NFL Nation: Philip Wheeler

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Remember the final four minutes of Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins fans. This might be remembered as the moment when the season veered in the wrong direction.

After a Green Bay field goal, host Miami led the streaking Packers by four points with 4:09 left. Good teams close those games out at home. The Dolphins didn't, allowing a masterful game-winning touchdown drive by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"It was a lot of four-letter words," defensive end Cameron Wake said of the postgame mood.

Miami (2-3) has lost three of its past four games and will play five of its next seven on the road. That stretch includes tough opponents, such as Detroit (4-2), San Diego (5-1) and Denver (4-1). Miami also will play Buffalo (3-3) during that span; the Dolphins have lost three straight to the Bills and four of the past five.

The Dolphins, who haven't won consecutive games since December, certainly won't survive this stretch if they continue to be this inconsistent.

During Sunday's decisive drive -- which ended on Andrew Quarless' touchdown catch with three seconds to play -- Rodgers converted on a fourth-and-10 and even executed a fake spike and completion near the goal line. That move, of course, was made famous by former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, who was in attendance.

And with that, the blame game began -- as in, the Dolphins blaming themselves.

Dolphins linemen Daryn Collegde and Ja'Wuan James said the Miami offense was at fault for not getting late first downs and keeping the ball out of Rodgers' hands.

Miami linebacker Philip Wheeler, who gave up the game-winning touchdown, also seemed to point the finger at his coaching staff. Rodgers clearly saw a weakness on the right side of the defense on the final drive. According to ESPN Stats ∓ Information research, Rodgers completed 4 of 5 passes on the right side in the final two minutes, including the touchdown to Quarless over Wheeler.

"It was 50 percent bad play call and 50 percent bad coverage," Wheeler said about the decisive touchdown.

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeNo matter the culprit, the Dolphins allowed Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to figure them out toward the end.
Asked to clarify, Wheeler added, "I feel like [Rodgers] figured us out toward the end. He knew we were in man-to-man and that I would have single coverage on the tight end."

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin also was a culprit. He called a late timeout on fourth-and-10, allowing the Packers' offense to regroup. Philbin said after the game their strategy is called "Kodaking," where they let the offense line up to see the formation and the play before calling a timeout.

It didn't work. Rodgers came out of the timeout and threw an 18-yard pass to Packers receiver Jordy Nelson to set up the game-winning touchdown.

Throughout his tenure, Philbin has struggled with clock management and late-game decisions such as these. It is part of the reason why he is 17-20 in three years as Miami's head coach. Those final four minutes essentially summed up Philbin's tenure as head coach -- close but not good enough.

Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle also reportedly were caught on the Fox television cameras having a brief-but-animated exchange in the first half. Philbin didn't have much to say about it.

"That was in the heat of the game," Philbin said.

This is the kind of game the Dolphins will look back on in December as a missed opportunity, especially if they fail to make the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.

"Individually, we got to look ourselves in the mirror and tell yourself first and foremost that 'I can't be beaten. I'm not going to allow myself to win one rep and lose one rep,'" Dolphins veteran safety Louis Delmas said. "If the total defense has that mindset and the total offense and total special teams have that mindset each and every rep, we won't have that excuse at the end to come out to play one good series or play one good game and lose another game.

"It's not coaching. It's not scheme or anything. It's all players. We're the ones that go out and play."

Miami Dolphins injury report

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
6:28
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DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (1-1) completed their second practice of the week in preparation for the Kansas City Chiefs (0-2).

Here is an update of Miami’s latest injuries:

Did not participate: LB Koa Misi (ankle), DL Terrence Fede (knee), RB Knowshon Moreno (elbow), G Shelley Smith (knee)

Limited participation: LT Branden Albert (shoulder), TE Charles Clay (knee), S Louis Delmas (calf), LB Jelani Jenkins, C Mike Pouncey (hip), LB Jordan Tripp (chest), G Billy Turner (foot), LB Philip Wheeler (thumb)

Full participation: WR Brian Hartline (back), S Walt Aikens (hand), DT Randy Starks (toe)

