A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Tuesday evening:
▪ Who was the Dolphins’ MVP this past weekend? My vote goes to Saints kicker Wil Lutz for his 58-yard field goal to beat Houston as time expired Monday night.
The New Orleans kicker sent the Texans to 0-1, which is significant because every Texans loss increases the value of Miami’s second 2020 first-round pick, the one that Houston is sending to the Dolphins in the Laremy Tunsil deal.
The Dolphins also received Houston’s 2021 first and second round picks in that transaction.
Even though the Texans are a solid team and a clear playoff contender, they have a difficult schedule - which also could help Miami’s draft position.
They have at least four very difficult out-of-division games remaining: at the Rams, at the Chiefs, at the Ravens and home against New England.
Beyond two games each against AFC South opponents Tennessee, Jacksonville and Indianapolis, the Texans also have potentially challenging games at home against Carolina and Atlanta, plus a Week 16 game at Tampa Bay.
Their other two games are home against Oakland and Denver; they’ll be favored in both of those.
Evan Silva, co-founder of football web site Establishtherun.com, noted on Twitter that “the Texans are good team for full-rebuild #Dolphins to bet against & get picks from. Those picks could land higher in draft than expected.
“Houston has a hard schedule, serious problems all over [its] defense, and [the] OL will still be below average to bad even with Tunsil.”
The Saints had six sacks against Houston on Monday night.
▪ The Dolphins did not announce any changes to their 53-man roster on Tuesday, but they made a change to the practice squad, releasing offensive tackle Zach Sterup, who appeared in six games and started one last season.
Signed in his place: Undrafted Tennessee State rookie Chidi Okeke, a former LSU player who spent time this offseason with the Redskins and Chiefs.
“Okeke’s size, strength and athletic traits are going to have teams excited upon initial tape work, but additional study will likely show a player still in the infant stages of his journey toward becoming a fundamentally sound pro,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said before April’s NFL Draft. “His strength at the point of attack combined with a raw approach in pass protection could make a move inside to guard an option. Okeke could be an early stash-and-teach project for teams hoping to extract his full potential.”
▪ Smart move by the Dolphins to continue to kick the tires on former high draft picks who are cut by other teams.
The latest: Teez Tabor, a two-time All-SEC cornerback for the Florida Gators who was Detroit’s second-round pick in 2017.
He appeared in 12 games, with four starts, for Detroit last season, after playing in 10 games, with one start, as a rookie. Detroit released him Labor Day weekend.
Others who auditioned for the Dolphins on Tuesday: rookie South Dakota State cornerback Jordan Brown (a seventh-round pick cut by the Bengals Labor Day weekend but a third-round talent, per Zierlein); former Vikings offensive tackle Storm Norton and former Miami Central High and USF cornerback Deatrick Nichols (two games for Arizona Cardinals last season).
▪ Ask offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea who played well Sunday, and he mentioned Ryan Fitzpatrick - one reason why a quarterback change wasn’t considered after Week 1.
“The biggest thing about ‘Fitz’ is I think he really handled himself through some tough times there during the game like a real professional,” O’Shea said. “He’s got great mental toughness, great leadership, didn’t waver any in tough times, and that’s one of his traits that’s very awesome.”
▪ According to the NFL players union, Miami’s available cap space has risen to $38 million with all the roster cuts, and that can be carried over and combined with the $93.7 million in cap space the team currently has next year, per overthecap.com.
▪ Highly unusual: In at least one Las Vegas casino, the betting line for Sunday’s Dolphins game has jumped from the Patriots being 14.5 favorites to 19 point favorites, as Andy Slater noted.
The biggest NFL point spread on record was in 2013, when Denver was a 26 point favorite over Jacksonville, per gambling expert Lee Sterling. It will be interesting to see if the Dolphins exceed that this season. But keep in mind that the Patriots might be resting starters when the Dolphins wrap up their season Dec. 29 in New England.
Here’s my Tuesday piece with details on how the Dolphins used Minkah Fitzpatrick Sunday and other notes.
Here’s part 1 of my Marlins series on how the team’s top prospects did this season.