trajectory he’s on. It’s still early in the season and, hopefully, we continue to go in that trajectory and he continues to play well.”
Center Daniel Kilgore (knee), safety Rashad Jones (chest) and defensive end Avery Moss (ankle) did not practice on Thursday.
Eight other players — including cornerback Xavien Howard, receivers Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson, and running back Mark Walton — were limited.