NFL Nation: Jamar Taylor

W2W4: Miami Dolphins

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16
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The Miami Dolphins (0-1) will travel to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium.

1. Tannehill's momentum: Has Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill fully turned the corner in Bill Lazor's new offense? It's too early to tell. But last week's 6-for-6 passing performance for 62 yards and a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons certainly provides reason for optimism. Tannehill played only one series in the preseason opener but carried that momentum into a solid week of practice. He finished training camp on a strong note with several good practices heading into Saturday's game. Now, Tannehill must continue to build off that momentum with a solid outing against Tampa Bay.

2. Will tackling improve? The Dolphins were a poor-tackling defense in 2013. Last week's preseason opener against Atlanta offered more of the same. Therefore, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin put a major focus on form tackling this week. Philbin hopes those sessions pay dividends and that his defense tackles much better this week, especially when the starters play in the first half. Keep a close eye on Miami's starting linebackers, who must improve this year.

3. Changes in secondary: The Dolphins received bad news just hours before last week's exhibition game when starting safety Reshad Jones was suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances. Jones started anyway against Atlanta, because it was too late for Miami to adjust the secondary. However, the Dolphins made several changes in practice this week by inserting backup Jimmy Wilson into the starting lineup and making Jones a backup. Wilson also had to give up his nickel corner role. Miami is still trying to decide who will take that job. Candidates include starting corner Cortland Finnegan, corner Jamar Taylor and backup safety Michael Thomas.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Players never know when opportunity will knock in the NFL. For Miami Dolphins backup safety Jimmy Wilson, his big chance happened this weekend after a four-game suspension to starter Reshad Jones.

Wilson got first-team reps in training camp for the first time on Sunday. Jones was handed a four-game suspension on Friday after violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, which potentially thrusts Wilson into the starting lineup.

Although the Dolphins haven't made a firm decision, Wilson is the most likely candidate to start in Weeks 1-4 for Miami. He has been the first safety off the bench and the team's nickel cornerback all offseason.

“He’s had a lot of training there,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of Wilson. “He's gotten a lot of reps at that position over a long period of time. Our defense system has been in place now going on three years. I think he knows the defense very well.”

Wilson, a former seventh-round pick, said he's not sure what this will mean for his role as Miami's nickel corner. It's an important job. But it most likely will be handed over to someone else while Wilson works on being a full-time starting safety. Other candidates for the nickel spot include cornerback Jamar Taylor and backup safety Michael Thomas.

The Dolphins’ first-team defense was inconsistent in Friday’s 16-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Wilson was among those players who left some opportunities on the field. Miami is making it a point this week to focus on fundamentals defensively.

“We got a lot missed tackles last week,” Wilson admitted. “We just plan on making sure that we get guys down, use our technique and be better tacklers.”

The Dolphins’ defense is expected to be the strength of the team even with the suspensions of Jones and defensive end Dion Jordan. Players like Wilson must step up to keep Miami’s defense intact to start the regular season.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 5

July, 30, 2014
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DAVIE, Fla. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:


  • It was another sloppy day for the offense. The Dolphins are experiencing growing pains learning an up-tempo scheme under first-year coordinator Bill Lazor. This was one of those sessions where the Dolphins had poor throws, numerous drops and offensive line issues. I counted at least five drops by Miami receivers in what was probably the worst practice by the offense since the opening day of training camp. "I obviously haven’t looked at the film yet, but my instincts tell me that the defense had the upper hand," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin admitted.
  • The center position is starting to become a major concern. For the second day in a row, Shelley Smith had two errant snaps to quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The second bad snap was a ground ball that skipped past Tannehill in team drills. Soon after, backup center Nate Garner finished practice on the first team. Miami tried several different combinations in an effort to find the best five on the line. In addition to Garner, rookie guard Billy Turner also worked with the first-team offense at times on Wednesday.
  • The play of the day goes to Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline. Early in team drills Hartline beat cornerback Jamar Taylor deep for a 60-plus yard touchdown reception. Miami’s offense protected Tannehill enough for him to throw a pretty deep ball that Hartline caught in stride. To Taylor’s credit, he responded with an interception of Tannehill and had a couple of tipped passes.
  • The three punt returners Wednesday were receivers Marcus Thigpen, Jarvis Landry and Rantavious Wooten. Thigpen is the incumbent but must compete to keep his job with punt and kick returns.
  • On the injury front, Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace had the day off. He said earlier this week his hamstring was tight. Backup center Sam Brenner, who was carted off the field Tuesday, did not practice but spent time on the sideline watching the offensive line. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey (hip) and running back Knowshon Moreno (knee) continue to be on the physically unable to perform list and worked on the side with a team trainer.

