January 29, 2022

Acqua NYC

Fit And Go Forward

Miami Dolphins in danger of facing Patriots without two key playmakers

Sunday brought terrible injury news for the Miami Dolphins, and Monday was only marginally better.

There’s a good chance the Dolphins will be without tight end Mike Gesicki (shoulder) and receiver/returner Jakeem Grant (leg) Sunday against the Patriots, according to multiple league sources. There is a bit of internal optimism, however, that DeVante Parker (leg) will play.

Gesicki is the least likely to go this week after suffering what looked to be a significant shoulder injury late in Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs.

That would be a huge blow to the Dolphins; he leads the team in touchdowns (6), ranks second in catches (44) and yards (602) and has quickly become Tua Tagovailoa’s favorite target. Gesicki had two touchdown catches before getting hurt Sunday.

“I think it’s too early to tell,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said, when asked about Gesicki’s availability, not just this week but going forward. “We’re still going through the evaluation process with our medical staff. … I’m not even going to go into how he felt this morning. It’s too early to tell with Mike, as well as some other guys that got banged up yesterday.”

The short-term prognosis for Grant isn’t great, either. It’s unclear how he hurt his leg — he left the game briefly, tried to return and then left again for good — but the sense is he’s iffy, at best, for Sunday.

Parker, meanwhile, seemed to come out of Sunday the best of the three. It is not believed he suffered a major injury and there’s a chance he will be available for the Patriots game, although it’s far from certain.

Regardless, expect Isaiah Ford to make his return to the Dolphins’ game-day roster — assuming he gets through this week healthy.

A month after trading him to the Patriots only to see him released not long after, the Dolphins last week began the process of adding Ford to back to their practice squad, but first he needs to pass a series of COVID-19 tests to be allowed back on the field. If that all goes well, he would be eligible for promotion to the active roster, and could play Sunday against the team that cut him.

“He has some familiarity [with our offense] and we’ll see how it goes this week,” Flores said. “Obviously we have a lot of respect for him and excited to have him back.”

Ford would join Lynn Bowden, Malcolm Perry, Antonio Callaway and Mack Hollins as the Dolphins’ Week 15 receivers — along with Parker, assuming he can go. One of those three would need to handle return duties if Grant cannot play. Callaway filled in on Sunday.

The Dolphins still have not publicly ruled out Preston Williams, who’s on injured reserve with a foot injury, playing again this year, but that seems unlikely.

They do have one other option: Kenny Stills, who spent four productive seasons with the Dolphins before they traded him to Houston in the Laremy Tunsil deal, is a free agent after the Texans released him a few weeks back.

Flores on Monday deferred any questions about Stills to Chris Grier and the rest of the Dolphins’ front office.

“Those conversations will be internal, if and when they happen,” he added.

Stats and observations

Bowden, whose usage has spiked in recent weeks, not only led the Dolphins with seven catches for 82 yards, he was also played the most of all Dolphins receivers (59 of a possible 83 plays). Hollins logged 40 snaps, 33 for Perry, and 22 for Callaway.

With linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts out, Jerome Baker played all but one snap on defense. He responded with 2.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and 2 tackles for loss. Kamu Grugier-Hill (37 of 62 snaps on defense) also saw his role increase.

At defensive end, Shaq Lawson got a higher usage rate (94 percent) than Emmanuel Ogbah (79 percent) Sunday, even though Ogbah is the team’s sack leader.

Clayton Fejedelem briefly filled in for Bobby McCain at free safety but was pulled after just seven plays, which included the 44-yard touchdown pass he surrendered to Tyreek Hill. Kavon Frazier took over after and logged 25 snaps.

Even after surrendering 33 points Sunday, the Dolphins are still second in the NFL in scoring defense (18.8 per game) and if the Steelers’ recent slide continues, finishing first overall is not out of the realm of possibility.

More good Dolphins rankings: They are in the top 10 in third-down defense, kickoff coverage, fourth-down offense, interception rate, punt return average, scoring differential, red zone defense, and made field goal percentage.

Some bad Dolphins rankings: They are in the bottom 10 in total offense, yards per play, rushing, yards per rush, kickoff coverage, third-down offense, yards-per-play allowed, yards-per-rush allowed and yard differential.

Tagovailoa has finally thrown enough passes to qualify for league rankings. He’s 15th in passer rating (95.2), 25th in QBR (57.1) and 28th in yards per pass (6.6).

Source News