Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick: ‘’Win the turnover battle’’
Even beyond quarterback — where Ryan Tannehill remains out — the Dolphins’ injury situation remains a mess, with uncertainty at several positions, particularly defensive end.
Here’s the potential good news: Cornerback Bobby McCain said his injured knee is 100 percent healthy and he will play against Detroit on Sunday. McCain said he could have played last Sunday, and expected to, but the team held him back to be cautious.
But he was limited in practice Wednesday and the Dolphins haven’t said for sure if he will play.
His replacement, Torry McTyer, struggled badly and was benched against Chicago. So McCain is badly needed against a Detroit offense that’s 10th in yards and 7th in passing yards. “Adding Bobby back is crucial,” safety Reshad Jones said.
But here’s the biggest concern aside from Tannehill’s injured shoulder: The Dolphins, at the moment, have only two healthy defensive ends: Robert Quinn and Cameron Malveaux.
The internal hope is that two among Andre Branch, Cam Wake or Jonathan Woodard, or less likely, Charles Harris, will be cleared for Sunday.
Wake, who has missed the past two games, practiced on a limited basis for the first time since recent knee surgery, but Gase said it remains to be seen if he can play Sunday.
Woodard remains in concussion protocol and didn’t practice Wednesday. Nor did defensive end Harris, who injured his calf on the final play of practice on Friday.
And Branch was limited with a knee injury — three days after returning from a knee injury to play against Chicago. But Branch didn’t sound concerned Wednesday, saying: “I’m happy to be back.”
In other developments:
▪ Linebacker Chase Allen was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury that has worsened recently, according to a source. He played one defensive snap on Sunday against Chicago. The Dolphins promoted safety Maurice Smith to fill Allen’s spot on the 53-man roster.
Allen, who started five games over the past season-and-a-half, played well in preseason and had emerged as Miami’s No. 4 linebacker. Without him, Stephone Anthony and Martrell Spaight will be the team’s backup linebackers behind Kiko Alonso, Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker.
▪ Receiver DeVante Parker said his quadriceps injury is now closer to 100 percent. He said he only played five snaps on Sunday against Chicago because of that injury.
▪ Linebacker Mike Hull and center Jake Brendel were designated as the team’s short-term injured reserve players, meaning they are eligible to play as early as the Nov. 4 game against the Jets. They practiced Wednesday on the first day they were eligible, but Gase said it was too soon to know how soon they will play.
Hull will help on special teams, at the very least. Brendel would be an option at center — where Travis Swanson has played well the past two weeks — or potentially at guard.
THIS AND THAT
Receiver Albert Wilson was named AFC offensive player of the week after scoring two touchdowns against Chicago and becoming only the third NFL player since 1992 to produce 150 receiving yards in the fourth quarter of a game.
“It’s awesome,” Wilson said of the award.
▪ Left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who played very well Sunday, admitted he was more fired up than usual to play against Chicago, because of All Pro Khalil Mack. “Going against elite player like that gets you fired up because you don’t want to lose,” he said.
▪ Rookie defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said he has no issues with playing a bit more than two thirds of defensive snaps, instead of all of them.
“That’s for the coaches to decide,” he said. “Everybody wants to be on the field every snap but coaches are going to do what they think is best.”
How would he assess his first six NFL games? “I did some good things, I did some bad things.”
▪ Dolphins defensive tackle Akeem Spence, facing his former teammates on Sunday, was pleased with his offseason trade from Detroit because the Lions changed defensive schemes this past spring and “I was uncomfortable in it,” he said Wednesday. “I’ve never been in a 3-4.” He’s playing a 4-3, where he’s comfortable, with the Dolphins.
▪ A.J. Derby, who has missed three games with a foot injury, was a full participant in practice and Gase now has decisions to make among, primarily, Nick O’Leary, Mike Gesicki and Derby. O’Leary has impressed and will likely continue to play.
“He’s done good job of things we’ve asked him to do,” Gase said. “All [the tight ends, including rookie Durham Smythe] have strengths we really like.”
▪ Gase said there’s very little new he can try against Lions coach Matt Patricia, New England’s former defensive coordinator. “I’ve tried everything with him; we’re close to maxing out on that aspect,” Gase said.