Miami Dolphins

Rex Ryan once tried (and failed) to hire Dan Campbell away from Miami Dolphins

Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell looks on during the third quarter of Miami’s game against the Houston Texans at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, October 25, 2015.
Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell looks on during the third quarter of Miami’s game against the Houston Texans at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, October 25, 2015. adiaz@miamiherald.com

During his time as coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan wanted to steal Dan Campbell away from Miami, but the Dolphins declined the Jets an interview.

That’s according to Ryan, who faces Campbell for the first time Sunday when the Dolphins and Ryan’s Bills tangle in Western New York.

“He’s certainly a guy that’s got a great reputation throughout the league,” Ryan said. “I wanted to bring that physical passion to my football team.”

Ryan joked that the muscle-bound Campbell is one of few coaches that he couldn’t “whip” in a fight, adding: “He’s a big dude. I’m 52 years old, I’d like to see 53, so I think I’ll avoid that one.”

Campbell has built a cult following with his innovative ways to inject competition into practice. The latest wrinkle: He had some of his coaches race Wednesday (although would not say who).

As for Dolphins football czar Mike Tannenbaum, who was the Jets’ general manager during much of Ryan’s time in New York, Ryan was just as complimentary:

“As a general manager, he was absolutely tremendous,” Ryan said. “The thing Mike Tannebaum’s guilty of is he wants to win in the worst way and is as competitive of a guy as I’ve ever been around. He would take it personally if he couldn’t get somebody.

“How good is he? We coaxed Jason Taylor out of Miami for a year, so he’s pretty darn good at what he does.”

JAMES IN CAST

Tackle Ja’Wuan James zipped around the Dolphins’ locker room on a knee scooter Wednesday, but it wasn’t being lazy.

James had a hard cast on his left foot — the clearest sign yet that he isn’t playing for the Dolphins any time soon.

Not surprisingly, the organization ruled James out for Sunday’s game. Jason Fox will start at right tackle in his place.

James injured his big toe in the Dolphins’ blowout loss to the Patriots last week.

“Not really sure what happened, but just went to plant in the ground and I couldn’t feel my foot,” James said. “I just went to the sideline, and they told me to go in for X-rays.”

He has since had an MRI, too, and the most charitable time line for his return is three to four weeks.

INJURY UPDATES

▪ Quarterback Matt Moore practiced fully Wednesday after needing outpatient surgery for a broken nose.

How he broke the nose defies logic: Wide receiver Kenny Stills accidentally elbowed him in the face while taking a handoff in practice — even though Moore was wearing a helmet with a face mask.

“I’ve got sharp elbows,” Stills joked.

Said Moore: “It’s kind of a one in a million deal, but that’s all it was.”

▪ RB Jay Ajayi (ribs) practiced fully, but Campbell was noncommittal when asked if Ajayi would be activated off short-term injured reserve this week.

▪ Five Dolphins players were limited in their participation Wednesday: LB Neville Hewitt (hamstring); S Reshad Jones (shoulder); CB Brice McCain (knee); LB Koa Misi (knee); LB Spencer Paysinger (shoulder); and RB Damien Williams (thumb).

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