NFL Nation: Brent Grimes

Who is next to go in Miami?

March, 2, 2015
Mar 2
8:00
AM ET
The expected roster purge is officially underway with the Miami Dolphins.

Although not surprising, the most interesting Dolphins developments during my vacation last week were cutting veteran receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. The two moves will save Miami more than $6.5 million in cap space to pursue other free agents. It is just the beginning of several roster cuts the Dolphins expect to make in the next few weeks.

Hartline and Gibson combined for 68 receptions, 796 yards and three touchdowns last season. But their projected salaries didn’t match their production.

So who is next to go in Miami? Here are five candidates to keep an eye on:

Ellerbe
1. LB Dannell Ellerbe

2014 stats: Two tackles

2015 cap number: $9.85 million

2015 salary: $8.45 million

Analysis: I do not see any way Ellerbe survives this offseason's roster purge. The Dolphins need cap room, and releasing Ellerbe would provide plenty of it. The team can save more than $8 million by making this cut. Ellerbe played in just one game last season before suffering a season-ending hip injury. In addition, former backup Jelani Jenkins stepped in and led the Dolphins in tackles. Miami can sign two solid players for Ellerbe’s $8.45 million salary next season.

Finnegan
2. CB Cortland Finnegan

2014 stats: 44 tackles

2015 cap number: $6.475 million

2015 salary: $5.475 million

Analysis: Although I liked a lot of what Finnegan brought to Miami last season, it just doesn’t make financial sense for the team to keep him at this high a salary. It’s doubtful the Dolphins, who need to slash salary, would continue to pay Finnegan starter money next season. A possible compromise would be for Miami to ask Finnegan to take a pay cut to stay on board. If not, it’s time to turn the page and allow younger corners such as Jamar Taylor and Will Davis more opportunities to step into a bigger role opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes.

Wheeler
3. LB Philip Wheeler

2014 stats: 45 tackles

2015 cap number: $4.4 million

2015 salary: $3 million

Analysis: Wheeler had another poor season with the Dolphins last year. Wheeler struggled defending the pass and stopping the run and has not lived up to the $26 million contract he signed in 2013. This may be the year Miami cuts the cord with Wheeler and admits its mistake. He is not a good fit for Miami’s defense.

Garner
4. OL Nate Garner

2014 stats: 10 games

2015 cap number: $1.816 million

2015 salary: $1.65 million

Analysis: Garner is a survivor and has been a valuable backup in Miami for years. He is versatile and can play all five positions on the offensive line, which is rare. However, Garner suffered injuries last season and his $1.65 million salary may be a little too rich for the Dolphins at this stage. The Dolphins can find cheaper ways to build depth on the offensive line via the draft.

Starks
5. DT Randy Starks

2014 stats: 28 tackles, 4.5 sacks

2015 cap number: $6 million

2015 salary: $5 million

Analysis: Releasing Starks is not an easy decision for Miami. He’s been stout and reliable for a long time. However, Starks finally showed signs of wearing down in the second half of last season. He was one of several problems with Miami’s run defense down the stretch. Can the Dolphins pay Starks $5 million this upcoming season? The bigger question is, can Miami find a better starting defensive tackle for $5 million or less? Tough call.

Walker's Fab 40 finale: Nos. 1-4

January, 31, 2015
Jan 31
10:00
AM ET
We're concluding our series ranking the Miami Dolphins' top 40 players this season.

Finally, we have Miami's best four players.

[+] EnlargeMike Wallace
Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsVeteran Mike Wallace led all Dolphins receivers in touchdowns this season with 10.
No. 4: Mike Wallace

Position: Wide receiver

2014 stats: 67 receptions, 862 yards, 10 touchdowns

Analysis: It's difficult to appreciate how dynamic Wallace is in Miami. He's arguably the fastest player in the NFL, and I've rarely seen a player get as open as he does. However, the Dolphins' offense and quarterback Ryan Tannehill are not a match for his talents. Still, Wallace did all he can to develop into a possession-type receiver and led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns. His longest reception of the season was 50 yards. Frustration eventually boiled over in Week 17 when Wallace was benched after a verbal altercation at halftime. It remains to be seen if the Dolphins will bring Wallace back next season, but I doubt Miami will be able to easily replace his production.

