Miami Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker talks about the challenge is coming in and learning the whole playbook
The Dolphins will get left tackle Laremy Tunsil back against Chicago’s formidable defense on Sunday.
But quarterback Ryan Tannehill is dealing with a light (throwing) shoulder issue that had the team non-committal about his status for the game against the Bears at Hard Rock Stadium. Tannehill was limited in practice Friday — after practicing fully on Wednesday and Thursday — and was listed as questionable for Sunday.
If he’s surprisingly unable to play, Brock Osweiler would be the potential starter, with David Fales also available.
Meanwhile, defensive end Cam Wake’s return from a knee injury will be delayed at least another week. He was listed as doubtful for Sunday.
Tunsil, cornerback Bobby McCain and receiver Jakeem Grant — who were all listed as questionable — all said they plan to play Sunday.
Beyond those three and Tannehill, the Dolphins listed six other players as questionable: defensive ends Andre Branch and Charles Harris, tight end A.J. Derby, safety T.J. McDonald, receiver DeVante Parker and linebacker Chase Allen.
Of the 10 who are listed as questionable, all practiced fully Friday except Tannehill, McCain and Derby.
The Dolphins’ offense unraveled after Tunsil left last Sunday’s game against Cincinnati and was replaced by Sam Young, who struggled. But Tunsil was removed from concussion protocol on Friday, practiced fully and said he will play Sunday against the Bears.
“Looking forward to playing against Chicago, which has a really good front,” Tunsil said, noting it was the first concussion of his life.
Tunsil said he was hit in the head during the first quarter against Cincinnati. “I tried to play through it; it got worse and worse.”
He left in the third quarter immediately after informing the team he might have a head injury. “I wanted to go back out there but once you tell them you have a headache, they put you in protocol.”
Though right tackle Ja’Wuan James will be matched up primarily against Bears Pro Bowler Khalil Mack, Tunsil likely will be asked to block him at times.
“He’s a great player,” Tunsil said. “I’m looking forward to that matchup.”
But Gase said the Dolphins won’t rush Wake, who missed last week with a knee injury and didn’t practice at all this week.
“We are going to be smart with him,” Gase said. “We are not going to rush him back by any means. It’s probably going to be will be more of us holding him back than him rushing back. We’ll know when he’s ready to go. He’s not far. We are being very cautious. We don’t want to lose him longer than we already have. We want to make sure everything is right and he is ready to go and we’ve got him for the rest of the year.”
As for Parker, Gase said he will be on the active roster Sunday if he’s healthy enough to play.
“He’s better than last week, was able to get through practices,” Gase said.
Parker has played in only one game this year because of a previous finger injury and now the quad, which sidelined him against Cincinnati.
As for a report by The Athletic this week that the Dolphins have talked to several teams about trading Parker, Gase said: “I know I haven’t called anybody.”
With friends and family watching from the stands at Paul Brown Stadium last Sunday, Jerome Baker chose a great time for the best game of his young NFL career.
Baker, the Miami Dolphins’ third-round pick who was born in Cleveland and played college football at Ohio State, not only finished with seven tackles in Miami’s 27-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, but the speedy outside linebacker also had the first two sacks of his professional career.
He made such an impression that Gase joked Thursday that the Dolphins should play in Ohio more often.
“I’ve gotta make Florida my new home so I can play every game like that,” Baker said, smiling.
Baker’s 34 tackles on the season are tied with teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick for the fifth-most by a rookie this season behind the Indianapolis Colts’ Darius Leonard (54), the San Francisco 49ers’ Fred Warner (46), the Dallas Cowboys’ Leighton Vander Esch (40) and the Buffalo Bills’ Tremaine Edmunds (38).
“I’m definitely happy with where I’m going but I know I’ve got a long way to go,” Baker said.
Baker has at least six tackles in all but one game this year. He is one of just nine first-year NFL players with multiple sacks after the first five weeks.
“He’s more confident,” said fellow linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who was Baker’s teammate at Ohio State for two years. “He’s already one of the fastest linebackers in the room. Just seeing him out there playing as fast as he can be is encouraging because he can be one of the best if he keeps it up.”