Barry Jackson

From bad to worse: Dolphins without five defensive starters for high-powered Patriots

Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase talks about having a healthy team

Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase talks about having a healthy team and the 34-31 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Dec. 24, 2106.
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Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase talks about having a healthy team and the 34-31 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Dec. 24, 2106.

A six-pack of Dolphins nuggets off Thursday’s session with the coordinators:

• Vance Joseph confirmed what was pretty obvious a day ago: Cornerback Byron Maxwell won’t play against New England, the second game he will miss with an ankle injury.

That means the Dolphins will face the NFL’s top-rated passing offense without their No. 1 cornerback or their two starting safeties – Reshad Jones and Isa Abdul-Quddus, who are both on injured reserve.

“Is it a concern? Absolutely,” Joseph said. “Is it big, big worry? It can’t be. That’s what we got.”

Meanwhile, Joseph announced that linebacker Jelani Jenkins also will another miss game because of his knee injury.

That means Miami will be without five defensive players it expected to be starters: Maxwell, Abdul-Quddus, Jones, Jenkins and Koa Misi.

• The injury to Abdul-Quddus elevates Walt Aikens and AJ Hendy into a backup safety role. Neither has played a defensive snap this season. Hendy had been on the practice squad.

“If Walt has to play, I’m comfortable with Walt playing. He’s been three for three years. Physically, it’s no [issue]. It’s just experience.”

• On Michael Thomas replacing the injured Quddus, Joseph said: “As far impact, [Abdul Quddus] been a great leader for us. Michael Thomas is a veteran player. He’s a smart player. Michael played his best game of the year Saturday. We need Michael to play well. Bacarri Rambo will play more base and we’ll move on.”

• Joseph loves how Neville Hewitt has played filling in for Jenkins.

“Neville has had a great season in my opinion as a backup will backer,” he said. “He’s played at a high level. I can’t name a game where Neville hasn’t been productive. Probably the mental part [improved]. He was a second-year player who struggled with his assignments.”

• Why did Terrence Fede get far more snaps that Mario Williams?

“Mario has not been healthy,” Joseph said. “Fede has played well. He has earned a right to play more reps. Until Mario gets totally healthy, Terrence has earned the right to play in that role.”

• Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said the three young running backs (Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake) have wildly exceeded expectations.

“We all made an effort to keep Lamar [Miller] here,” Christensen said. “He’s a good player. No one knew [how good Ajayi, Williams and Drake would be].

“I don’t think anyone would have predicted what Jay did.

Damien’s film was really good – you had Isaiah Pead – you almost had too many [backs]. Then we added Arian [Foster, who later retired during the season]. By elimination, it got clearer. That ended up being a positive.

“[In training camp], we’ve got six guys and all six guys have a different profile. That’s a hard way to play. The reduction has made it clearer. And it’s still hard to get [Drake] reps. Kenyan – it’s hard to get him in the 20s rep wise in the game. His production and ability would warrant it. Him and Damien – that’s where they are so valuable – they give us big plays on offense, a toughness on offense, and give us consistency on special teams and big plays out of the special teams.

“That’s exactly what you need out of the 2 and 3 slot with our running backs.”

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