No. 3: Cameron Wake

Position: Defensive end

2014 stats: 36 tackles, 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles

Analysis: Wake, 32, is still playing a high level. He posted double-digit sacks for the third time in his career and made it to his fourth Pro Bowl. Wake did have a few slow stretches during the season but few offensive tackles can handle his fastball. Wake's dedication to fitness and taking care of his body is a testament to his strong play despite his age.

No. 2: Brent Grimes

Position: Cornerback

2014 stats: 57 tackles, five interceptions

Analysis: Due to his modest demeanor, Grimes may never get the credit he deserves for being one of the NFL's best cornerbacks. Those who watch Grimes on a weekly basis knows how good he is. Grimes had another good year in Miami by leading the team in interceptions for the second year in a row. His best play last season was a one-handed, leaping interception against Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Grimes further showed his stuff in the Pro Bowl, when he intercepted a pass and made a strong push for MVP honors.

[+] EnlargeBranden Albert
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeThe Dolphins' offensive line was clearly not the same without its star left tackle in Branden Albert.
No. 1: Branden Albert

Position: Left tackle

2014 stats: Nine starts

Analysis: I was wrong about Albert. I thought he was a very good -- but not elite -- left tackle. So when the Dolphins invested $47 million on the former Pro Bowler, I wasn't completely sure it was the best move to make. But after watching Albert play in Miami over the course of the past season, he's clearly one of the league's top left tackles -- when healthy. Albert shut down opposing defensive ends and his contributions were even more noticeable in his absence. With Albert, the Dolphins allowed 2.5 sacks per game. Without Albert, those numbers escalated to 3.5 sacks per game. He was definitely my MVP in the first half of the season. Albert is trying to recover from a torn ACL -- which is a concern -- but according to Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey, he's progressing well and appears ahead of schedule.

That concludes "Walker's Fab 40" for 2015.

Here are my complete and updated rankings of Dolphins players:

1. LT Branden Albert
2. CB Brent Grimes
3. DE Cameron Wake
4. WR Mike Wallace
5. QB Ryan Tannehill
6. S Reshad Jones
7. P Brandon Fields
8. G Mike Pouncey
9. WR Jarvis Landry
10. LB Jelani Jenkins
11. DE Olivier Vernon
12. RB Lamar Miller
13. TE Charles Clay
14. RT Ja'Wuan James
15. LB Koa Misi
16. C Samson Satele
17. WR Brian Hartline
18. LS John Denney
19. QB Matt Moore
20. DT Randy Starks
21. DT Jared Odrick
22. S Louis Delmas
23. DT Earl Mitchell
24. LB Dannell Ellerbe
25. CB Cortland Finnegan
26. RB Knowshon Moreno
27. S Jimmy Wilson
28. DE Derrick Shelby
29. DE Dion Jordan
30. LB Jason Trusnik
31. TE Dion Sims
32. G Daryn Colledge
33. WR Brandon Gibson
34. CB Jamar Taylor
35. LB Philip Wheeler
36. OT Jason Fox
37. G/OT Dallas Thomas
38. DE Terrence Fede
39. CB Will Davis
40. DE Chris McCain
» Pro Bowl analysis: AFC | NFC » Complete roster

SELECTIONS

Cameron Wake, DE, fourth Pro Bowl selection: Wake led the Miami Dolphins with 11.5 sacks. This is the third time he's recorded double-digit sacks and most recently had a two-sack performance against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 16. At 32 years old, Wake is still going strong. He remains one of Miami's top players and has a knack for the big moment when his team needs a big play in crucial situations.

Who he beat out: There are some big names who didn't make the cut this year at defensive end. Jason-Pierre Paul of the New York Giants recorded 10.5 sacks -- one fewer than Wake -- and didn't make the Pro Bowl. Baltimore Ravens defensive end/outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who had 11 sacks, also had a Pro Bowl case for either position.