The Dolphins will continue their training camp Thursday at 8 a.m. ET.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins took the field for the first of three practices during mandatory minicamp. It was a high-energy first session in what serves as a preview to training camp.

Here are seven observations from Tuesday's practice:
  • It was a strong day for the Dolphins' defense. Miami's defense was disruptive all practice and, by my count, recorded three interceptions and at least four would-be sacks. (The defense is not allowed to hit quarterbacks in practice.) The Dolphins' defense has been together for three seasons and has been well ahead of the offense on days practice was open to the media. “There's going to be days where one side of the ball has the upper hand,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “It looked like the back end and the linebackers, we were doing some good things from a coverage standpoint.”
  • Miami receiver Brandon Gibson continues to make progress from last year's season-ending patella tendon tear. Gibson participated in team drills for the first time this offseason. He still doesn't look 100 percent but is moving around relatively well. At this point Gibson looks well on pace to be ready by Week 1.
  • Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor had arguably his best practice of the offseason. Taylor, who got reps on the first team, recorded a sideline interception off Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Taylor also showed some athleticism by blowing up a running play. Taylor was injured must of last year but is making strong strides this offseason.
  • The Dolphins' coaching staff is putting several veterans on the maintenance program during minicamp. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, defensive tackle Jared Odrick and cornerback Cortland Finnegan sat out team drills Tuesday. It is unknown if that will change during the week.
  • After a plan to renovate Sun Life Stadium was passed by the Miami-Dade County Commission in a 7-4 vote, Philbin credited owner Stephen Ross. “Most important to me is it shows the commitment our owner, Stephen Ross, has to making this a world-class organization,” Philbin said.
  • Miami rookie defensive end Terrence Fede had the play of the day. Fede, who is 6-foot-4 and 277 pounds, dropped in coverage and made a leaping interception off Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore. Fede then advanced the ball about 10 yards as his defensive teammates celebrated.
  • Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan continues to flash in practice. He had another would-be sack on Tannehill coming off the corner. Jordan put on about 17 pounds of muscle since last year and looks ready to make a second-year jump after an ineffective rookie year.

Miami will continue its three-day minicamp on Wednesday morning.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins second-year cornerback Jamar Taylor looks quicker and more explosive than he did a year ago. For the first time in his NFL career, he enters offseason workouts 100 percent healthy.

The Dolphins drafted Taylor in the second round last year despite a pre-draft kidney ailment and subsequent sports hernia that kept him out for most of the offseason. Taylor spent the regular season fighting off injuries and trying to earn playing time. He finished with just 40 snaps on defense.

[+] EnlargeJamar Taylor
Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SportsJamar Taylor is looking to bounce back from an injury-marred rookie season.
But Taylor enters his second year with the Dolphins a more confident player. Taylor has a chance to earn a role on the defense and is out to prove he can live up to his pre-draft billing.

“It's getting there. He's definitely coming back out,” Taylor said recently during organized team activities (OTAs). “That person ya'll seen talk a lot, it's getting there. But I got to learn. I got to crawl before I can walk. I'm out here trying to pick these older guys' brain.”

Taylor is surrounded by veterans in the secondary such as safety Louis Delmas and cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan. Finnegan happens to be Taylor's biggest competition for a starting job this summer. The Dolphins are having a three-way battle between Taylor, Finnegan and Will Davis for the right to start at cornerback opposite Grimes.

If Taylor can win a starting job -- or even the nickel cornerback role -- it will be a sizable turnaround from last season.

“I think it's more motivation for myself. I have high expectations of myself,” Taylor said. “I can't really worry about what everyone else thinks, as long as I get the respect of my teammates, my coaches and myself.”