Analysis: The Dolphins added several new injuries following their Week 2 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Albert, Delmas and Jenkins are among the starters who were banged up in that game. Pouncey practiced for the second day in a row and appears to be making progress. If he doesn’t return Sunday, Miami’s following game on Sept. 28 against the Oakland Raiders looks like a possibility. Moreno will not play and Misi’s chances aren’t looking good. For Kansas City, star running back Jamaal Charles (ankle) and safety Eric Berry (ankle) did not practice Wednesday.
An examination of what the Miami Dolphins must do after their win over the New England Patriots:

The Dolphins were in a celebratory mood Sunday evening following their impressive 33-20 win. The defense shut out New England in the second half and Miami's offense scored 23 unanswered points to cap a dominant performance.

On the surface, all seemed well for the Dolphins. But there is one underlying issue facing the team entering Week 2.

A pair of Miami starting linebackers were hobbled in the locker room after the game. Starting middle linebacker Koa Misi injured his left ankle and did not return to the game. He was limping and in a boot Sunday night. Dannell Ellerbe injured his hip in the first half and will be put on season-ending injured reserve, the Dolphins announced Monday. The team signed free-agent linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to fill Ellerbe's roster spot.

With Philip Wheeler missing the game with a thumb injury, the Dolphins played the entire second half without their three starting linebackers. However, backups Jason Trusnik, Jelani Jenkins and Jonathan Freeny stepped in and held their own.

"I'm proud of the way the guys stepped up. I told the team it was really a team win," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. "Injuries seem to happen in waves at one position -- it just seems to be the nature of things. Our guys were able to step in. Jelani [Jenkins] came in there, I thought [Jason] Trusnik played a heck of a game and really contributed. [Jonathan] Freeny got in there and contributed. Chris McCain got in there and contributed. I said to the team at the end of the game, the name on the back of the jersey didn't really matter. I thought the guys played like a team."

With Ellerbe out and Wheeler's and Misi's status up in the air, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Miami could play the undefeated Buffalo Bills next week without their starting linebackers. But Sunday's performance by the backups should give Miami confidence it can look in-house to solve the issue.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

September, 7, 2014
Sep 7
4:19
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 33-20 win at Sun Life Stadium:

What it means: The Dolphins picked up a gritty and important win against the New England Patriots to open the regular season. Miami trailed 20-10 in the first half but took over in the third and fourth quarters with 23 unanswered points. Beating the reigning AFC East champions and picking up a division victory adds to the importance of the victory. Miami didn't get much respect in the national media this offseason. This win over New England, a team many feel is one of the best in the NFL, certainly puts the rest of the league on notice that Miami should be taken seriously.

Stock Watch: Miami defensive end Cameron Wake's stock is on the upswing. Wake continually pressured Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and registered two sacks and fumbles against Brady in the second half. In contrast, the Dolphins' linebacker position is on the downturn. Starters Koa Misi (ankle) and Dannell Ellerbe (hip) were injured in the first half and didn't return. Philip Wheeler also missed the game with a thumb injury. Miami’s linebacker position was a major question mark even when everyone was healthy.

Unexpected rookie: The Dolphins got an unexpected contribution from undrafted rookie linebacker Chris McCain. He made a pair of big plays that helped the Dolphins. McCain blocked a punt following New England’s first drive on offense, which led to Miami’s first touchdown. McCain also had a sack on Brady near the end of the third quarter.

Game ball: Miami running back Knowshon Moreno provided a spark off the bench with 134 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Moreno should soon overtake Miami starting tailback Lamar Miller, who fumbled Sunday and struggled at times, for a starting job.

What's next: The Dolphins will have another important division game in Week 2, when they travel to play the Buffalo Bills, who have had the Dolphins' number as of late. Buffalo swept Miami in two games last season.

Miami Dolphins injury report

September, 3, 2014
Sep 3
6:28
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DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins hit the practice field Wednesday in preparation for their Week 1 showdown against the New England Patriots.