Brent Grimes, CB, third Pro Bowl selection: Grimes was one of Miami's most consistent players this season. He led the Dolphins with five interceptions -- including a pick-six -- and kept the secondary together through multiple injuries at cornerback and safety. Miami's pass defense is ranked No. 4 in the NFL. Grimes' one-handed, highlight-reel interception against Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in Week 10 also should be a play of the year candidate.

Who he beat out: There were not many snubs at cornerback this year. The eight that made it, including Grimes, were all deserving of the honor. But if I had to nitpick, Minnesota Vikings second-year cornerback Xavier Rhodes (47 tackles, one interception) played well this season but didn't have enough picks. He will only get better.

W2W4: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

December, 1, 2014
12/01/14
1:30
PM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Miami Dolphins (6-5) will play a national, prime-time game against the New York Jets (2-9) on ESPN's "Monday Night Football."

Here are three things to watch from Miami's perspective:

1. Toughen up: Miami’s defensive coaches and players admitted they were pushed around in last week’s loss to the Denver Broncos. The Dolphins allowed a season-high 39 points, 201 rushing yards and four passing touchdowns. However, Miami’s fifth-ranked defense expects a bounce-back performance against the Jets. Physicality and poor tackling were not issues for the Dolphins until last week. They are out to prove last week's poor performance was an anomaly.

2. Rattling Geno: The Dolphins have had a tough stretch of opposing quarterbacks. They have faced Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers in recent weeks. Miami’s defense should get a relative respite Monday against the Jets' Geno Smith, who is one of the NFL’s lowest-rated quarterbacks this season. Smith was named the starter this week after losing his job earlier in the season. New York’s passing game has been a mess and is ranked dead last in the NFL. Miami’s defense generally plays well against the pass and should have success in this matchup.

3. Who’s at cornerback? The Dolphins will enter the game very thin at cornerback. Starter Cortland Finnegan is listed as doubtful and not expected to play with an ankle injury and second-year backup Jamar Taylor is ruled out with a shoulder injury. That leaves Miami with limited options at corner opposite Pro Bowler Brent Grimes. The team has to choose between rookie Walt Aikens or R.J. Stanford, who was just signed off the street less than a week ago. Expect the Jets to attack whichever player starts in what could be a possible weakness in the Miami defense.

It should be an interesting divisional game at MetLife Stadium. Be sure to check out ESPN.com's Dolphins page and follow on Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL throughout the day and evening for all the latest news.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

November, 9, 2014
11/09/14
4:09
PM ET

DETROIT -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 20-16 loss Sunday to the Detroit Lions:

What it means: Miami has been very competitive on the road but had its three-game win streak snapped on the final drive when Lions running back Theo Riddick caught the winning touchdown over safety Reshad Jones with 29 seconds left in the game. The Dolphins couldn't do enough to hold a lead in the fourth quarter. The defense kept getting stops, but the offense couldn't score or put up long drives with consistency. The Dolphins gained just 236 yards of total offense. Similar to the last-second loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 6, this is another loss Miami could look to at the end of the season and wish it had back. The Dolphins are now 5-4 and two games behind the first-place New England Patriots (7-2) in the AFC East.

Stock watch: In terms of rising stock, Miami's defense did its job to hold the Lions' high-powered offense to just 20 points. The defense cleaned up a lot of messes from the offense, which struggled to sustain drives and had two turnovers. Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes had a tough assignment against Lions receiver Calvin Johnson; Grimes grabbed an astounding one-handed interception defending Johnson and also gave up a 49-yard touchdown. It was another hot-and-cold day for Miami's special teams. The Dolphins' third phase gave up a fake punt on the opening drive that led to three points for Detroit. Miami also tried a fake punt and failed because of an illegal shift. But a blocked field goal in the third quarter and subsequent 50-yard return by Dion Jordan gave the Dolphins second-half momentum.