Last year wasn't just a poor start for Taylor. The entire 2013 Dolphins draft class had little production. Miami had the third-fewest snaps (1,126) by a rookie class in the NFL last year. Only the AFC champion Denver Broncos (1,066 snaps) and Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (1,111 snaps) had less production from their rookies.

The Dolphins are hoping players such as Taylor, Davis, defensive end Dion Jordan and guard Dallas Thomas all can make the jump in Year 2 and find significant roles on the team this season.

“I think it was a learning experience for all of us,” Taylor said. “We all came here on our high horse and we got humbled real quick. I think we got to keep working. I expect all of us to do good, keep learning, play fast and compete.”
Jamar Taylor, Dion Jordan and Will Davis AP Photo, Getty ImagesJamar Taylor, Dion Jordan and Will Davis made a minimal impact as rookies.
Most of the attention over the next three weeks will be focused on the 2014 NFL draft, as each team tries to shape its present and future by identifying the right college players to fill needs.

But for the Miami Dolphins, success or failure this season will depend more on the development of the 2013 draft class. Few teams got less production from their rookies last year than Miami. Only the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks had fewer snaps from first-year players -- and those teams, which competed in Super Bowl XLVIII, were stacked with established veterans.

The Dolphins, who faltered down the stretch and finished 8-8, did not have that luxury.

It's time for Miami's second-year players to come of age during an important time for many within the organization. Head coach Joe Philbin is entering an important third year after going 15-17 his first two seasons, and there could be a lot of change next year if the Dolphins aren't successful.

Most of Miami's top picks -- including defensive end Dion Jordan, offensive lineman Dallas Thomas and cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis -- basically had red-shirt seasons in 2013, thanks to injuries, inconsistency and lack of confidence from the coaching staff. That lack of production was one reason why the Dolphins failed to get to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.

"They got less than anybody in the league out of their draft class, and they had high picks. That's a huge issue," ESPN.com NFL scout Matt Williamson said. "But if that group, the corners and especially Jordan, can play up to what Miami thought they were and what most people thought they were, the Dolphins could rebound."

"We have a lot of hope for the draft class from last year," Philbin said at the NFL owners meetings in late March. "A lot of them have been back early, working. You want to see development throughout the course of an individual player's career, but I think all of you guys would agree you usually see a significant jump between Year 1 and Year 2. These are guys we thought highly of a year ago when we drafted them.

"They had some injury issues that kind of curtailed their development in Year 1. So I'm excited about working with them, developing them and seeing them progress here this season."

The 2013 draft class was one point of contention last year between Miami's coaching staff and the front office. Philbin didn't feel his rookies were ready to take on larger roles. Jeff Ireland, then the Dolphins' general manager, believed in the talent of his draft picks and felt they were not being used properly. Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, was perhaps the biggest example.

Due to offseason shoulder surgery, Jordan missed time in training camp and the preseason. He never found his footing in the regular season and he fell behind veteran defensive ends Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby.

Williamson described Jordan as "a ridiculous athlete." He has immense potential but spent most of the season as the third or fourth defensive end and on special teams. He was involved in 321 snaps and had a disappointing 26 tackles and two sacks.

There have also been offseason trade rumors involving Jordan, which Philbin has denied. Miami's head coach expects Jordan to have a larger role in 2014.

"We feel like with a full offseason, with more time devoted to his fundamentals, he will have a better grasp of the position he's playing," Philbin said. "We do want to do a better job with the numbers, rotating him in. ... We want to get him more snaps on first and second down. "

The Dolphins also are counting on young corners Taylor and Davis, who were drafted in the second and third round, respectively. Both had injury setbacks last season and played a combined 104 snaps.

Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes will occupy one starting job, and Taylor and Davis will compete with veteran free-agent acquisition Cortland Finnegan for the other spot. Finnegan, a former Pro Bowl corner, is the favorite to start due to experience. But Philbin is not going in with any preconceived notions.

"I want to see the best player, whoever can help us win football games," Philbin explained. "Whoever performs the best should be the starting corner."

Miami got most of its rookie production last year from unlikely sources. Fifth-round kicker Caleb Sturgis proved to be the Dolphins' best rookie acquisition last season. He beat out longtime Miami kicker Dan Carpenter in training camp and led the Dolphins with 111 points.