Here is the updated injury report:

Out: Center Mike Pouncey (hip), defensive end Terrence Fede (knee), LB Jordan Tripp (chest)

Limited participation: S Walt Aikens (hand), TE Charles Clay (knee), LB Koa Misi (shoulder), DE Derrick Shelby (illness), K Caleb Sturgis (groin), CB Jamar Taylor (hip), G Billy Turner (foot), LB Philip Wheeler (thumb)

Full participation: RB Knowshon Moreno (knee)

Analysis: This is a long list of players who are limited. But most, if not all, are expected to play in Week 1 barring any setbacks. Most of the limited players also had the final preseason game off last week against the St. Louis Rams in order to be ready for the Patriots on Sunday. Moreno has bounced back well from knee surgery and is expected to play, as well. In terms of New England, tight end Rob Gronkowski (knee) had limited participation on Wednesday.

Miami Dolphins' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
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Examining the Miami Dolphins’ roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)


The only question here is whether Devlin can hold off undrafted rookie Brock Jensen for the No. 3 quarterback job. Neither quarterback stood out in the offseason, but Devlin has the slight edge because of experience.

RUNNING BACKS (3)

The Dolphins would like to have someone step up and challenge Thomas. Undrafted rookie Damien Williams from Oklahoma could be a sleeper to watch. But it's too premature to put Williams on the 53-man roster over the veteran Thomas before the pads come on.

RECEIVERS (6)

This is a deep group with a lot of competition. Williams will be pushed for the final spot by Armon Binns and rookie Matt Hazel, who is practice-squad-eligible.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

New Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor uses some two-tight-end sets. So there might be room for a fourth player such as Dion Sims. But we are sticking with three for now.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
Pouncey’s hip injury puts a major dent in this much-maligned group to start the season. Miami will have five new starters in Week 1.

DEFENSIVE LINE (8)

This is the strongest area of the team. The Dolphins can come at opponents in waves in the trenches.

LINEBACKERS (7)

This group must improve its play from 2013. The Misi experiment at middle linebacker is particularly important to watch.

CORNERBACKS (6)

This is a solid mix of youth and experience. As long as second-year players Taylor and Davis come of age and Finnegan stays healthy, the depth will be improved from a year ago.

SAFETIES (4)

This group is all about position flexibility. All four players must be able to play back in coverage and closer to the line of scrimmage in defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s scheme.

SPECIALISTS (3)

This trio will remain the same for the second straight year.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Koa Misi has played outside linebacker his entire five-year career in the NFL. Before that, Misi was a standout defensive end in college at the University of Utah.

But the Miami Dolphins are trying something with Misi this offseason that he's never done before. Misi was moved inside as Miami's starting middle linebacker. For the first time, Misi is responsible for play calls, getting the defense lined up pre-snap and stopping anything in the middle of the field.

[+] EnlargeMiami's Koa Misi
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesMiami is trying out Koa Misi at middle linebacker.
Will the Misi experiment work?

Misi is Miami's new field general on defense. The Dolphins are hoping this improves the performance of their underachieving linebackers.

"We think he has great leadership qualities," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of Misi. "We think his play has certainly exemplified that over the course of period of time that I've been here. He plays football the right way, so we are going to see how we adjust to that position and how he relates to the other players at his position and the defense in general. So far he's done a nice job."

Make no mistake, the Dolphins are trying the Misi experiment out of necessity. The Dolphins hired new linebackers coach Mark Duffner this offseason to shake things up.

Miami starting linebackers Misi, Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler all struggled last season amid high expectations. This trio received sizable contracts and extensions last year, but the Dolphins were ranked 24th in stopping the run and had issues defending tight ends and slot receivers in the passing game.

"I've always been open to anything," Misi said of the switch. "Like I said to these guys, since I got here, I've been switching positions. I'm always open to try something new. Like I said, if it works, it works and, if not, we'll go back to the way things were."

Will this last all season or eventually change? No one in Miami knows for sure.

But there are no early signs that Miami will go back to last year's alignment. Misi has been the starting middle linebacker in every snap the past two weeks in organized team activities open to the media. The Dolphins have been pleased with the results thus far.

"We know, in the long term, it's going to provide us with more depth regardless of whether we stay with it or not," Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "It's hard to get a true evaluation when you're out here running around in shorts. But certainly you can start to see them getting more comfortable with the positions that they're featured in right now.