Big loss of Albert: Dolphins starting left tackle Branden Albert suffered a potentially serious right knee injury in the second quarter and did not return to the game. Teammates looked on with concern as the medical staff called in a cart to take Albert off the field. He could not put any weight on his knee as he was being helped on the cart and taken into the tunnel. Miami signed Albert to a $47 million contract, and he was its biggest free-agent signing this past offseason.

Game ball: Defensive end Cameron Wake was a headache for the Lions. Wake recorded two sacks of Matthew Stafford and had two additional quarterback hits and a tackle for loss. With his pair of sacks, Wake moved into fifth place on Miami's all-time sack list with 60 in his career.

What's next: The Dolphins have a short turnaround in Week 11. Miami has just four days to prepare for its next game against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium. Buffalo (5-4) has had the Dolphins' number the past two years. The Bills are 3-0 against Miami in the past three meetings and have won four of the past five games in this divisional matchup.
DETROIT -- Sam Martin lined up to punt, looking like he has so many times during his first two years with the Detroit Lions.

Except two of the first three times he lined up to punt Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, he ended up not punting at all. Martin completed two fake punt passes in the first half Sunday, a 24-yard completion to Jed Collins that extended the first drive of the game and a 3-yard completion to Isa Abdul-Quddus that didn’t get enough to get a first down.

It is the first time a punter has thrown and completed two passes in a game since Nov. 11, 2012, when St. Louis’ Johnny Hekker completed two passes in a 24-24 tie against San Francisco.

Martin had never attempted a pass in his career before Sunday and was involved in one fake before that -- the Lions’ failed fake field goal at Pittsburgh last season, where Martin got crushed trying to run for a first down deep in Steelers' territory.

Miami also tried to get in the fake punt game, but illegally shifted on its converted fake punt run, eliminating the play and forcing the Dolphins to actually punt.

It was all part of a crazy first half that saw a 49-yard one-play drive by Detroit with a deep post for a touchdown to Calvin Johnson.

There were also interceptions on back-to-back plays in the second quarter: A James Ihedigbo pick of Ryan Tannehill that was returned 70 yards into Miami territory. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford tried to take advantage of Brent Grimes on Johnson on the next play, but Grimes leaped up and made a one-handed interception in the end zone to give the ball back to Miami.

Oh, and in the first quarter, Detroit held Miami to 1 total yard.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- It's one thing for the Miami Dolphins to rattle Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. But it is another thing to do the same against MVP candidate Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers.

[+] EnlargePhilip Rivers
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyThe Miami Dolphins held Philip Rivers to 138 yards and picked off three of his passes on Sunday.
The Dolphins' defense claimed another quarterback victim in Sunday's 37-0 blowout victory over San Diego. Miami pummeled and baffled Rivers on his way to one of the worst performances of his career. He was 12-of-23 passing for 138 yards, three interceptions and one lost fumble.

Miami now has victories this season over quarterbacks Tom Brady, Derek Carr, Jay Cutler, Bortles and Rivers. But Sunday was the most complete defensive performance of the season. The squad allowed just 178 yards. Rivers was pulled from the game late in the third quarter.

"It probably couldn't have come at a better time," Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake said. "This was a game we felt that we matched up well."

How did the Dolphins shut down the Chargers? Miami pressured Rivers with three sacks, and the secondary (three interceptions) was aggressive in sticking to San Diego's receivers. The Dolphins also kept defenders back to avoid the big play. Rivers was 0-for-6 with two interceptions on throws of 15 yards or more, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Dolphins' defense also received help from their offense, which scored 14 points on the first two drives and quickly made the Chargers one-dimensional. San Diego's offense became predictable in the second quarter, when Miami led 20-0.

The Dolphins' secondary also had one of its best games in coverage. Miami cornerback Brent Grimes had the assignment of shutting down San Diego's No. 1 receiver, Keenan Allen. Twice Grimes picked off Rivers on attempts to Allen. Dolphins safety Reshad Jones had another interception.

Miami's pressure forced several poor decisions by Rivers.

"First of all, I want to thank our D-line, who played incredible," Grimes said. "Linebackers, too, for getting to the quarterback and just pressuring him, not letting him step up and make easy throws."