The Dolphins also had decent production from undrafted rookie guard Sam Brenner, who made four starts and played 274 snaps. Brenner stepped up following the suspension of guard Richie Incognito in Miami's high-profile bullying scandal.

Brenner's production highlighted the fact that Thomas, a 2013 third-round pick, was too green to step in and be productive. Thomas was rotated between guard and tackle in training camp and never got comfortable in either position. Thomas must find a home at this season in order to provide quality depth.

In fact, it will be vital for Miami's entire 2013 draft class to find roles and contribute next season. The Dolphins used nine draft picks last year, and most have yet to make an impact.

"The Dolphins have a young quarterback [Ryan Tannehill], so they need to build a real core for the long term," Williamson said. "They need last year's draft and this upcoming come to build around Tannehill. They don't need to live for today. A strong core is more important than winning it all this year, although that philosophy can get you fired in Miami if you're 6-10."
Cortland Finnegan admits he had a down year with the St. Louis Rams in 2013. The veteran cornerback battled through injuries and inconsistent play that limited him to just seven games and one interception.

Finnegan
The poor year eventually led to Finnegan getting released by the Rams this offseason. However, he quickly found a home Friday with the Miami Dolphins, who were searching for a veteran presence to add to their secondary.

Finnegan, 30, is the early favorite to start opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. It could be a formidable duo if Finnegan can return to the old form that he had with the Tennessee Titans. Somewhere, that got lost during his stint in St. Louis.

“I play with an edge, and I’ve learned to control that throughout the years with the fines going down,” Finnegan explained during his teleconference Friday with the Miami media. “At the same time I want to bring that same tenacity and spunk that I had that maybe I was missing. I know a lot of people said maybe something was missing. Maybe that’s what it was.”

Finnegan, at his best, was one of the most physical cornerbacks in the NFL. He was an aggressor who often got in the heads of receivers.

A starting cornerback job is wide open in Miami. Finnegan will compete with 2013 draft picks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis in training camp. Taylor and Davis had injury-plagued seasons and will be hungry to earn bigger roles with the team in 2014.

Finnegan has a lot to prove with his new Dolphins team, as well.

“I’m going to work,” Finnegan said. “Nothing was ever given to me, and I don’t want it. I want to come in and compete for any job of that magnitude. I hope the younger guys are coming in to compete.”

Finnegan said he’s out to prove he has something left in the tank. His inconsistent play last season has many wondering if he’s hit a wall. The Dolphins signing Finnegan to a two-year contract shows the coaching staff believes last season was an aberration.

Finnegan said he expects to be “110 percent” by organized team activities in the spring.

“Now it’s a clean slate,” Finnegan said. “I’m on a new team with great coaches. I have to let my play do the talking.”
The Miami Dolphins have made several quality moves already in free agency. But there remains a gaping hole at cornerback opposite Pro Bowler Brent Grimes.

Taylor
Davis
Can a pair of 2013 draft picks fill that void?

Former second-round pick Jamar Taylor and third-round pick Will Davis will be provided a chance to fill significant roles with the Dolphins in 2014. Both had redshirt rookie years last season. Taylor and Davis both battled various injuries early in the season and couldn’t work their way into the rotation.

But the Dolphins, via their recent roster moves, are making it clear that Taylor and Davis will be provided a clean slate this season. Miami cut veteran starter Dimitri Patterson last week to save $5 million on its salary cap. The Dolphins also allowed veteran Nolan Carroll to walk in free agency. Carroll signed Thursday with the Philadelphia Eagles. Between Patterson and Carroll, Miami lost seven total interceptions from last season.

Taylor and Davis were highly-touted players entering last year’s draft who have potential. Taylor was a playmaker at Boise State who was considered by many to be a first-round prospect. But health issues leading up to the draft dropped Taylor to the second round. Miami felt it got value in Taylor, but his issues and injuries carried into training camp and the early portion of the season. Taylor got playing time sparingly late in the season, but he didn't get enough reps to show what he can do.

Davis is a ballhawk who showed flashes in training camp. He unofficially led the Dolphins in interceptions during training camp practices. As a member of the scout defense, Davis picked off Miami starting cornerback Ryan Tannehill three times in summer practices, which opened some eyes. Davis also had an interception in the preseason against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But a toe injury late in the preseason put him behind and he never found a consistent spot in the rotation.

