None of the Miami Dolphins’ past six games has been televised in more than a quarter of the country. But Miami soon will get the type of national exposure earned by a 7-4 record.
On Monday, the Dolphins’ game at Las Vegas was set for 8:15 p.m. for Saturday, Dec. 26, with NFL Network televising nationally.
In the league’s original schedule, the Dolphins’ game had been one of five games designated by the league as possibilities to be moved from Sunday, Dec. 27 to Saturday, Dec. 26.
Two others also were shifted to Saturday, Dec. 26: Tampa Bay-Detroit (at 1 p.m. on NFL Network) and Arizona-San Francisco (at 4:30 p.m., but available outside of those two markets only on Amazon Prime’s streaming service).
Browns-Jets and Broncos-Chargers will remain on Sunday, Dec. 27 as regional CBS telecasts.
Miami’s next marquee game — against Kansas City on Dec. 13 — won’t be flexed to NBC’s Sunday Night Football because NBC has a strong game that night (Buffalo-Pittsburgh). But CBS’ Jim Nantz suggested on air on Sunday that he and Tony Romo would call that 1 p.m. Dolphins game, which will be televised in a significant part of the country.
News and notes on every position in the wake of Miami’s 20-3 win at the New York Jets:
▪ Quarterback: The Dolphins will evaluate Tua Tagovailoa at practice Wednesday through Friday to determine if his swollen left thumb on his throwing hand is strong enough to play Sunday against visiting Cincinnati. Brian Flores said Monday he has no idea yet if Tagovailoa will be healthy enough to practice fully this week.
Flores said that Tagovailoa is the starter if healthy. Rookie Reid Sinnett returned to the practice squad on Monday after being “elevated” to serve as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backup on Sunday.
As a COVID-19 precaution following the holiday weekend, the NFL banned teams from having players practice on Monday and Tuesday.
And this is happening behind the scenes: On behalf of the Dolphins, veteran quarterback Jake Rudock on Friday began the NFL-required process of taking five COVID-19 tests over five days. When those tests are completed, the Dolphins then will decide whether to sign him to their practice squad or less likely, the active roster.
Asked if the team is considering signing Rudock and having him or Sinnett spend the rest of the season in quarantine to use in case of a COVID emergency, Flores said: “I don’t foresee something like that but we’ll always try to stay one step ahead.”
Flores said he and general manager Chris Grier “would like to distance quarterbacks as much as possible. [Being] in intensive protocol helps that a great deal.”
Rudock began the season on Miami’s practice squad — where he spent all of last season — and was later cut but has visited the Dolphins three times since.
▪ Running back: DeAndre Washington played the most offensive snaps (34), which was largely the result of Matt Breida (23 snaps) and Patrick Laird (10) seeing their playing time drop after those two players fumbled.
Washington — who had only three carries for Kansas City before his Nov. 3 trade to Miami — had 49 yards on 13 carries.
▪ Offensive line: Fitzpatrick was sacked four times, but Pro Football Focus blamed only two on the offensive line: left guard Ereck Flowers and right guard Jesse Davis. PFF blamed Fitzpatrick for the other two.
Rookie left tackle Austin Jackson relinquished one quarterback hit and three hurries. PFF said rookie right tackle Robert Hunt was Miami’s best run-blocker and Davis the worst; Davis practiced only one day last week after spending three days on the COVID-19 list.
PFF rated Hunt, Jackson and center Ted Karras as Miami’s third, fourth and fifth best players on offense on Sunday, behind only receivers DeVante Parker and Malcolm Perry.
▪ Wide receiver: With Perry departing after just six offensive snaps with a chest injury, Lynn Bowden Jr. played 22 snaps at receiver and Antonio Callaway 13. Parker (8 catches for 119 yards) played 67 of Miami’s 71 offensive snaps, and Mack Hollins (47) played nearly twice as much on offense as Jakeem Grant (24).
▪ Tight end: For the second week in a row, Mike Gesicki played much more than the other tight ends — which hadn’t been the case earlier in the season. Gesicki played 50 snaps on offense, Durham Smythe 30 and Adam Shaheen 25. Both Gesicki and Shaheen caught touchdown passes.
▪ Defensive line: With Christian Wilkins returning after missing two games on the COVID-19 list, Zach Sieler and Jason Strowbridge played less.
Wilkins played 45 of Miami’s 55 defensive snaps; Sieler played 20 and Strowbridge 4. Emmanuel Ogbah played 39 and emerging rookie Raekwon Davis logged 33.
Ogbah has had a very good season, but PFF said he was Miami’s worst player on defense on Sunday, and the Dolphins curiously put their top pass rusher in pass coverage on one play in which he allowed a 30-yard completion to receiver Denzel Mims.
Meanwhile, Davis continued to get high marks from PFF, ranking sixth among all Miami defenders against the Jets after ranking No. 1 the previous two games.
PFF rated Wilkins and Sieler as Miami’s fourth and fifth best players on defense on Sunday, behind cornerback Xavien Howard (seventh interception of season), linebacker Elandon Roberts (big fourth down stop) and cornerback Nik Needham (first interception of season).
▪ Linebacker: Jerome Baker — who logged a surprisingly low 20 snaps against Denver — played 43 of Miami’s 55 defensive snaps against the Jets, with Kyle Van Noy playing all 55, Shaq Lawson 34, Andrew Van Ginkel 29 and Roberts 18.
▪ Defensive backs: Cornerbacks Howard and Byron Jones and safety Bobby McCain played all 55 defensive snaps, with safety Eric Rowe playing 52. Cornerback Nick Needham played 44 and rookie safety Brandon Jones 23.
Howard allowed only 3 of 10 passes in his coverage area to be caught, for 37 yards and the interceptions.
Jones permitted two completions in four targets for 64 yards.
The Dolphins are expected to sign veteran cornerback Akeem King to their practice squad. He has appeared in 34 games — and started four — for the Falcons and Seahawks between 2017 and 2019.