The Dolphins, at 5-3, have their best record in the first half of the season since 2003. One reason Miami is two games above .500 is its defense is holding opposing quarterbacks to a 76.9 passer rating.

"I was terrible," Rivers said. "And when the quarterback's terrible, it's hard to win."

The Dolphins' defense entered Week 9 fifth in yards allowed and seventh in yards per game. This is a group earning its stripes as one of the NFL's best this season.

With the defense leading the way, Miami is aiming to break a six-year playoff drought. The Dolphins now own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chargers (5-4).

"We treated this game like a playoff game," Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. "This is a game where, if we win this, the odds of seeing the playoffs are higher, and we knew that. This is one we got to have."
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 37-0 victory over the San Diego Chargers:
  • Miller
    Miami starting running back Lamar Miller injured his shoulder in the second half and didn’t return to the game. But Miller said in the locker room that he was fine and should be ready to go next Sunday against the Detroit Lions. "I'm doing good," Miller said. "It was just a little stinger for the most part, but I'm good. I will get treatment, and I will be all right."
  • Miami's defensive players were happy about maintaining the shutout against San Diego. "You don't see it that much in the NFL," said Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes, who had two interceptions. It was the Dolphins' first shutout victory since 2006.
  • Overall it was a festive mood in Miami's locker room. Players were excited about the blowout win and believe it made a statement. The Dolphins (5-3) certainly will command more respect on a national scale after this victory.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

November, 2, 2014
11/02/14
4:10
PM ET

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 37-0 victory Sunday over the San Diego Chargers:

What it means: It is time for the Dolphins to be taken seriously as a playoff contender at the midpoint of the season. Miami (5-3) won its third straight game -- and to manhandle the Chargers (5-4), another playoff contender, from start to finish was an impressive feat. Miami took a 20-0 lead at halftime and never looked back. This was as dominant and complete a performance that I've seen from Miami against a quality opponent in a long time.

It was the Dolphins' first shutout win since December 2006 against the New England Patriots. According to ESPN Stats & Information, this also ended San Diego's streak of 241 straight games without being shut out. There are a lot of teams in the AFC mix for the playoffs, and the Dolphins deserve to be added to that list.

Stock watch: This was a complete victory. Therefore, the stock for Miami's offense and defense are on the rise after Sunday's game. The Dolphins' offense finally got off to a lightning-fast start by scoring back-to-back touchdowns on the first two drives of the first quarter. Miami also started the third quarter with a touchdown drive to take a commanding 27-0 lead. The Dolphins' defense harassed San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers (138 yards) all game and picked him off three times. The Chargers waived the white flag and pulled Rivers late in the third quarter. San Diego had no answers on either side of the football.

Grimes shines: Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes had his strongest game of the season with two interceptions of Rivers. Grimes had blanket coverage on Keenan Allen throughout the game and held the Chargers' No. 1 receiver in check with just four catches for 47 yards. Grimes now has three interceptions in the past two games.

Game ball: Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill bounced back from an average game last week against Jacksonville with a stellar game against the Chargers. Tannehill threw for 288 yards, three touchdowns and a 125.6 passer rating. He completed 11 of his first 13 attempts and was decisive and accurate with the football.

What's next: The quality of competition does not stop. The Dolphins continue their challenging month of November next week with a road game against the first-place Detroit Lions (6-2). Detroit is coming off a bye week and is 3-1 at home this season.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins are putting up some astounding statistics in the first half of the season throughout their 4-3 start.

One impressive but overlooked stat is Miami's NFL-best 259 yards on interception returns. The Dolphins are on pace to break their franchise mark of 522 yards for interception returns set in 1966. Miami's 43.2 return yards per interception also would be a new NFL record for a single season.