Miami is hosting veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan Friday. That is a sign the team is looking for another veteran presence to add to the mix. But the Dolphins also are hoping one -- or both -- of their young cornerbacks steps up this year.

Offseason Blueprint: Dolphins

March, 4, 2014
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MIAMI -- Roster development is a major topic in South Florida. The Miami Dolphins got little from their 2013 draft class, and that was one of several reasons the team missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

But who is to blame in Miami?

Was it the fault of former general manager Jeff Ireland, who picked the players? Or was it head coach Joe Philbin and his staff for failing to develop and get an immediate impact from 2013 draft picks such as Dion Jordan, cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis and offensive lineman Dallas Thomas? It’s debatable. But, clearly, Miami’s owner Stephen Ross made his choice by keeping Philbin and firing Ireland after an 8-8 season.

With Ireland out of the picture, the pressure is now on Philbin. He must develop and get the best out of his young players -- particularly a dynamic talent like Jordan. This is one issue within the bigger picture that could impact Philbin’s long-term job security.

Ryan Tannehill must finish strong

December, 4, 2013
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DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill knows a lot rests on his shoulders down the stretch. The Dolphins (6-6) are in the thick of the playoff race in December with little margin for error. They are grouped in with several teams for the final wild-card spot in the AFC.

Tannehill
This also means there is little margin for error for Tannehill. Miami's second-year quarterback must play some of the best football of his career in the final four games if the Dolphins want to get into the playoffs. It starts Sunday on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7).

A couple bad games from Tannehill could end Miami's season.

"I gotta play well," Tannehill admitted after Wednesday's practice. "I think that's no different from any other week. It's crunch time in the season so I gotta play well."

Tannehill had arguably his best game of the season this past Sunday against the New York Jets. He threw for 331 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He had a 94.2 passer rating in a crucial 23-3 victory that kept Miami's playoff hopes alive.

Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin likes the way Tannehill is developing.

"He's clearly playing better," Philbin said of Tannehill. "You can look [at it] on a piece of paper and say he's playing better. I think overall, he has more command of the offense, his decision-making has improved and this is an important game for everybody."

Tannehill appears to be warming up the past two weeks. He posted back-to-back 300-yard games for the first time in his career against the Jets and Carolina Panthers in Weeks 12 and 13, respectively. Tannehill may have a chance to make it three consecutive weeks of 300 yards against the Steelers' aging secondary that has allowed its share of big passing plays this year.

Tannehill, who played college at Texas A&M before joining Miami, may have to play in poor weather conditions. Tannehill said he's never played in a snow game before, and Pittsburgh's forecast may call for inclement weather.

"If it's snowing, I've heard it's not too bad," Tannehill said. "It's actually nice to play in it. From the guys just in the locker room talking, Matt [Moore] played in the snow a few times. He said it's nice. It doesn't affect the ball."

Here are some other notes from Wednesday's practice:
  • The Dolphins had three players who didn't practice Wednesday. Starting guard John Jerry (concussion), rookie cornerback Jamar Taylor (hamstring) and running back Daniel Thomas (ankle) did not participate.
  • Tannehill also showed up on the injury report with a right thumb injury. But he had full participation in practice.
  • Miami cornerback Dimitri Patterson (groin) was limited in practice and is trying to make it back on the field. Patterson missed the past two games with a groin injury.
DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins (6-6) held their first practice of the week in preparation for Sunday’s playoff elimination game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7).

Here are some notes from Tuesday’s session:
  • Dolphins backup running back Daniel Thomas made an appearance at practice. He suffered a significant ankle injury two weeks ago, and multiple reports indicated Thomas was lost for the season. However, Thomas worked on the side with a trainer Tuesday and did light jogging and other work on his injured ankle. He didn’t look like a player who is ready to shut it down for the year.
  • Other injured players included rookie cornerback Jamar Taylor, who did not practice and went inside to rehab his injured hamstring. Miami safety Chris Clemons (knee, hamstring) and cornerback Dimitri Patterson (groin) also appeared to be limited, at best, in the portion of practice open to the media.
  • The Dolphins took advantage of the nice South Florida weather on Tuesday. The team practiced outside, despite having a cold-weather game Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Projecting Dolphins' Week 3 inactives

September, 21, 2013
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The Miami Dolphins will try to improve to 3-0 Sunday when they host the Atlanta Falcons (1-1).

