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Three things to keep an eye out for against the Patriots

Kadeem Simmonds

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Three weeks in.

Three games played.

Three victories, zero losses.

The Miami Dolphins are on a roll and victory today puts this team in a great position to not only reach the play-offs but wrestle the AFC East back off the New England Patriots.

The Patriots are today’s opponents and here’s three things to watch out for once the game kicks off.

Wide receiver snap count

When Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson are on the field, magic happens.

Despite this, Adam Gase seems to have decided that Devante Parker will be the near ever-present on the field, the former first round pick seeing three times the snap count than Grant and Wilson against the Raiders.

Many fans and journalists, including myself, were of the belief that Parker had fallen out of favour given the fact that he was a somewhat healthy scratch against the Jets in Week 2.

It could just be that Parker is regarded as the difference maker of the group and will be used to bully the Patriots corners and stretch the field in ways Kenny Stills and the aforementioned duo can’t.

However, the Patriots have shown so far this season they can’t stop speedy players, the one thing Wilson and Grant have in abundance.

The gameplan must be to get the ball into the hands of the quick, elusive guys as much as possible, thus limiting the impact Parker has today.

Where Minkah lines up

Minkah Fitzpatrick was moved back to his ‘natural’ position of safety against the Raiders to mixed success.

The Alabama product got off to a scintillating start for the Dolphins over the course of the opening two weeks but looked to have struggled a bit in Week 3.

Without Reshad Jones’ veteran presence against the Raiders, it could be argued that Minkah looked a bit lost at times and with reports that Jones may not be fit for today’s game, Tom Brady may choose to target the rookie.

Do not be surprised if Minkah takes advantage of that and comes away with his first NFL interception.

In an ideal world, and it’s likely given that Jones was a full participant on Friday, #20 starts and allows Minkah to cover Rob Gronkowski, forcing the Pats to look for success on the perimeter.

Good luck with that given the form of Xavien Howard.

A breakout game for Kenyan Drake

Kenyan Drake has had a quiet start to the 2018 season, picking up 104 yards so far this season.

The running back excelled against the Patriots last season, picking up 191 total yards and a TD, with many seeing it as his breakthrough game.

Miami will need him to repeat that performance, controlling the ball on the ground and keeping Brady and the Patriots offence on the bench.

Kerryon Johnson gashed this Pats defence when the Lions dismantled them in Week 3 and Drake and Gase would have been drooling at the prospect of attacking this team on the ground.

The space will be there, Miami will just need to be patient.

Kadeem is a fairly new Dolphins fan and while he can't put his finger on why he chose the Fins as the team to support, he just knew it felt right. When not rooting for the team, he is a Sports Editor for a British newspaper.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Place Jake Brendel on IR; Sign Hroniss Grasu

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Their players don’t just go on injured-reserve, they do it twice in the same season.

The Miami Dolphins official social media account announced that the team has placed center Jake Brendel on injured-reserve, ending his 2018 season. To fill the available roster spot, the Dolphins signed offensive guard Hroniss Grasu.

Brendel was first placed on injured-reserve with a calf injury prior to the start of the season. He was one of two players that received the IR tag with the ‘ability to return’; this meant that Brendel was eligible to return after Week 8. Since his return, Brendel started 3 games and was active for 4.

Earlier this week in practice, Brendel re-injured the same calf that originally put him on IR. Strategically speaking, we’re at the point in the season where players will be placed on IR simply due to the fact that they’re unable to recover in time to effectively play again this season. Miami has three games remaining and they essentially have to win out (or only lose to the Minnesota Vikings next week) if they want to make the playoffs. The team can’t afford to hold a roster spot hostage for a player who’s less-than 100%.

With Brendel hitting injured-reserve, the Dolphins now have 12 players out for the year.  It’s too bad we’re talking about the number of players on injured-reserve and not 12 Angry Men, because the only thing we can speculate at this point is how unlucky the Dolphins’ health has been this season.

The empty roster spot left by Brendel has been filled by former Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens offensive guard Hroniss Grasu.

Grasu was selected by the Bears with the 71st-overall pick (3rd-round) in the 2015 NFL draft. He started 8 games that season for Adam Gase‘s offense, but since then has only started 5. He played for the Bears from 2015-2017, though he missed the 2016 after being placed on injured-reserve. Grasu was signed by the Ravens this past September and was active for 3 games (making 1 start). He was released by the team on November 24th.

From one Hr to another: cheers, mate!