"I think so far, so good. We've been pleased with the way it's working out."
Free-agent linebacker D'Qwell Jackson signed a $22 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday. The Miami Dolphins were one of several teams interested in Jackson and hosted him for a visit.

Jackson
Although Miami didn’t get Jackson, his visit was telling. It says the Dolphins and new general manager Dennis Hickey are not happy with the current linebacking group. Linebackers Philip Wheeler, Koa Misi and Dannell Ellerbe did not perform up to expectations in 2014. Miami was 24th against the run and struggled at times in pass coverage against tight ends and slot receivers.

What does this mean for Miami’s linebackers going forward? It means they are under the microscope.

Linebacker is not a primary need. But it’s clear Hickey will look to make an upgrade or add depth when an opportunity arises. There could be another starter cut or released this offseason who could compete, particularly with Misi or Wheeler.

But without Jackson in the fold, Miami will stay with its current trio. This much we know: Wheeler, Misi and Ellerbe must perform better in 2014.
The Miami Dolphins signed three starting linebackers to sizable contract extensions in the past year. So why is Miami kicking tires on another starting linebacker this week?

Jackson
Former Cleveland Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson’s reported free-agent visit Tuesday is an interesting, under-the-radar development for Miami. Here is what Jackson’s visit means for the Dolphins.
  • This is a clear indication that new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey is not satisfied with the starting linebacker corps of Philip Wheeler, Koa Misi and Dannell Ellerbe. This group all received multi-year extensions in 2013 and underachieved. These were former Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland’s guys. That means Hickey has no attachments to those signings. He most likely watched the film of Miami’s 24th-ranked run defense last season and wasn’t impressed.
  • Jackson played inside linebacker in Cleveland, but Ellerbe is the most secure linebacker in Miami. Jackson would have to play outside in place of Misi or Wheeler, who are both in the hot seat for inconsistent play last season. Contractually, Wheeler’s cap value is $6.4 million in 2014, which includes a guaranteed salary of $5 million. Misi has a lower cap number of $2.38 million and appears easier to release in the event the Dolphins landed Jackson.
  • But the Dolphins aren’t guaranteed to get Jackson and definitely aren’t the favorites. There are at least two other reported suitors for Jackson’s services in the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos. Jackson is a good player, and I believe he would be an upgrade over some of the linebackers the Dolphins currently have. But Miami probably wouldn’t try to win a bidding war over other teams considering all the money it already has tied into the position.

Bringing in Jackson for a visit is a strong sign that Miami wants to see better production from that position and that the team wasn't happy with its multi-million dollar investments. Misi, Wheeler and Ellerbe must step up their games if they remain Miami's starting linebackers in 2014.

Dolphins have plenty of cap room

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
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The Miami Dolphins can use some good news. And here it is: In less than two weeks, the Dolphins will have plenty of cap space to pursue free agents.

Look for the Dolphins to be major players for the second straight offseason when free agency opens March 11. Last year, Miami spent more than $100 million in guaranteed money for outside free agents such as Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler and in-house free agents such as Brian Hartline and Chris Clemons.

This year the Dolphins will have approximately $36 million to spend within the projected $130 million salary cap. That includes about $18 million in carryover from 2013, which trails only the Cleveland Browns ($24.5 million) and Jacksonville Jaguars ($19.6 million).

Dawn Aponte, Dolphins vice president of football administration, has done a masterful job with the salary cap to allow Miami to be aggressive for the second year in a row. Miami can certainly use the additional resources. The Dolphins have well-defined weaknesses, such as offensive line, cornerback and safety. Miami also has more than 20 restricted and unrestricted free agents looking for new contracts. Some will stay in Miami and some will sign with other teams.

Already in 2014 the Dolphins have gone through a GM change, coaching-staff changes and the Ted Wells report, which highlighted Miami’s ugly bullying scandal. But March 11 should be an exciting time for the Dolphins and their downtrodden fan base.

Most expensive Dolphins in 2014

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
12:00
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The Miami Dolphins are searching for a new general manager after parting ways with Jeff Ireland last week. One of the biggest jobs for Miami’s new GM will be analyzing the roster.

Despite a spending spree last year in free agency, Miami goes into the 2014 offseason in solid shape with the salary cap. The fact the Dolphins have more than 20 unrestricted and restricted free agents has a lot to do with it.

