NFL Nation: Cortland Finnegan

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (7-6) held their third practice of the week in preparation for the New England Patriots (10-3).

Here are some notes and observations:
  • Misi
    The Dolphins were without starting linebackers Jelani Jenkins (foot) and Koa Misi (hamstring, knee) for the third straight practice. This is an awful sign for Miami, who could be very thin at the position. Without Jenkins and Misi, the Dolphins might look to backups Jason Trusnik and Kelvin Sheppard as potential replacements. The Patriots will look to exploit the matchup with tight end Rob Gronkowski.
  • Cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Jamar Taylor practiced for the third straight day, which is an encouraging sign. Finnegan missed the past three games with an ankle injury, and Taylor missed the past two with a shoulder injury. Miami needs its cornerback depth against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
  • Backup guard Nate Garner and rookie defensive back Walt Aikens were not present during Thursday’s portion of practice open to the media. Garner has an illness. Aikens had no reported injuries on Wednesday.

The Dolphins will release their final injury report with game designations on Friday. They will travel to Foxborough on Saturday in preparation for Sunday’s must-win game.
The Miami Dolphins (7-6) will travel to face the New England Patriots (10-3) in a must-win game Sunday.

Here is the team's official injury report on Wednesday:

Did not practice: LB Koa Misi (hamstring, knee), LB Jelani Jenkins (foot), LB Jonathan Freeny (hamstring), G Nate Garner (illness)

Limited practice: TE Charles Clay (hamstring, knee), CB Cortland Finnegan (ankle), LB Chris McCain (ankle), CB Jamar Taylor (shoulder)

Full practice: DE Dion Jordan (ankle), TE Dion Sims (neck), S Jimmy Wilson (hamstring)

Analysis: The Dolphins are hurting at linebacker. Two starters -- Misi and Jenkins -- missed practice for the second straight day. Their status for Sunday is in question. They may have to look at backup options such as Jason Trusnik, Kelvin Sheppard or Chris McCain. Taylor and Finnegan were limited but both appear promising for the Patriots game. They are certainly needed against New England quarterback Tom Brady and the NFL’s seventh-ranked passing game.
DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins (7-6) began their preparation Tuesday for this weekend’s game against the New England Patriots (10-3).

Here are some notes and observations from Miami’s practice:
  • The Dolphins are a banged-up team heading into a must-win game. Starting linebackers Koa Misi (hamstring) and Jelani Jenkins (foot) were not practicing in the portion open to the media. Both players were injured in Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Backups such as Jason Trusnik and Kelvin Sheppard are candidates to start if either linebacker cannot play.
  • Miami rookie outside linebacker Chris McCain (ankle) and receiver Jarvis Landry also spent time working with the trainer in early portion of practice open to the media. Landry injured his knee against the Ravens but returned to the game.
  • The Dolphins could have depth returning at cornerback. Starter Cortland Finnegan (ankle) and backup Jamar Taylor (shoulder) both practiced in the portion open to the media. Backup RJ Stanford started the past two games and would be replaced if either player returned.
  • It’s a big week for Dolphins right tackle Dallas Thomas. He gave up three sacks against Baltimore on Sunday and could be skating on thin ice. Miami coaches have been mum on potential lineup changes. Thomas for backup Jason Fox would be at the top of the list if coaches go in that direction. Thomas must have a good week of practice.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (7-5) will host the Baltimore Ravens (7-5) Sunday in a big game with playoff implications.

Here is a look at the players who won’t suit up for Miami:
There are no major surprises for Miami. Finnegan struggled on his ankle all week and was listed doubtful. The Dolphins must rely on backups RJ Stanford, Walt Aikens and nickel corner Jimmy Wilson to fill in.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 16-13 win over the New York Jets.

Finnegan
Relieved: The Dolphins knew they didn't play their best game on "Monday Night Football," but there was a big sense of relief in the locker room afterward. Veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who was inactive Monday, walked around the locker room saying loudly to teammates, "We'll take it! We'll take it!" The Dolphins (7-5) earned their previous six victories by an average of 19 points per game.

