Barry Jackson

Dolphins’ Williams back on field after concussion

The Dolphins are hopeful of having defensive end Mario Williams back from a concussion in time for Sunday’s game.
The Dolphins are hopeful of having defensive end Mario Williams back from a concussion in time for Sunday’s game. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Defensive end Mario Williams practiced for the first time since leaving the Dolphins’ opener with a concussion, raising hopes he would be available for Sunday’s game at New England.

The Dolphins went into Friday’s practice expecting Williams to play Sunday barring a setback. He was listed as questionable on the injury report.

Coach Adam Gase said after practice that Williams is not yet out of the NFL’s concussion protocol system.

Williams had a sack against Seattle and “played very, very well when he was in the game,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “I enjoyed playing next to him. He obviously helped me out on cleaning up a sack on one particular play.”

With the NFL eliminating the word “probable” from injury reports this season, the Dolphins listed eight players as questionable for Sunday: Williams, receiver DeVante Parker, tight end Jordan Cameron, running back Arian Foster, cornerback Xavien Howard, linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Spencer Paysinger and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips.

The Dolphins were optimistic about all of them playing, though Gase has emphasized that he won’t know about Parker until Sunday morning because it’s a soft-issue injury.

Center Mike Pouncey (hip) was ruled out.

For the Patriots, cornerback Eric Rowe is out; linebacker Dont’a Hightower is doubtful; and tight end Rob Gronkowski is among nine listed as questionable.

THIS AND THAT

• Quarterback Brandon Doughty said when he was released on Tuesday, general manager Chris Grier told him he would be re-signed to the practice squad if another team didn’t claim him.

“I’m glad I cleared waivers,” Doughty said. “I’m comfortable in this offense. Chris Grier said there’s a plan for me. I’m taking this year as a redshirt year.”

• Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said the Dolphins signed safety Isa Abdul-Quddus because "he was a missile in the run game, a great tackler. Where he has improved with us is pass coverage."

• Here’s how Joseph decides when to use Michael Thomas and when to use Bobby McCain, with each getting the same number of snaps against Seattle:

"Michael played in our big sub package. First [and] second down run/pass in the nickel spot. That is more run game. He is a better fit in the run game being a safety.

"Bobby played in our nickel package – all third down – where [it’s mostly] pass or two-minute [offenses]. Different package, different skill set."

McCain watched Doug Baldwin’s game-winning touchdown pass against him twice on tape and said he will learn from it. "His confidence is fine," Joseph said.

• Receiver Kenny Stills said he watched last Sunday’s dropped pass a couple of times on tape but then watched big plays he has made so that his confidence wouldn’t be adversely affected.

• Gase said he has met Patriots coach Bill Belichick only once, at the NFL Combine.

Gase was asked Friday if he treats player differently, as Jimmy Johnson said he did when he coached.

“Our coaching staff tries to treat everybody the same,” Gase said. “Pretty high percentage of guys try to do the right thing. We don’t have a lot of rules. Our biggest thing is make sure you give us full effort in practice and game day and make sure you’re where you’re supposed to be at the right time.”

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