Barry Jackson

Dolphins’ defensive ends in question; Dolphins nuggets

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 15: William Hayes #95 of the Miami Dolphins tackles Tevin Coleman #26 of the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 15, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 15: William Hayes #95 of the Miami Dolphins tackles Tevin Coleman #26 of the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 15, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

A bunch of Friday Dolphins nuggets:

• The Dolphins listed five players as questionable for Sunday’s game against Oakland: defensive ends William Hayes and Andre Branch, quarterback Jay Cutler, right guard Jermon Bushrod and receiver DeVante Parker. All five participated fully in practice Friday.

Coach Adam Gase previously said Cutler is starting against Oakland. Parker has said he’s playing and looked good in practice this week, Gase said.

Branch declined to discuss the likelihood of him playing Sunday. Hayes said there has been some improvement in his hamstring but “they might try to save me until next week.”

Asked his level of optimism regarding Hayes and Branch for Sunday, Gase said: “I’m always going to think everybody is going to be able to go until they tell us they can’t go.”

Gase said there’s nothing that can be done in particular to protect Cutler’s ribs and “you are kind of at the mercy of what happens on each individual play.”

Asked how his team responded in practice this week in the wake of last week’s 40-0 loss, Gase said: “I thought guys did a good job. They worked hard, which is what we’ve been seeing. The transition from meetings to the field, taking information from meetings to the field, guys were on it pretty good.”

Gase was non-committal about whether guard Ted Larsen would be on the active roster Sunday; who is eligible to come off injured reserve after a June biceps injury.

Kenyan Drake, whose role increases a lot with Jay Ajayi traded, said he never carried more than 15 times in a game, even at Alabama. But "the more carries I get, the stronger I’ll get."

Keep in mind that Drake was a backup at Alabama.

• Make no mistake: The message sent by Ajayi’s trade resonated. Don’t even think about complaining or not studying or showing an attitude. "He sent a message," safety Michael Thomas said. “I think everybody got the message, ‘let’s go out there and do our job.’”

Cordrea Tankersley said it was clear from Gase’s speech, that if you’re not on board “we’ll dump you out.”

• For some perspective on how dismal the Dolphins’ offense is, consider this: Miami is averaging 13.1 points and 252 yards. In this century, only nine teams have finished a season averaging fewer points than that, and all of them finished with between two and four wins, which makes Miami’s 4-3 record astounding. The last: the 2011 Rams, at 12.1. Only 10 teams have averaged fewer yards.

• Defensive coordinator Matt Burke was somewhat critical of himself this week.

Asked if the defense needs to carry the load more amid the offense’s struggles, Burke said: “I don’t think we look at it like that. We do our job and our job is to put as few points on the board for the other team as possible and get stops. Again, we can’t really worry about that stuff, so talking about ‘We have to do more,’ I think that’s where people get into trouble.

“To be honest with you, I think I fell into that a little bit last week. I preached to my guys about not forcing the issue and not trying to do too much and some of my calls last week, I got into the mode a little bit. I told the defense the same thing. I said I can’t do the things that I tell you guys not to do, in terms of us pressing to make plays and me trying to blitz every snap and trying to make something happen. It doesn’t work like that. If you start doing that, you get out of being a sound team.”

Asked if the defense has regressed a bit, he said “tackling I thought we’ve tackled poorly, especially last week.”

FYI: Burke said Stephone Anthony, who hasn’t played a defensive snap since being acquired from New Orleans for a fifth-round pick, is playing SAM linebacker.

• Gase on Friday raved about former UM receiver Rashawn Scott, who was returned to the Dolphins’ 53-man roster this week after being on the physically unable to perform list with a broken foot sustained in June.

“I can't wait to see him get a chance to perform because he does so many good things in practice,” Gase said. “It's about opportunity. When is the right time he gets a chance? He's willing to do anything. I love the fact he knows all three spots at wide receiver. He will do anything you ask him to do on special teams. Whatever he has that day, you will get it. He pushed a lot of other guys in that room. They knew he wasn’t going to be outworked.”

Scott was on the active roster late last season, including the playoff game in Pittsburgh.

• Former Dolphins great Nick Buoniconti announced in Boston on Friday that he’s donating his brain to CTE research upon his death. Buoinconti said he has experienced memory loss and difficulty performing tasks such as knotting a tie.

This is the fourth in a flurry of posts today. Please click here for my scoop on the Dolphins raising ticket prices.

Please click here for an in-depth NFL interview with Al Michaels as he prepares to call Miami’s first Sunday night game in seven years; he says it benefits the networks when the Dolphins are good.

And please click here for my story on two major South Florida sports TV news stories today - the Heat hiring a new TV analyst and NBC-6 hiring a new lead sportscaster.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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