Respect for the Jets: Although nearly everyone on the outside wrote off the 2-10 Jets, Dolphins players said they expected a tough game from the start. New York gave Miami all it could handle and took a touchdown lead into the fourth quarter. "The Jets play us tough every year," Dolphins safety Reshad Jones said. "It's a division opponent so we knew what we were facing."

Quick turnaround: The Dolphins won't celebrate this win for very long. Head coach Joe Philbin said there won't be much time to study the game tape, because the Dolphins have to quickly turn the page to prepare for the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Miami players will take Tuesday off while the coaches put together the game plan for Baltimore.

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.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins concluded their second practice in preparation for the New York Jets.

Here is the Thursday injury report for Miami:

Taylor
Ruled out: LB Jonathan Freeny (hamstring), CB Jamar Taylor (shoulder)

Limited practice: WR Mike Wallace (chest), TE Charles Clay (hamstring, knee), G Daryn Colledge (back), CB Cortland Finnegan (ankle), LT Ja'Wuan James (neck)

Full practice: G Nate Garner (illness), QB Ryan Tannehill (left shoulder), WR Jarvis Landry (shoulder), RB Lamar Miller (knee), LB Koa Misi (ankle, knee), S Jimmy Wilson (hamstring)

Analysis: The Dolphins are in pretty good shape entering Week 13. Most of their "limited" players are expected to be ready for Monday’s rivalry game against the Jets. Finnegan, who missed the past two games with an ankle injury, is the major question mark. He worked primarily with trainers on Wednesday’s portion of practice open to the media, but increased his workload on Thursday. The Dolphins need depth at cornerback, especially with Taylor already ruled out against New York with a shoulder injury.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (6-5) continued their preparation for the New York Jets (2-9) with a Thanksgiving Day practice.

Here are some notes and observations from Thursday's session:
  • Wallace
    Wallace
    The Dolphins had plenty of good news on the injury front. The biggest was No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace practiced after missing Wednesday's session. Starting middle linebacker Koa Misi, who also missed Wednesday, returned to practice. Both are expected to play on Monday against the Jets.
  • Miami starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan missed the past two games with an ankle injury. But he participated in practice for the first time this week. Finnegan dressed, but worked with trainers on Wednesday. The Dolphins need cornerback depth.
  • Two players who are not expected to play against the Jets are Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor (shoulder) and linebacker Jonathan Freeny (hamstring). Both players missed their second straight practice.
  • Dolphins left tackle Ja'Wuan James, who was knocked out of Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos with a shoulder stinger, practiced for the second straight day. Starting tight end Charles Clay also practiced again and appears poised to return after missing last week's game.
DENVER -- Here are the Miami Dolphins' inactive players for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos: Analysis: Clay, who has hamstring and knee injuries, is a big loss for the offense. He's third on the team with 39 receptions and takes away a reliable weapon for starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Backup tight end Dion Sims will get the start in place of Clay. Finnegan, as expected, is out with an ankle injury. This is a big game for backup corner Jamar Taylor in his second career start.
DAVIE, Fla. -- For the first time this season, Peyton Manning looks human on the football field. He has struggled in two of his past three games, including the Denver Broncos' 22-7 defeat Sunday to the St. Louis Rams.

Manning looks hurried in the pocket behind a struggling offensive line. He's making bad throws and bad decisions, which is evident in his six interceptions the past three games. Manning also doesn't look like the same dominant quarterback with several of his supporting cast dealing with injuries.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelThe Dolphins' defense is working on disguising its blitzes and coverages to keep Broncos QB Peyton Manning on the move in Week 12.
But you wouldn't know it by listening to players and coaches with the Miami Dolphins (6-4) this week. They expect the best version of Manning -- the elite Manning -- Sunday when they travel to play the Broncos (7-3) in a big game with playoff implications.

"Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning," said Dolphins cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who has played against Manning several times in his career. "He's going to move the football. The biggest thing for us is points. He could have 500 yards passing. As long as we limit the points, that's big for us."

The Dolphins' defense, which is ranked No. 2 in yards per game, is playing as good as any team in recent weeks. The Dolphins are also ranked No. 2 in pass defense and haven't allowed a touchdown in two of their past three games. It's a major reason they are 5-2 in the past seven games.

