Barry Jackson

Miami Dolphins unsure if veteran starter should start longterm; Fins notes

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph works with the defense at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida, Aug. 5, 2016.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph works with the defense at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida, Aug. 5, 2016.

A six-pack of Wednesday Dolphins nuggets after interview sessions with Miami’s three coordinators:

• Linebacker Jelani Jenkins, an impending free agent who has battled injuries much of the season, could be in his final weeks as a Dolphins starter.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said Wednesday that Jenkins must learn to stay healthy and might be better suited to be a part-time player.

“When healthy, he’s played well,” Joseph said. “He has to figure it out how to stay healthy. Maybe a certain role fits him better. Part of being healthy is a skill set. He has to acquire that skill set.”

So what role might fit him better?

“Maybe playing less, maybe being a dime backer fulltime,” Joseph said.

Jenkins, 24, missed three games last season and three this season while dealing with knee, hand and hamstring injuries. He has started five of Miami’s 10 games this season.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins’ opinion of Neville Hewitt keeps rising.

Joseph said linebackers coach Matt Burke “has done a great job with Neville – he’s played at a high level for the past month. He may be a guy that can be a full-time starter. We’re not sure.”

• So why didn’t it work out with cornerback Chris Culliver, who was cut on Saturday before ever playing in a game for Miami? Joseph said Culliver, who tore his ACL and MCL in a Thanksgiving practice for the Redskins last season, never returned to form.

“Culliver was brought in here to help us at the corner spot,” Joseph said. “Chris had two major knee injuries. He worked hard but never got back to himself. He was never in my opinion full speed. He needs more time to go home and rehab and train. It’s a tossup after two major injuries for a corner. He needs more time.”

• Joseph said Dion Jordan, who has been cleared to return to practice, is going to be a defensive end, as expected. Jordan said recently that he’s 275 pounds, making a full-time move to linebacker unrealistic.

I asked Joseph if he, Adam Gase and Dolphins executives ever discussed having Jordan lose weight and becoming a linebacker.

Joseph said no but that he will have some linebacker-type duties. “He is a natural end for us – our ends are more in the mode of outside linebackers – he fits it perfect – he is an outside backer/slash defensive end,” Joseph said.

• Joseph said cornerback Byron Maxwell played his best game as a Dolphin against the Rams and had praise for most of his secondary.

“Those kids have done a great job of doing it right,” Joseph said. “The two corners [Maxwell, Tony Lippett] have played very consistent, not giving up the deep ball. Isa [Abdul-Quddus] has done a fine job. Michael [Thomas] has been consistent. [Bacarri] Rambo has played well. Safeties have communicated well. They’re playing really well the last month.”

• Even with Jordan Cameron lost for the season because of a concussion, offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said the tight ends “may be the most consistent group in the [offensive] unit. Those guys [Dion Sims, Marquies Gray, Dominique Jones] have played at a good, solid level.

“They want the ball too and it hasn’t happened that way – we have three wideouts and two playmakers at the running back position. The unselfish ones have been the tight ends – they’ve played extremely consistently and the highest consistent level of any position. We’ve been really pleased with them.”

• Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said Mike Thomas and Mike Hull have been the Dolphins’ best players this year in covering punts and kickoffs and that Lafayette Pitts has exceeded expectations…

He said there’s great faith in Jakeem Grant, noting he wasn’t as involved last week primarily because the Rams kicked off three times to Kenyan Drake, not Grant… He said the Dolphins haven’t brought in a single kicker for a workout this season, suggesting faith in Andrew Franks.

I have a post today with some Chris Bosh, including clarity on a key point that will affect the Heat’s flexibility if he makes a comeback elsewhere. For that, please click here.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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