The Dolphins released backup defensive end Jason Jones, and Ryan Tannehill returned to practice in two interesting developments in the Dolphins’ final practice before playing at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
According to a source, the Dolphins had decided early this week that Jones would not play this week. Jones then asked for his release with the hope of catching on with another playoff team, according to multiple sources.
The Dolphins granted him that release.
“Organization decision; what we thought was best for us,” coach Adam Gase said without elaborating.
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Jones had 36 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 14 games this season, including five starts. He had two tackles in last Sunday’s game against New England.
His release means Terrence Fede and Mario Williams are expected to be Miami’s backup defensive ends this week, behind starters Cam Wake and Andre Branch. Nick Williams is also available.
Mario Williams, who had 1.5 sacks this season, was inactive last week, but coordinator Vance Joseph said Thursday that he might play this week.
The Dolphins have an open roster spot and Gase said a decision will be made Saturday on how to fill it.
Jones was suspended by the NFL for two games (one in November, one in December) for an offseason arrest for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The release of Jones was unrelated to that, a source said.
Tannehill, meanwhile, was a limited participant in practice for the first time since sustaining slight tears in the MCL and ACL of his left knee on Dec. 11 against Arizona.
The Dolphins already have said Tannehill will not play Sunday but have not ruled him out for a division playoff game in New England, should Miami upset the Steelers on Sunday.
“I felt good about our deecision not to play this week,” Gase said. “He’s been on me pretty good to get back out there and get some work. I talked to doc and he felt we were ready to hit that next step and do some scout team work and see him move and see how he feels. It’s going to look different. He’s a little ahead of schedule if you really look at that injury. I don’t know if he’s going to be 100 percent with the amount of times that’s left. He might come in tomorrow and feel stiff. We’re still going through that process.”
Have doctors told Gase if Tannehill would be at risk of doing more damage to his knee if he plays?
“That’s what I keep bringing up,” Gase said. “That’s why we need to take baby steps; it’s an ongoing process to try to figure out the right thing to do. That’s where we’re at right now with him. We’ll ask him — did anything feel awkward? Did we have any issues the next day? That’s why we did it today to see next couple days what happens post practice.”
Meanwhile, cornerback Byron Maxwell is unlikely to play Sunday. He will be listed as doubtful on the injury report with an ankle injury.
“It doesn’t look real good for him,” Gase said. “It affects his movement patterns. it’s not as smooth as he wants it.”