[+] EnlargeLouis Delmas
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP PhotoDolphins free safety Louis Delmas returns an intercepted pass 81 yards for a touchdown past Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts.
The Dolphins have interception returns of 81, 50, 43, 32, 31 and 22 yards this season. Two interceptions from safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Brent Grimes went for touchdowns in Sunday's 27-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Miami's lengthy interception returns are not an accident. Dolphins' defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said he's making a conscious effort to practice interception returns more than any time in his three seasons with Miami. His focus is quickly getting all 11 players in sync after a turnover and in position to advance.

"We've done drills in the past, but we came up with a new one this year that I think is getting everybody on the same page as to where to go, how to set the blocks up and how to return the ball," Coyle explained. "It's been effective for us and hopefully we'll see it continue as the year goes on. We've just got to keep getting interceptions and see how much it works."

Miami's drills on interception returns are detailed. According to Dolphins' coaches, players practice specific blocking assignments after turnovers each week, similar to what you may see on a long kickoff or punt return. One of the best examples was two weeks ago against the Chicago Bears when Dolphins safety Reshad Jones picked off quarterback Jay Cutler and benefited from several clean blocks downfield during a 50-yard return.

"There's semi-art to it, if you will. ...It's something we like to teach a lot and they take pride in it," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said.

The Dolphins' defense excels at changing field position after turnovers and providing the offense a boost with hidden yards. In addition to the 259 yards on interception returns, Miami cornerback Cortland Finnegan also has a 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown in Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders. The Dolphins are tied with the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers with three defensive touchdowns this season.

Miami's defense certainly knows what to do with the ball in its hands, and its third-rated pass defense will get a stern test Sunday against MVP candidate and San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

"As a defensive player, our mindset is to go against the best," Delmas said. "We have a [Hall of Fame] yellow-jacket quarterback coming in that we know has some interest in making every DB look bad."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 27-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars:
  • Grimes
    Grimes
    Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes knows it's rare for a defensive player to get into the end zone. Therefore, he savored every moment of his pick-six Sunday off Jacksonville rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. Grimes had a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter and gave the football to his wife, Miko Grimes, as a keepsake. It was Grimes’ second career touchdown in eight seasons. "You know, I always do that," Grimes said, laughing.
  • Defensive lineman Jared Odrick said he was cheering the whole way for his teammates to get in the end zone during Miami’s interception returns. Grimes’ 22-yard return was of the shorter variety. But safety Louis Delmas had an 81-yard return in the second quarter that opened the scoring. "It's an awesome thing," Odrick said after the game.
  • Delmas said he was gassed after his 81-yard return. "Dead tired," Delmas said, laughing. "I never thought I'd be out of shape. But I definitely have to go back to Miami and rush a couple gassers."
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (3-3) held their first practice of the week Tuesday in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6).

Here are some notes and observations from Miami’s practice:
  • Joseph
    Jordan
    Former No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan returned to practice Tuesday. Following a six-game suspension, this was the first time Jordan put on a Dolphins uniform since the final preseason game Aug. 29. Jordan worked with the defensive line and on special teams in the early portion of practice open to the media. Miami’s coaching staff said they must see where Jordan is physically before determining his role.
  • Dolphins backup safety Jimmy Wilson did not practice in the portion open to the media. Wilson missed his first game of the season last week with a hamstring injury. Backup safety Michael Thomas replaced Wilson in the nickel.
  • Miami Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes practiced Tuesday, which is good news considering he did not finish Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall shoved Miami Dolphins cornerback Cortland Finnegan following the last offensive play in Miami's 27-14 victory.

Finnegan
The two emotional veterans have a history of confrontations from previous battles. It also didn't help that Marshall lost to his former team, which added to his frustration.

But when asked about their brief squabble, Finnegan shrugged it off in front of the media and quickly wanted to switch topics.

"I'm not sure," Finnegan said. "I know we won the game and that's all that matters."

Several of Finnegan's teammates nearby in the locker room began to laugh, as though Finnegan had much more to say about Marshall before the media arrived. Finnegan then smiled but refused to elaborate on the situation.

"It was just a good team victory," Finnegan said with a sly grin.

Sunday was a victory for Miami's little guys. Much was made of the height difference between Chicago's receivers Marshall (6-feet-4) and Alshon Jeffrey (6-3) against Miami corners Finnegan (5-10) and Brent Grimes (5-10).