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Miami Dolphins

A.J. Derby to IR; Dolphins Claim Dee Delaney

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, and confirmed by the Miami Dolphins official social media account, the team has been awarded former Miami Hurricanes cornerback Dee Delaney off of waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars. To make room for Delaney on the roster, the Dolphins placed tight end A.J. Derby on injured reserve with a foot injury.

Derby’s designation is a strategic move by the Dolphins, who knew they weren’t going to maximize Derby’s production for the final 4-game stretch of the season, given the nagging foot injury he’s dealt with all season.

Originally drafted by the New England Patriots in the 6th-round (202nd overall) in the 2015 NFL draft, Derby has dealt with a slew of injuries throughout his career. He has been placed on injured reserve in 3 of the 4 seasons he’s played in the NFL (2015, 2017-2018). Derby was claimed off of waivers by the Dolphins in November, 2017 (after being placed on injured reserve and then released by the Denver Broncos) and was active for two games – making two receptions for 11 yards.

Derby came into 2018 more as an afterthought to fans, but he was expected to contribute more than 3 receptions for 48 yards for the season. The Dolphins tight end position was supposed to be a bit more dynamic after drafting Mike Gesicki in the 2nd-round and Durham Smythe in the 4th-round, but after losing MarQueis Gray to a torn achilles in training camp, the team’s lack of experience was revealed.

Entering Week 14, active Dolphins tight ends have the following numbers:

  • Gesicki: 18 receptions, 156 yards, 0 TDs
  • Smythe: 2 receptions, 27 yards, 0 TDs
  • Nick O’Leary: 8 receptions, 86 yards, 1 TD

It’s evident this offense is missing production from the tight end spot, a major contributing factor to the Dolphins 20.5 points per game average this season.

The Dolphins claimed Dee Delaney from waivers after the Jacksonville Jaguars released the cornerback yesterday. He originally signed with Jacksonville after going undrafted in the 2018 draft; predominantly spending time on the team’s practice squad. He was called up to the active roster a couple times this season – his most recent stint on December 2nd when Jacksonville played the Indianapolis Colts.

Jacksonville needed to make room for Leonard Fournette after the star running back served a one-game suspension for leaving the sidelines and throwing a punch during their 24-21 lost to the Buffalo Bills, leaving Delaney as the unfortunate casualty.

Delaney will act as a project cornerback while competing with Torry McTyer for playing time. He also provides insurance for the team after Cornell Armstrong left the Bills game with a knee injury.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Promote Isaiah Ford; Place Jakeem Grant on IR

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

According to the Miami Dolphins official social media account, the team has placed wide receiver Jakeem Grant on injured reserve. To fill the empty roster spot, the team promoted Isaiah Ford to take his place.

Ford was originally drafted by the Dolphins in the 7th-round (237th overall) in the 2017 NFL draft. He was competitive in camp his rookie year, but it wasn’t certain that Ford was going to make the roster. A knee injury landed him on injured reserve, ending his 2017 season.

Ford had a great training camp in 2018, noticeably outperforming former 3rd-round pick Leonte Carroo as well as some other promising wide receivers such as Francis Owusu. His performance wasn’t enough to keep him on the roster, and to the fan’s surprise, he was released during final roster cuts. Ford was then signed to Miami’s practice squad, where he’s been since the start of the season. He has yet to be active for a game with the Dolphins.

His promotion comes on the heels of another Miami Dolphins season-ending injury. This time, to their catalyst of a return man and to their receiving depth.

Grant nearly tore his Achilles making a cut on one of his routes against the Green Bay Packers in Week 10. He had surgery done last week to correct what had apparently been a nagging injury that has been occurring for at least a few years.

Although his “hands” have been a teasing subject for him, it’s evident Grant has the mismatch ability the Dolphins so dearly covet in their wide receivers. Over his 3-year career, Grant has 471 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Most of his offensive snaps have come this season, where he accumulated 282 snaps up to this point. Previously, Grant had only played 151 offensive snaps between 2016-2017.

His evolution as a receiver came with the additional perk of having a kick returner worth fearing. Grant was averaging 29.7 yards per kick return and 16.7 yards per punt return prior to his injury. He had also returned a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown this season. Or in other words, he generated the same amount of touchdowns in 2018 as Brock Osweiler.

It’ll be interesting to see how Grant, a player that relies predominantly on his speed, recovers from this injury. Tony Lippett was performing well in 2016 prior to the Achilles injury that cost him his 2017 season and, ultimately, his spot on the Dolphins 2018 roster.

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