At right is a chart of the 10 most expensive salary-cap charges for the Dolphins in 2014.

The new Dolphins GM certainly has some decisions to make with their 10 most expensive players. For example, two players on this list are coming off season-ending injuries. Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (groin) and receiver Brandon Gibson (knee) ended the 2013 season on injured reserve.

Noticeably missing from this list is Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He is the 12th most expensive player on the roster with a cap charge of $3.455 million next season. That is peanuts for a starting NFL quarterback. Tannehill is entering the third year of his rookie contract.

Miami Dolphins lacking killer instinct

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
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MIAMI -- There is something missing with the Miami Dolphins this year that is hard to put a finger on.

The Dolphins have talented players. They compete hard on most weeks and can compete with just about anyone in the NFL.

But there is one key reason Miami is 5-6 this season, and it's something that is difficult to measure: The Dolphins simply lack the killer instinct necessary that it takes to build a consistent winner.

The Dolphins' inability to finish was on full display Sunday during their 20-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Miami blew a 16-6 halftime lead in a game that could have done wonders for its playoff chances. The Dolphins were outscored 14-0 in the second half and allowed 17 unanswered points .

[+] EnlargeMike Wallace
Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald/MCT via Getty ImagesMike Wallace was one of the few bright spots for the Dolphins on Sunday.
"I think we kill ourselves," Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace (five catches, 127 yards) said after the game of Miami's second-to-last drive when the Dolphins could have gone up 10 points. "I think we could have put them away on the drive before that. We just didn't. We've got to have killer instinct. I don't think we really have it that well.

"We've got to do a better job of finishing teams off when we have them coming back out of the half. That's the biggest thing."

Getting outplayed in the second half and fourth quarters have been troubling trends for the Dolphins all season. Miami also blew a 17-0 halftime lead to the New England Patriots on Oct. 24.

There were many of the same ingredients in Sunday's collapse to Carolina, which won its seventh straight game. The Dolphins became predictable and one-dimensional on offense and couldn't get key stops on defense late in the game.

Miami's inconsistent running game produced just 52 yards on 17 carries. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was the Dolphins' leading rusher with 36 yards. Carolina's front seven dominated Miami's patchwork offensive line, which is missing two starters due to the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito scandal.

With Miami becoming predictable on offense, it became easy for Carolina to shut out the Dolphins in the second half.

"Penetration," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of Miami's inability to run. "We were running one or two times an outside zone play, [and] the defensive ends are 4 yards in the backfield and we tried to bend and weave. Again, if you don't get the ball at any point to the line of scrimmage it's tough. You have to do better."

With the offense stalling, it became more and more difficult for Miami's defense to hold the lead.

Miami's defense did a solid job bottling up Carolina quarterback and MVP candidate Cam Newton for much of the game. Newton threw for 174 yards, one touchdown and one interception. But his 80-yard touchdown drive in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter sealed the victory for Carolina. Newton capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen with 43 seconds remaining.

"I feel like they started making adjustments," Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler said. "They blocked up a few plays differently. They are a good team and they made some plays and we didn't make them towards the end when it counted."

The Dolphins have the talent to be a playoff team. But they often don't play that way, especially in crunch time.

Whether that's a player or coaching issue is debatable. Opposing coaches have made good halftime adjustments against Miami's coaching staff. Yet, at the same time, it's up to the Dolphins players on the field to produce. Too often that does not happen late in games.

That leaves the Dolphins with a mediocre 5-6 record with five games remaining. There is a strong chance they will end up regretting tough losses like Sunday's when their season is over.

Philip Wheeler fined $21,000 for QB hit

November, 15, 2013
11/15/13
3:11
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DAVIE, Fla. -- The bad news continues for the Miami Dolphins.

Miami starting linebacker Philip Wheeler was fined $21,000 for his hit on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon in Monday’s loss, an NFL spokesman confirmed to ESPN.com. Wheeler hit Glennon in the head and neck area, and it was a big penalty in Miami's 22-19 loss to the Buccaneers.

