A six-pack of Dolphin notes on a Tuesday:
▪ In a season going nowhere, here’s one promising storyline that warrants attention:
The Josh Rosen to Preston Williams dynamic.
Rosen, of course, has a chance to prove he’s an NFL starting quarterback - whether here or elsewhere. (Miami still fully plans to draft a quarterback in the first-round and it’s unlikely that plan changes.)
And Williams - the undrafted rookie who leads Miami in receptions (11) and yards (155) - has a chance to validate cornerback Xavien Howard’s assertion that he has No. 1 receiver potential.
In a CBS production meeting last week, Rosen called Williams his best friend on the team.
But Williams said their on-field chemistry isn’t yet where it needs to be. Rosen targeted Williams 11 times on Sunday against Dallas, but only three were caught for 43 yards, with Williams unable to established possession on a potential touchdown that was ruled incomplete. (Williams also caught a 25-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick.)
“We’ve got to get a little bit more chemistry down, a little bit more work together so we can just polish up some things, and get on the same page,” Williams said this week. “I feel like me and Josh will be real fine. Josh is a great quarterback. He knows what he is doing. He is a talented guy with a great arm.”
Rosen and Williams established a relationship at The Opening, an Oregon-based event for top high-school recruits. They worked out together in Los Angeles over the summer.
“We played in The Opening together; we’re familiar with each other just from past events,” Williams said. “We’re just reuniting back here. It’s pretty cool.”
Only 30 NFL receivers have been targeted more than Williams, who has 11 receptions on his 23 targets. Williams has been thrown more passes so far this season than, among others, Dallas’ Amari Cooper and New England’s Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett.
But he bemoans the squandered chance to catch his second touchdown on Sunday.
“Honestly? I should’ve made that catch,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been [expletive] in the end zone. I’ve just got to come down with those. I wish I had them back.”
At least Rosen and Williams provide two reasons to watch games of a team that has been mostly uncompetitive.
“Undrafted, first round – I never doubted my talent and what I can do,” Williams said. “I had a chip, that gave me drive; but at the same time, I still felt like I could still compete in the league and be one of the No. 1 receivers one day.”
▪ If there was one Dolphin who seemed likely to break out this season, it was linebacker Jerome Baker, who’s diligent, mature, respected by teammates (as evidenced by him being named defensive co-captain with Bobby McCain) and possessing the skill set important for modern linebackers, with his speed and ability to cover.
But it hasn’t come together yet for Baker. Pro Football Focus ranks him 76th of 81 linebackers this season, and Baker tweeted five simple words Tuesday: “I have to play better.”
Baker has 23 tackles so far this season, but no tackles for loss or quarterback hits or interceptions. He knows he needs to make more impact plays as a linebacker playing most every down.
▪ If receiver Albert Wilson is healthy, he’s one of Miami’s top offensive players. But he’s going to need to show durability and production because of a $9.4 million base salary next season that’s not guaranteed.
He has a $10.8 million cap hit if he’s on the team in 2020 but only $1.3 million in dead money if he’s cut. So as skilled as Wilson is, he’s going to need to reprove his value to this staff, which clearly isn’t using much from 2018 to determine players’ value.
Wilson already has had $14.45 million guaranteed in his three-year contract.
Wilson has missed the past two games with a calf injury.
▪ The Dolphins auditioned four young wide receivers on Tuesday and signed one of them (Andy Jones) to their practice squad.
Jones played in eight games and started three for Detroit last season, with 11 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.
The others who auditioned:
Rookie Emanuel Hall, who averaged 20.8 yards per catch at Missouri but went undrafted and was cut by Chicago and Tampa Bay in August;
Rookie Damoun Patterson, a former undrafted Youngstown State receiver who joined the Patriots’ practice squad last November;
Rookie DeAndre Thompkins, who had caught 83 passes for 1,245 yards and six touchdowns during his career at Penn State but had just one catch for four yards for the Eagles in preseason before being cut.
Miami - which ended Sunday’s game with only three healthy receivers - is awaiting word on the status of Wilson and Hurns. Receivers Isaiah Ford and TJ Rahming began Tuesday on the practice squad; it’s unclear who was released to make room for Jones.
▪ The Dolphins likely will need to replace injured slot corner Jomal Wiltz on Sunday, and their best option would be using Reshad Jones at safety if healthy and moving safety Bobby McCain back to slot corner. Whether Flores will do this is another matter entirely. Flores said last week that Jones - who missed the past two games with an ankle injury - is “close” to returning.
Wiltz played 29 snaps Sunday - working primarily in the slot - before leaving with a groin injury.
Cornerback Eric Rowe played 71 snaps and Howard 70 on Sunday before his late-game ejection. Cornerback Chris Lammons got 23 defensive snaps and cornerback Ken Webster four. Cornerback Johnson Bademosi (acquired in the Laremy Tunsil deal with Houston) got 17 defensive snaps in his first extensive defensive action for Miami.
Bademosi was Pro Football Focus’ second-highest rated Dolphin on defense Sunday, behind linebacker Raekwon McMillan. Rowe was third, McCain fourth and safety Steven Parker fifth.
With Minkah Fitzpatrick traded to Pittsburgh, the Dolphins had Parker and Walt Aikens each play 39 snaps at safety, while starting free safety McCain played 67 of Miami’s 72 defensive snaps.
▪ More PFF metrics: All five passes thrown against Howard were caught Sunday, for 70 yards, with Cooper catching all five…. Rowe had his best game for Miami. He was targeted four times and allowed only one catch for six yards...But Lammons was victimized, allowing two of three passes to be caught for 51 yards….
PFF said linebacker Baker, defensive end Taco Charlton and Howard were the three lowest-graded players on defense, and center Daniel Kilgore, right tackle J’Marcus Webb and guard/tackle Michael Deiter the three lowest-graded players on offense.... Running back Mark Walton was the only Dolphins player active Sunday who didn’t play. Kenyan Drake logged 46 snaps, Kalen Ballage 25 and fullback Chandler Cox two.
Here’s my Tuesday piece with Dolphins roster moves and record-low TV ratings.