Miami Dolphins

Quinton Coples happy to be with Miami Dolphins — and to be a defensive end again

Said new Dolphins pass-rusher Quinton Coples about facing his former team, the Jets, on Sunday: “It brings chills to me to be able to go back and face them.”
Said new Dolphins pass-rusher Quinton Coples about facing his former team, the Jets, on Sunday: “It brings chills to me to be able to go back and face them.” AP

Signed Tuesday then sealed and delivered to the Dolphins on Wednesday morning, Quinton Coples barely knows his coaches’ names, let alone the Dolphins’ playbook.

But he knows the broad strokes. Miami runs the 4-3. And Coples, a failed standup linebacker with the Jets, will play with his hands in the dirt.

“It makes me happy,” Coples said Wednesday. “A lot.”

If Coples can come close to realizing the great promise that convinced then-Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum to draft him 16th overall in 2012, the Dolphins will be just as happy.

“He’s long, he is athletic, and he gives us not only depth but some versatility,” Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell said. “What we know about him is if you put him in base [defense], he’s going to be able to set the edge for you.”

And the Dolphins, who on Wednesday began preparing to — ironically enough — face the Jets team that cut Coples two days before, plan to use their new asset immediately.

Campbell said he expects Coples to play Sunday, and the team’s actions spoke even louder. Chris McCain, who had played rush end since Cameron Wake’s season-ending Achilles injury, returned to the linebackers’ meeting room Wednesday.

The implication: Coples will likely be taking McCain’s snaps going forward.

“If you can’t already tell, it can be pretty frustrating,” McCain said when asked about not having a set position. “I just got to keep on striving man. I’m trying my best to be as productive as I can be when they put me in different positions. I feel like I’m kind of helping out, but then I keep getting thrown around, so I don’t really know what to expect next.”

Adam Beasley previews Sunday's Dolphins game at the New York Jets, where new Miami DE Quinton Coples likely will face his former team. Video by Charles Trainor Jr. / Miami Herald Staff.

Here’s what Coples can expect — this week at least: For his new coaches to pump him for whatever information he has on his old ones.

“They have some knowledge on what you do,” Bowles said before adding, “as far as the whole game plan, that’s a little bit different.”

Said Coples: “It brings chills to me to be able to go back and face them this Sunday.”

But if Coples wants a future in Miami, he needs to be more than a one-week data dump. The last six games will be an audition for 2016, when Coples is due a fifth-year contract option of $7.8 million — guaranteed in the case of injury.

That means the Dolphins are assuming some risk over the season’s final month and a half. If Coples sustains a catastrophic injury, they would be forced to pay him.

“We did our homework,” Campbell said. “There again, any athlete could get hurt at any time, but we felt good enough about this decision to take a shot on him, and the athlete, we believe in him.”

Coples is determined to justify that faith. He sees this tumultuous past few days as a chance to hit the reset button on a career that hasn’t met expectations.

Drafted to rush the passer, he has just 16.5 sacks in 56 career games, including none this season. Coples wasn’t surprised by the Jets’ decision to cut him Monday; Bowles had phased him out of the game plan weeks earlier.

“I wasn’t playing; I was on the bench,” Coples said when asked to explain his lack of productivity this season. “They benched me for whatever reasons. I still don’t know.”

He then added: “It’s all cool, all part of the business. [On Sunday,] I’m going to go up, shake a few of the guys’ hands that I still keep in contact with them, and go to the locker room and celebrate the win.”


▪ Koa Misi (abdomen) returned to practice Wednesday after missing Sunday’s game, but fellow linebacker Jelani Jenkins (ankle) remained sidelined. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry (knee) and left tackle Branden Albert (non-injury) got the day off for rest, but both are expected to play Sunday.

▪ Right tackle Ja’Wuan James, who has missed the past three games with a toe injury, is getting closer to a return. The walking boot is no longer on his left foot and Campbell said James’ recovery is “going well. … We’re hoping this thing can progress pretty fast.”

▪ Six Dolphins were limited in their participation Wednesday: Misi, S Walt Aikens (ankle), S Reshad Jones (pectoral), CB Brice McCain (knee), LB Spencer Paysinger (neck) and LB Kelvin Sheppard (hamstring).

▪ Bill Lazor insisted that this is not a lost year for DeVante Parker, who has just four catches in his rookie season. “I feel like he’s ready to go in the game and play. … I am not panicking that anything is lost. It can be any day when it all shows up.”

▪ Dolphins players and coaches distributed 500 Thanksgiving dinners to families in need Wednesday.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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