Here is a list of Dolphins you may not see at Sun Life Stadium:

Defensive tackle Paul Soliai and cornerback Dimitri Patterson: Both defensive starters have been ruled out. Soliai has a knee injury and Patterson has a groin injury.

Quarterback Pat Devlin: Miami’s emergency quarterback is getting healthy again following an ankle injury. He’s listed as questionable. But considering quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore will be active, Devlin can afford to rest another week.

Running back Mike Gillislee: The Dolphins’ third running back was inactive in the first two games, and I don’t see that changing. Miami finally showed signs of running the football with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas in Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Linebacker Josh Kaddu: Miami hasn’t been able to find him a spot on game days. Other backup linebackers contribute on special teams.

Guard Dallas Thomas: The rookie third-round pick is still green and hasn’t earned the trust of the coaching staff. With Miami’s offensive line in good health, chances are he sits out another week.

Cornerback Jamar Taylor: Miami’s second-round pick is finally ready to return from a groin injury. But Taylor can use another week of rehab and practice to shake the rust. Taylor hasn’t played since the preseason.
Ryan Tannehill and Julio JonesUSA TODAY SportsRyan Tannehill and the undefeated Dolphins will try to upset Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons.
The Miami Dolphins are basking in the light of a 2-0 start while the Atlanta Falcons are just trying to find some healthy bodies.

The two teams play each other Sunday in a game that has big implications in the AFC East and NFC South races.

ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker and ESPN Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas examine this matchup:

Yasinskas: James, like many, I thought the Dolphins would be an improved team. But it's looking like they might be even better than I thought. They've gone out and started their season with two big wins on the road. What's going right for the Dolphins and, more importantly, how good are they?

Walker: It's early, Pat, but Miami is already exceeding my expectations. I pegged the Dolphins to be an 8-8 team this year. That still could happen if the team loses focus, but Miami is on pace to do better. I credit two things: improved playmaking ability and the growth of second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami committed more than $200 million in free-agent contracts to players like receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Brent Grimes and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler. All of those players came up big in last Sunday's win over the Indianapolis Colts. When you add in the fact Tannehill has improved in his second year, it's easy to see why the Dolphins are also taking the next step. Atlanta is a team many believe is a Super Bowl contender, but the group is banged up. Pat, how much will injuries impact the Falcons in this game?

Yasinskas: Atlanta has some major injury problems. The Falcons had to put defensive end/linebacker Kroy Biermann and fullback Bradie Ewing on injured reserve this week and there are reports that running back Steven Jackson will miss a few weeks. The loss of Biermann means the Falcons will have to play rookies Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow at linebacker and second-year pro Jonathan Massaquoi at defensive end. If Jackson is out, the Falcons will have to go with Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling as their running backs, and that's a sharp drop-off. That probably means the Falcons will pass even more than usual and rely on Roddy White and Julio Jones. Is Miami's secondary ready for that tandem?

Walker: I had a good conversation with Miami's top cornerback, Grimes, on Tuesday. He was complimentary of both White and Jones -- and Grimes would know. The former Falcon watched both receivers grow in Atlanta and practiced against them. It will be fun to see who has the advantage between Grimes and White/Jones, depending on the play. Grimes told me they all know each other so well that it's probably a push. The bigger concern for Miami's secondary is the other cornerback spot. Veteran starter Dimitri Patterson didn't play in Week 2 due to a groin injury. He's working his way back and could play Sunday. Rookie corners Will Davis and Jamar Taylor also returned to practice this week, which could provide depth. Similar to the game against Indianapolis, Miami must do a lot of things schematically to cover up its issues opposite Grimes. That includes using the safeties over the top and getting a good pass rush. Speaking of pass rush, the Dolphins have nine sacks in the first two games. Can they exploit the Falcons in this area?

