Miami Dolphins

‘Selfish’ Wilkins contrite after ejection. Is his lack of self control a concern?

Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins’s young career has been more notable for his silly, costly lack of self-discipline after the whistle than any play he’s made.

Three weeks after drawing his coach’s ire for a dumb unnecessary roughness penalty, the rookie first-round pick made an even more egregious error.

On Sunday, he threw a punch at Bills tackle Cody Ford on the second play of the game, earning one of the fastest ejections in NFL history.

That left the Dolphins without one of their most talented young defenders and with just four active defensive linemen.

And it left Wilkins with nothing but time to think about his troubling pattern of mistakes.

“I was extremely selfish,” Wilkins said before boarding the team bus post-game Sunday. “This is the ultimate team sport. It’s not just about me. I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed in myself about something, especially something that was in my control.

“Really, really shouldn’t have happened,” he continued. “There’s no place for it in this game and that’s not the standard I hold myself to because I just love this game, I try to respect this game as much as possible, play it as competitively as possible. This game was meant to be competitive, not combative. I really let myself down and my teammates down in just a selfish moment so early in the game.”

Wilkins has twice in three games been unable to control his emotions in ways that were detrimental to his team. He suplexed Chargers running back Austin Ekeler while making a tackle in Week 4, earning not only a 15-yard penalty but a seat on the bench the rest of the game.

But on Sunday, his very early, very avoidable mistake was far costlier.

“We only dress 46 guys,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “When you lose one right off the bat, it puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the group. That’s part of playing with poise and playing with discipline. So did things change? We try to make it not change but we had to do some things with groupings. What are we doing on goal line? What are doing on short yardage? What are we doing on third down? We’ve got backups at every position, but to start the game like that is not what you’re looking for.”

Divorce near?

The Dolphins continue to engage multiple teams interested in trading for running back Kenyan Drake.

And last week, following a flurry of stories about Drake being available, the Dolphins fielded more calls about Drake than they had at any time previously, according to an NFL source familiar with the situation.

Despite this apparent interest, Drake is not exactly doing a lot to improve his value.

Drake carried the football six times for 22 yards on Sunday in a 31-21 Miami Dolphins loss to the Buffalo Bills. Drake gained 11 of those yards with less than 30 seconds to play as the Dolphins were trying to run the ball out of the shadow of their end zone. He caught two pass for 11 yards.

The Herald reported last week that the Dolphins are not actively shopping Drake and the player hasn’t gone so far as to request a trade. But the attention on the matter has made it more likely the team moves on Drake before the October 29 trade deadline.

Odds and ends

Cornerback Xavien Howard has not played since Week 4 with what the team describes as a knee injury. Flores was hopeful Howard would play Sunday, but the team decided to sit him. That left Miami without their two highest paid players, who both play in the secondary. Reshad Jones (chest) was also held out.

With center Daniel Kilgore (knee) out, the Dolphins were already thin on the offensive line. But things got worse during the game. Both right guard Shaq Calhoun (illness) and tackle J’Marcus Webb (leg) had to leave at points Sunday, so all seven active Dolphins linemen played, including reserves Isaiah Prince and Chris Reed.

The Dolphins successfully converted a fake field goal Sunday, and punter/holder Matt Haack did nearly all the hard work himself. He moved the pile on a keeper, picking up two yards on fourth-and-1.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday became the 46th player in NFL history to throw for 30,000 career passing yards.

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Adam Beasley has covered the Dolphins for the Miami Herald since 2012, and has worked for the newspaper since 2006. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and has written about sports professionally since 1996.
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Armando Salguero has covered the Miami Dolphins and the NFL since 1990, so longer than many players on the current roster have been alive and since many coaches on the team were in middle school. He was a 2016 APSE Top 3 columnist nationwide. He is one of 48 Pro Football Hall of Fame voters. He is an Associated Press All-Pro and awards voter. He’s covered Dolphins games in London, Berlin, Mexico City and Tokyo. He has covered 25 Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, and the Olympics.