Still, it sounds as if Miami is expecting a shootout Sunday. The Broncos are the fifth-highest-scoring team in the NFL, averaging 29.3 points per game. Manning already has 30 touchdown passes in 10 games. The Dolphins do not envision the type of low-scoring games they've had against the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions or Jacksonville Jaguars in recent weeks.

"That's obvious to us that we're playing one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best quarterback, to ever play the game," Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said Tuesday. "So we have to put up some points. We don't even [have to] talk about it. ... We know we have to put up more points. We know our defense will need a little more help."

Manning isn't the first elite quarterback Miami faced this season. The team beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Week 1 and lost a nail-biter to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Week 6. So playing a quarterback of Manning's caliber will not be foreign.

The key, according to the Dolphins, will be disguising their blitzes and coverages. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has done a good job in his third year of knowing when to drop back seven or eight players and when to blitz to pressure the quarterback.

Rest assured, Manning is studying all of Miami's defensive looks this week.

"I don't know how many things Peyton hasn't seen in the years he's been playing. He is remarkable," Coyle said. "Talking with people who have been around him, he's got almost a photogenic memory. When he sees something, he locks it in and can retrieve it a year later or two years later."

The Rams and Patriots have provided a fine blueprint of how to rattle Manning this season. Both teams made sure to get plenty of pressure on the future Hall of Fame quarterback, even if it didn't result in sacks. One of Miami's biggest strengths is the defensive line, which has a distinct advantage over Denver's offensive line.

Miami's defense has played very well all season but flown mostly under the radar. Getting the best of Manning in his house would certainly raise its profile.

"This is what you play the game for, these type of games," Dolphins safety Reshad Jones said. "I think it will be a great atmosphere, a great time of the season. We're playing against one of the top offenses there is. It's our time to go out, make our plays and make a statement."
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (6-4) began preparation for Sunday’s big game against the Denver Broncos (7-3).

Here are several notes and observations from Tuesday’s session:
  • Finnegan
    The major injury concern this week is the ankle of starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who did not participate in the portion of practice open to the media. Finnegan was injured in a Week 10 loss to the Detroit Lions and missed last week’s game against Buffalo Bills. Finnegan is needed this week against Denver's variety of offensive weapons.
  • Miami backup linebacker Jonathan Freeny, as expected, also did not practice. Freeny suffered a hamstring against the Bills, and multiple sources tell ESPN.com Freeny is expected to miss approximately four weeks. Freeny is one of the team’s better special-teams players. The Dolphins also lost backup corner Will Davis and backup safety Michael Thomas in recent weeks, which also hurts their special teams.
  • Miami’s practice bubble was purposely made colder by head coach Joe Philbin. His team hasn’t played in a game below 50 degrees all season. It’s expected to be around 30-35 degrees in Denver on Sunday.
  • The Dolphins received some good injury news. Starting guard Daryn Colledge practiced, which is a good sign he could return Sunday. Colledge missed the past two games with a back injury. If healthy, Colledge would start over Shelley Smith at left guard.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Here are the Miami Dolphins' players you won't see in Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Bills:
There are no surprises in this group for Miami. Colledge (back) was doubtful coming back on a short week. James was promoted to the 53-man roster for the first time this week but isn't active Thursday.
DETROIT -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 20-16 loss to the Detroit Lions:

Albert
Albert
Albert concerns: Several Dolphins players expressed concern for the health of starting left tackle Branden Albert, who was carted off the field due to a second-quarter knee injury and did not return. Although there is no official timeline, the feeling in the Dolphins' locker room is that this is not a short-term injury and Miami will have to adjust its offensive line going forward. Albert was not in the locker room when the media arrived. But Miami rookie offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James said he talked to Albert and he's "in high spirits."

Finnegan optimistic: Albert wasn't the only Dolphins player who couldn't finish the game. Starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan injured his left ankle in the second half and didn't return. Finnegan said after the game that he is hopeful he can play Thursday but isn't sure.

Next game up: The Dolphins were disappointed about Sunday's loss. But players in the locker room realized they couldn't sulk for long. Miami (5-4) will play the Buffalo Bills (5-4) on Thursday in what could turn out to be an elimination game for these AFC East teams. "This has got to be a quick turnaround," center Samson Satele said. "It sucks right now, but as soon as we land [in Miami] we have to focus on Buffalo."
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."

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