Jamar Taylor had the starting cornerback job literally in his hands but might have seen it ripped away by his old nemesis: an injury.
A series after Taylor picked off Cam Newton and nearly returned it for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday, he left the game with a quadriceps injury. The Dolphins listed Taylor as questionable to return, but he never did.
It’s the third time in as many seasons Taylor has had an injury setback. As a rookie, he dealt with a sports hernia; he went on injured reserve late in Year Two with a shoulder injury.
Taylor started Saturday night’s preseason game, as did his top competition, Brice McCain. Brent Grimes was a healthy scratch; Dolphins coaches wanted to see how the players behind him looked.
Surprisingly, Zack Bowman was the first corner off the bench. When the Dolphins went to their nickel package, Taylor lined up in the slot, and Bowman worked the boundary.
Will Davis worked with the second team and quickly became the target for Panthers backup quarterback Derek Anderson. He surrendered completions on consecutive plays. Davis, who might be on the bubble to make the team, would presumably see his prospects improve if Taylor’s injury is at all serious.
Walt Aikens might ultimately be Louis Delmas’ replacement, but he needs to play better than he did Saturday.
Aikens started at safety, but looked lost at times in coverage. He failed to pick up receiver Corey Brown on an underneath route while in zone coverage. Brown was wide open and would have had a first-down completion if Brown hadn’t dropped the ball.
After two series, Thomas replaced Aikens in the starting lineup. They played together once Reshad Jones’ night was done, and each had significant plays in the Dolphins’ goal-line stand.
Coach Joe Philbin — usually as good as it gets with challenges — cost his team points with the red flag.
Philbin reviewed a Damien Williams’ run ruled out at the 1-yard line. Philbin believed Williams got into the end zone. Instead, the replay showed Williams fumbled the ball into the end zone before going out of bounds, resulting in a lost fumble and a touchback for the Panthers.
“Great decision,” Philbin deadpanned on CBS-4 at halftime. “You learn from your mistakes.”
ISSUES AT TACKLE
The Dolphins’ already tenuous situation at tackle got a little dicier.
Jason Fox left the game with a head injury. He was later evaluated for a concussion, and although the results were not made public, the Dolphins made a point to announce he would not return.
If Fox is not available for next week’s game against the Falcons (and Branden Albert isn’t yet ready after last year’s ACL surgery), the Dolphins might have to make the least worst decision at left tackle.
Options include Aundrey Walker, Donald Hawkins, Dallas Thomas and Jeff Linkenbach.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Dolphins players who did not dress Saturday: Grimes, Delmas, WR DeVante Parker (foot), RB Jay Ajayi (hamstring), S Don Jones (shoulder), DE Olivier Vernon (unspecified), LB Koa Misi (calf), LB Jordan Tripp (ankle), Albert (knee) and WR Greg Jennings (elbow).
▪ Other lineup changes: Rishard Matthews for Jennings, Terrence Fede for Vernon and Kelvin Sheppard for Misi.
▪ Matt Moore threw an interception to Teddy Williams late in the first half.
▪ LaMike James (his preference for his first name) again handled return duties instead of Jarvis Landry, taking a kickoff back 31 yards and a punt back 21 yards in the first half.
▪ Mike Pouncey, Reshad Jones and Brandon Fields served as team captains.