Wheeler is the second Dolphins player to be fined by the NFL for hard hits on quarterbacks this season. Miami rookie linebacker Jelani Jenkins also was fined in October for his hit on Buffalo Bills quarterback Thad Lewis.

Dolphins' D prepares for Rob Gronkowski

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
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DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins are struggling on a three-game losing streak. They have a variety of issues, which includes sloppy play, lack of pass protection, and a quarterback with seven turnovers in the past three games.

Gronkowski
Gronkowski
To add to the misery, the first-place New England Patriots (5-2) will be unleashing Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski on Miami’s defense this Sunday. Gronkowski made his 2013 debut last week against the New York Jets and recorded eight receptions for 114 yards.

Gronkowski will have another week of practice to shake the rust and get in shape before facing the Dolphins (3-3) in a big AFC East game on Sunday.

“Obviously, they made a conscious effort to try and get him the football,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said of Gronkowski. “He’s a unique guy in that his combination of size and strength, his ability to body position people is really what separates him. I thought the Jets did some things, that at times they did some good things with him in the ball game, but yet he still caught the ball and had over 100 yards of receptions in the game.”

The Dolphins have struggled defending tight ends at various points this season. They’ve allowed four passing touchdowns to tight ends in six games. Two tight ends -- Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints and Jordan Cameron of the Cleveland Browns -- recorded 100 yards or more against Miami.

Gronkowski and Graham are widely regarded as the top two tight ends in the NFL. Graham lit up Miami’s defense for four catches, 100 yards and two touchdowns on Sept. 30. Gronkowski has the potential to do similar damage. Dolphins linebackers Philip Wheeler, Koa Misi and Dannell Ellerbe have been inconsistent defending tight ends in the middle of the field and vertically.

After dealing with young and inexperienced receivers, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is happy for Gronkowski’s return. Brady targeted Gronkowski 17 times in the tight end’s first game Sunday. The Dolphins expect Gronkowski to get plenty of opportunities again in Week 8 and have to be ready for the burly and talented tight end.

“You don’t want him to catch the big balls down the field,” Coyle said. “If you can kind of keep him contained where he’s catching shallow balls that is a good thing. You have to be able to do some things to try and take him out of the game, so that’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins consistently take a “next man up” mentality. But what happens when the next player keeps getting injured?

After a relatively healthy three weeks, Miami’s defense is being hit hard with injuries. The bye week is coming at just the right time for the Dolphins (3-2). Miami suffered some new injuries and is still reeling from old ones following a 26-23 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

Ellerbe
The list of injured defensive players is a long one. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder), cornerback Nolan Carroll (shoulder), defensive end Cameron Wake (knee) and cornerback Dimitri Patterson (groin) are all starters who either didn’t play or couldn’t finish Sunday’s game against Baltimore. Several other Dolphins players are also banged up on defense, but played through it.

“That’s the view of the NFL: When a guy goes down, the next guy should be ready to step in and fill that void,” Dolphins safety Reshad Jones said in the locker room afterward. “I feel like the backups did a pretty good job coming in and filling that void.”

Miami’s defense kept the points down, relatively speaking. But the Dolphins allowed 384 yards in the loss and couldn’t get key stops in the second half.

Miami’s short-handed defense was clearly gassed in the third and fourth quarters. The rotation was shortened because of injuries, and Baltimore took advantage by scoring 20 second-half points.

The Dolphins were a strong second-half team in the first three games. But Miami had a short week of preparation, and injuries have this group gasping for air. The Dolphins allowed 133 yards rushing on 40 carries.

“It’s hard to lose people in the game,” Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi said. “It was definitely hard on us.”

Miami will get two weeks to recover before facing the Buffalo Bills (2-3) on Oct. 20 at Sun Life Stadium. That should provide ample time for most of Miami’s defensive players to return. Miami needs to win at home, especially within the division.

The Dolphins need a better overall performance from their defense week in and week out if they want to put themselves in position to make a playoff push. The Dolphins fell to 1-1 at home this season, and have lost two straight.

“I want to be 5-0 as a player, just for this team, because we work really hard,” Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler said. “But we’re not proud with 3-2. We’re going to take it and we’re going to learn from the mistakes of this game and make sure we’re not 3-3 after the bye.”

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