Finnegan, in particular, was coming off a poor outing with several missed tackles and poor coverage in a loss to the Green Bay Packers. Finnegan said during the week he must play better or find a seat on the bench.

But the veteran corner responded with his best game of the season and a tough assignment against Marshall and Jeffrey. Finnegan finished with four tackles, a team-high four pass defenses and a forced fumble.

"It was huge," Finnegan said of bouncing back. "But I have the support of my team and my coaches, and that's big. ...The fact that you have all those intangibles with the young guys, coaches and Brent [Grimes] pushing you, it's helpful for everybody."
CHICAGO -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 27-14 win over the Chicago Bears:

Wallace
Wallace
On the rebound: The Dolphins felt vindicated after their bounce-back performance Sunday evening. Many questioned if Miami would bounce back from last week's deflating, last-second loss to the Green Bay Packers. But the Dolphins put forth one of their most impressive games on both sides of the football, proving they have the talent to play with most teams. Now, the Dolphins must work on their consistency. "People just last week were telling us we were trash," receiver Mike Wallace said. "So we've got to keep our head up and stay focused, no matter good or bad."

Win for the little guys: Much was made of the size difference this week between Bears receivers Brandon Marshall (6-foot-4) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3) against Miami cornerbacks Brent Grimes (5-10) and Cortland Finnegan (5-10). But the corners won this matchup. Marshall and Jeffery combined for just eight receptions for 57 yards. Finnegan and Grimes were physical and covered well for most of the game. "You guys made a story of it," Finnegan said afterward. "But Brent said it earlier; we go against receivers who always are bigger than us. It's just one of those things."

Tannehill's wheels: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is running the ball more and it's paying dividends. Head coach Joe Philbin praised Tannehill's wheels after the quarterback rushed for 48 yards on six carries. Tannehill made a long run of 30 yards that gave the Dolphins a lot of momentum. He now has a 30-yard run and a 40-yard run in back-to-back weeks. "He's done a very consistent job in it," Philbin said. "I think it's repetition, repetition, repetition. It paid off today a couple times."
DAVIE, Fla. -- Smallish Miami Dolphins cornerback Cortland Finnegan has figured out a solution for defending big Chicago Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

Finnegan
“Unless we sign (NBA player) Luol Deng, (who) just signed with the Heat...” Finnegan joked. “We’re 5-10. So we’ve just got to deal with that. That’s really all I’ve got for you. I don’t know if much changes other than that. I’m 5-10, so is Brent. So we’ll figure it out.”

Expect size to be an issue for the Dolphins’ secondary Sunday against the Bears. Miami starting cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Finnegan are both 5-foot-10, while Marshall is 6-4 and Jeffery is 6-3. Rest assured Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is looking forward to throwing high passes Sunday and taking advantage of Chicago’s size advantage, especially in the red zone. Both Chicago starting receivers surpassed 100 yards receiving in last week’s win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins had trouble last week defending the size of Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, who is 6-3. Nelson had nine receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown in Miami’s 27-24 loss.

Grimes
Grimes
Still, Marshall is not overlooking the Dolphins' cornerbacks.

“There is no mismatch out there,” said Marshall, who played two years in Miami from 2010-2011. “This is probably going to be the best secondary that we face all year. Grimes is a technician. He’s super-duper focused. I don’t understand how this guy wasn’t drafted. I don’t understand how the Falcons let him go. ... We all know about Cortland. He’s hyper-competitive and he makes plays on the ball.”

Grimes and Finnegan didn’t have their best games last week against Green Bay. Nelson beat Grimes several times, including the touchdown catch, while Finnegan struggled with tackling.

Miami needs a pair of standout performances from its starting cornerbacks against Marshall and Jeffery in order to stall Chicago's offense and pull off the road upset.

“It’s the 24-hour rule,” Finnegan said of bouncing back. “I think the Chicago Bears don’t give a rip what happened against the Green Bay Packers. So we’ve got to go out there and give them our best.”

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