A six-pack of Dolphin notes on a Friday:
▪ Thirty percent of the Dolphins’ practice squad is now comprised of former Miami Hurricanes. The latest addition: defensive back Tracy Howard, who has been unemployed since being released by Jacksonville’s practice squad on Sept. 8.
Howard, who signed with Miami on Thursday, appeared in 15 games, including three starts, for Cleveland as an undrafted rookie last season.
Howard joins receivers Rashawn Scott and Malcolm Lewis as the three Hurricanes on the Dolphins’ practice squad.
Incidentally, UM has had two Rivals.com five-star recruits during the past five years: Howard (the nation’s No. 1 cornerback coming out of Miramar) and Chad Thomas (who plays his final game for UM in the Orange Bowl against Wisconsin). Two new five-star players — running back Lorenzo Lingard and receiver Mark Pope — signed with Miami this week.
▪ Among the indictments of Jay Cutler and the passing game: The Dolphins have thrown the ball 60 percent of the time (tied for highest in the league according to Inside Edge), yet their 2,968 passing yards rank only 20th. The league average is 54 percent, so Miami at 60 is well above.
That’s a result, in part, of trailing a lot and inability to sustain drives.
What’s more, Cutler has completed passes for 40 or more yards on just 1 of his 389 total passing attempts this season — tied for worst of 35 qualifying cornerbacks.
Also, Dolphins quarterbacks have fumbled four times since Week 12 — most in the league
Cutler is fifth among active players with 94 fumbles, behind Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. Cutler has five fumbles this season.
▪ The bad news on the Dolphins’ defense: Per Inside Edge, Miami has hurried opposing quarterbacks on 9 percent of dropbacks this season — tied with Carolina for worst the NFL. The league average is 12.9 percent.
Adam Gase has always said pressures are more important than sacks. Miami isn’t much better in sacks (28th in the league).
• The good news on the Dolphins defense: Miami has forced nine fumbles on 351 carries (39.0 carries per fumble) this season — best in the NFL. League average is 70.3 carries per fumble.
▪ Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi on Jakeem Grant’s year as a returner: “He’s been an arrow up the whole year. We weren’t as good in the early parts of the year as I wanted to be in the return game. I really feel like in the last three or four weeks, Jakeem’s really shown us a lot of what he showed in the preseason. I thought he had a really good preseason. I thought we hit a little bit of a lull there in the middle of the year, and I think we’ve been really improving in that area. I’ve said this a million times, I don’t think there’s a guy that works harder at it — the return stuff — than he does.”
Incidentally, the Dolphins have recovered three onside kicks this season, an unusually high number. “The number one thing is Cody Parkey hit some really good balls,” Rizzi said. “Hats off to Cody on that, because we’ve had three different types of kicks that we’ve recovered.”
▪ CBS assigned Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon (who’s never hesitant to criticize) to Dolphins-Chiefs on Sunday, with the game airing in 10 percent of the country, including South Florida and parts of 10 other states. See 506sports.com for a regionalization map.