A six-pack of Wednesday Dolphins notes:
• The Miami Dolphins will be without quarterback Jay Cutler and starting left guard Anthony Steen for Thursday night’s game at Baltimore and four other starters were listed as questionable in Wednesday’s final injury report.
Steen, who has a foot injury, was ruled out and likely will be replaced by Jesse Davis, who filled in at left tackle last Sunday against the Jets after Laremy Tunsil left with a knee injury.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins listed four starters as questionable: receiver DeVante Parker (ankle), defensive end Andre Branch (groin), defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (ankle) and Tunsil (knee).
Tunsil participated fully in Wednesday’s walk-through and wants to play against Baltimore.
Parker, Branch and Phillips were limited in practice. Parker this week participated in parts of very light practices for the first time since sustaining the ankle injury Oct. 8 against Tennessee.
If Branch cannot play, Charles Harris and William Hayes likely will get more snaps and Terrence Fede also would play more.
Vincent Taylor likely would play some at defensive tackle if Phillips cannot play.
• Ted Larsen, expected to be the Dolphins’ starting left guard this season, has been out with a biceps injury since early August and is eligible to be able to come off injured reserve and play beginning with the Nov. 5 game against Oakland. Adam Gase has said he’s close to being able to practice.
• Keep in mind that Baltimore is vulnerable against the run. The Ravens are allowing 144 yards rushing per game, which is worst in the league.
But the Jets are 28th in the league in average rushing yards allowed per game and the Dolphins mustered just 30 yards on 15 carries in their first game and 53 on 25 carries in their second.
• The Dolphins have shown a willingness to use one defensive player on offense (linebacker Rey Maualuga as a fullback) and one offensive player on defense (Jesse Davis as a goal-line defensive linemen).
What qualifies Davis for that defensive gig?
“He’s a big dude,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said. “He’s physical. Again, it’s a testament to Adam [Gase]. Everybody is all hands on deck. When we went into the game with only three tackles active – defensive tackles active … We’d actually done it two weeks ago – I guess that was the Titans game – and he went out there for the snap and they jumped offsides, so he didn’t get an official snap of it. It was literally sort of like, I went to Adam, I was like, ‘Who’s going to be active? What are we kind of looking at, the picture of this here?’ He seemed like the best fit. He played d-tackle, I think, way back in his day at some point. So, there was kind of that element. It just felt like, ‘I’m going to stick you in this A gap. Can you go just get off and try to knock somebody around?’ He was good.”
• Clyde Christensen admitted this week there simply aren’t many Matt Moores in the league - high quality backups who can go in and win a game.
“They’re hard to find and they’re expensive,” Christensen said. “They’re expensive, frankly. I do think that you have to look hard to find one, a guy who can come in and win games. We had this discussion when we first got here because I think Matt was up and there just aren’t many. It’s kind of a Catch 22. Even when you have a real durable guy, you hate to spend money on a veteran backup and it costs you a couple of special teams guys or something; but you don’t need them until you need them, and when you do need them, and you get caught without one, it’s not fun, as we’re seeing around the league. For us last year and this year, to have one, to have that insurance policy and maybe you pay a little extra for it; but once you have to use it, you’re sure glad that you’ve got it.”
• The Dolphins are just two wins away from the early 21st century Colts’ record of 14 consecutive wins in games decides by seven points or less.
And special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said he isn’t surprised about Miami’s eye-opening success in close games.
“We’ve won in a variety of different ways,” he said. “It’s not like we’ve driven down the field in a 2-minute drive to win every one of these games. We’ve won in a variety of different ways. I think if you look at this past week’s game against the Jets, we’re down by 14 in the fourth quarter, the defense has a couple of great stops, we have a really good couple of special teams plays to shorten the field for the offense, and it all ties together. I just think our guys …
“It’s not a surprise to me that we play well in the fourth quarter because I watch our guys practice all the way to the end every day, obviously, down here in these conditions at times, and training camp and those types of things. We’ve been finishing very well and so it doesn’t really surprise me. To me, as a coach, I’m proud of the variety of ways that we’ve done it. It hasn’t been all offense, it hasn’t been all defense, it hasn’t been all special teams. It’s been a full team effort.”