Yasinskas: Miami's pass rush has to be a major concern for the Falcons. Atlanta revamped its offensive line in the offseason and it's taking some time to come together. The right side of the line is of particular concern with guard Garrett Reynolds and Lamar Holmes as the starters. Reynolds is average at best and Holmes, a second-year pro, was thrown into the starting lineup when Mike Johnson went down with an injury in the preseason. Holmes is very much a work in progress, so the Falcons will have to try to give him some help by getting their tight ends and running backs involved as pass-blockers. Still, Atlanta should be able to move the ball through the air because it has Matt Ryan, Jones, White and tight end Tony Gonzalez. Has Tannehill developed enough to win a shootout?

Walker: That's an interesting question, Pat. I'm not sure anyone -- even Miami's coaching staff -- has the answer. I did notice the Dolphins' game plan in Week 1 against Cleveland was fairly conservative compared to Week 2 against Indianapolis. Those are two different teams, and perhaps the Dolphins realized they needed to be more aggressive throwing and take more vertical shots deep to match Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. This is a similar type of challenge, because Atlanta's offense is built around scoring points in the passing game. Tannehill is getting better at taking over parts of a game in Year 2. His play in the second half the past two weeks has been terrific. The Dolphins are outscoring opponents 24-6 in the third and fourth quarters, in part because Tannehill is moving the chains, putting points on the board and keeping Miami's defense fresh. I don't expect this game to be all on Tannehill's shoulders. The defense remains the strength of the Dolphins. Keeping Atlanta's scoring around 23 points or fewer, as opposed to having Tannehill throw for 400 yards, is probably Miami's best shot to win.
The Miami Dolphins will face the Cleveland Browns in their regular-season opener on Sunday. Here is a preview of players you may not see based on this week’s practices:

QB Pat Devlin, CB Will Davis, CB Jamar Taylor: All three players are ruled out on Miami’s final injury report. They missed every practice this week.

RB Mike Gillislee: Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas will get a majority of the carries. Miami needs a fullback (Tyler Clutts) on the active roster for certain formations as well. Gillislee could be the odd man out.

TE Michael Egnew: He brings no value on special teams and is a backup behind Charles Clay. Egnew’s lack of blocking also puts him behind rookie tight end Dion Sims.

OT Will Yeatman: Miami has nine offensive lineman, and Yeatman could get the short end of the stick on game day.

LB Josh Kaddu: He’s a backup linebacker, and fellow backups Jason Trusnik and Jelani Jenkins play special teams.

DB Don Jones: The Dolphins are thin at defensive back, but Jones is on the back end of the depth chart.

Dolphins-Browns final injury report

September, 6, 2013
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The practices are over for the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns, who will face off in Week 1.

Here is the final injury report for both teams:

Dolphins

Out: CB Will Davis (toe), CB Jamar Taylor (groin), QB Pat Devlin (ankle)

Questionable: CB Dimitri Patterson (ankle)

Probable: LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder), DE Dion Jordan (shoulder), DE Vaughn Martin (ankle), TE Dion Sims (groin), S Jimmy Wilson (hamstring)

Injury analysis: As expected, the Dolphins will be without rookie cornerbacks Taylor and Davis. Both missed practice the entire week. This impacts depth in the secondary and special teams. Nolan Carroll will play a huge role as Miami's third cornerback, and Cleveland's offense could try to target him on Sunday. Patterson is questionable, but he's expected to play. The Dolphins definitely need him. Jordan will make his NFL debut Sunday after battling back from a shoulder injury. Look for Jordan to play in pass-rushing downs and on special teams.

Browns

Out: LB Barkevious Mingo (lung), G Shawn Lauvao (ankle)

Questionable: DL Ahtyba Rubin (calf), DB Buster Skrine (shoulder)

Probable: WR Davone Bess (knee), DL Desmond Bryant (back), TE Jordan Cameron (groin), LB Eric Martin (foot), DB Chris Owens (foot), LB Jabaal Sheard (illness)

Injury analysis: Unlike the Dolphins, Cleveland will be without its first-round pick. Mingo injured his lung in the preseason and won’t make it back for Week 1. Rubin and Skrine are two recent injuries that could have a heavy impact on Cleveland’s defense. Both are questionable. Otherwise, Cleveland and Miami are healthy entering Week 1.

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