NFL Nation: Walt Aikens

Miami Dolphins' Thursday injury report

December, 11, 2014
12/11/14
5:30
PM ET
The Miami Dolphins (7-6) will travel to face the New England Patriots (10-3) Sunday in an important game for both teams.

Here is Miami's official injury report for Thursday:

Did not practice: DB Walt Aikens (illness), 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), DT Anthony Johnson (ankle)

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

Analysis: The Dolphins were without starting linebackers Misi and Jenkins for the third consecutive day. Head coach Joe Philbin rarely goes with players who cannot practice during the week, so chances do not look good for those players Sunday against the Patriots. Backup linebackers Jason Trusnik and Kelvin Sheppard could see a lot of playing time. Miami also had two new additions to the injury report Thursday. Aikens was not present due to an illness, and Johnson was limited after presumably suffering an ankle injury in practice. Johnson was on crutches in the locker room Thursday.
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.

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.

Dolphins offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
5/23/14
10:00
AM ET
» NFC Wrap: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Grades

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Miami Dolphins' offseason moves.

[+] EnlargeBranden Albert
Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesThe Dolphins are counting on Branden Albert to help solidify their offensive line.
Best move: The Dolphins made their first offseason move their best one. On the first day of free agency, Miami signed Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert to a $47 million contract. It was a hefty price to pay, but the Dolphins were forced to do something dramatic to improve their offensive line. Miami allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks last season. Albert is one of the best tackles in the NFL and will immediately solidify protection on quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s blind side. Miami is expected to have four new starters on its offensive line this season.

Riskiest move: The Dolphins took on a pair of major medical risks in their secondary. Miami signed projected starting safety Louis Delmas and potential starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who both come with durability issues. Delmas and Finnegan have missed a combined 17 games the past two seasons with various injuries. Yet, the Dolphins are counting on both to stay healthy and provide a veteran presence in the secondary. The good news is Miami signed Delmas and Finnegan to one-year, “show-me” contracts to see if both players can stay healthy. Delmas and Finnegan will be motivated to prove critics wrong during contract years.

Most surprising move: First-year general manager Dennis Hickey was expected to make a big splash. However, Hickey had a low-key draft that surprisingly included five of eight players from non-BCS schools. The Dolphins drafted players from North Dakota State, Montana, Liberty, Coastal Carolina and Marist. Prospects such as offensive lineman Billy Turner, cornerback Walt Aikens, linebacker Jordan Tripp, receiver Matt Hazel and defensive end Terrence Fede all come to Miami with a lot to prove. Hickey proved that he is more focused on “traits” than big names. Whether that works for the Dolphins remains to be seen.

Competition is rising: The AFC East got stronger due to the offseason aggressiveness from Miami's division rivals. The New England Patriots made a pair of bold moves to sign cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. The New York Jets signed former Pro Bowl tailback Chris Johnson and wide receiver Eric Decker. The Buffalo Bills were aggressive in trading up to draft dynamic wide receiver Sammy Watkins and trading for veteran receiver Mike Williams. The Dolphins have struggled within the division. They are just 4-8 against the AFC East the past two years.

Miami Dolphins draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
5/10/14
6:49
PM ET
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


DAVIE, Fla. -- A wrap-up of the Miami Dolphins' draft. Click here for a full list of Dolphins draftees.

[+] EnlargeJu'Wuan James
AP Photo/Wade PayneThe Dolphins targeted right tackle Ja'Wuan James, and they got him with the 19th overall pick.
Best move: The Dolphins, as expected, plugged their biggest hole of need in the first round. Miami spent the No. 19 overall pick to select former Tennessee right tackle Ja'Wuan James. He was a durable, four-year starter whom Miami believes will be ready to play in Week 1. The only question with this pick is whether Miami had to take James at No. 19. The Dolphins were talking to other teams about trading down to acquire more picks and perhaps could have landed James in the 20s, but Miami says it was safer to take James, whom general manager Dennis Hickey says was the best player on the board. If James turns out to be a quality starter for a long time, no one will care that James was taken at No. 19 instead of later in the first round. James will pair with Pro Bowler Branden Albert as Miami's two new offensive tackles in 2014.

Riskiest move: The Dolphins didn't make a lot of risky moves in this draft, but fourth-round pick Walt Aikens comes with a red flag. Aikens was kicked out of Illinois after his arrest for felony possession of stolen electronics in 2010. According to Aikens, he bought a laptop from a teammate that turned out to be stolen. Aikens pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and was forced to leave Illinois. He continued his career at Liberty and worked his way into a fourth-round pick. The Dolphins did their homework into Aikens' background and felt he was worthy of the selection. According to NFL.com's Gil Brandt, Aikens was the first player drafted who wasn't invited to the NFL combine. Aikens said Saturday that he wants to compete for a starting job right away, but his best chance most likely is to compete on special teams.

Most surprising move: After playing it safe on Day 1, the Dolphins were wheeling and dealing on Day 2. Hickey produced three trades with the San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders in the second and third rounds, respectively. Miami traded down twice and moved up once. The result was the Dolphins drafting LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry at the end of the second round and offensive lineman Billy Turner near the top of the third round. Both players are expected to add depth to Miami's roster. But it was surprising to see Hickey, in his first draft, do a complete 180 in terms of aggressiveness on Friday.

File it away: Leadership was a major issue in Miami in 2013. The Dolphins went through a bullying scandal that caused a media firestorm and suffered a late-season collapse while having a chance to make the playoffs. Five of Miami’s first six drafted players -- James, Landry, Turner, tight end Arthur Lynch and linebacker Jordan Tripp -- were team captains for their respective college teams. That was not a coincidence. Hickey made it a point to acquire natural leaders to place in Miami’s locker room. The Dolphins are putting a heavy emphasis on character at the top of this draft as they work to remake their locker-room image.

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