Dec 5, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) attempts a pass against the New York Giants during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins host Jets, look to win sixth in a row

The Miami Dolphins, who are hoping to extend their winning streak to six games on Sunday against the lowly New York Jets, are riding the hot passing arm of Tua Tagovailoa.

Miami (6-7) is more than a touchdown favorite over the visiting Jets (3-10), and that has a lot to do with Tagovailoa, who is second in the NFL with a 70.9 completion percentage.

Over the past three weeks, Tagovailoa has been even better, completing 80 percent of his passes for an average of 249 yards per game.

Tagovailoa doesn’t throw down field much, but Miami’s short passing game is working, thanks in large part to speedy Jaylen Waddle, a rookie first-round pick. Waddle leads Miami in catches (86) and yards (849).

Miami’s other top target is tight end Mike Gesicki, who has 59 receptions for 642 yards.

But despite how well things have gone the past five games, Dolphins coach Brian Flores said he’s wary of the Jets.

“They’ve got some talented players,” Flores said.

It’s faint praise for a Jets team that has lost two straight games and five of its past six, including a 24-17 home defeat to the Dolphins on Nov. 21.

New York has already been eliminated from playoff contention for a franchise-record 11th consecutive year, the longest active drought in the NFL.

One of those “talented players” Flores talked about is Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Predictably, Wilson has struggled as a rookie, missing three games due to injury and compiling a 2-7 record in his nine starts. He is completing just 56.1 percent of his passes and has just six TD passes. He has been intercepted 11 times.

But Jets rookie head coach Robert Saleh hasn’t lost faith in Wilson.

“Zach is the future of this organization,” Saleh said. “He’s extremely talented, and he has a bright head on his shoulders.”

Wilson on Sunday will have to contend with a Dolphins defense that either blitzes or fakes one on every down.

Rookie outside linebacker/defensive end Jaelan Phillips leads Miami with 8 1/2 sacks, and the Dolphins have one of the best cornerback combos in the league in Byron Jones and Xavien Howard.

Bright spots for the Jets this year include Braxton Berrios, a former Miami Hurricanes star who is making a Pro Bowl case as a kickoff returner (28.7 average) and punt returner (13.8).

On defense, linebacker C.J. Mosley leads New York with 118 tackles, including 17 last week against the Saints.

Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (team-high six sacks) and his brother Quincy Williams (82 tackles at linebacker) have played well.

Bryce Hall, who leads New York with 10 passes defensed, is a young cornerback who has emerged as a budding star.

Offensively, Wilson has few healthy weapons as Elijah Moore (43 catches) and Corey Davis (34 catches) are out. That leaves slot receivers Jamison Crowder (team-high 45 catches) and Berrios (32 catches) as the top options.

Meanwhile, three of Miami’s running backs — Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Phillip Lindsay — were placed on the COVID-19 health and safety protocol list on Monday.

The Dolphins are hoping running back Malcolm Brown — who returned to practice on Wednesday — will be ready this week. He has missed six straight games and has been out nearly two months due to a quadriceps injury.

Miami also has an issue at safety, where rookie Jevon Holland was also placed on the COVID list. Safety Brandon Jones was limited this week due to an ankle injury.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Phillip Lindsay (31) runs with the football against the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Phillip Lindsay is third Miami RB on COVID list

Miami’s Phillip Lindsay reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus, meaning all three Dolphins running backs on the 53-man roster are on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Coming off a bye week, the Dolphins (6-7) have a five-game winning streak entering Sunday’s home game against the New York Jets (3-10).

NFL Network reported the news on Lindsay on Monday. Running backs Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed landed on the COVID list on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Gaskin, 24, leads the Dolphins with 526 rushing yards in 13 games. He also has 45 catches for 217 yards and has scored seven touchdowns (three rushing, four receiving).

Ahmed, 22, ranks second on the team with 149 rushing yards and has 12 catches for 117 yards in 12 games.

Lindsay, 27, was signed off waivers from the Houston Texans on Nov. 24 and made his Miami debut against the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 28. He carried 12 times for 42 yards in a 33-10 win.

–Field Level Media

Nov 15, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson (25) stiff arms Cleveland Browns cornerback Terrance Mitchell (39) as he moves in for the tackle during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins sign RB Duke Johnson to practice squad

The Miami Dolphins signed veteran running back Duke Johnson to their practice squad Tuesday.

Miami (1-6) ranks 31st in the NFL with 80.1 rushing yards per game this season heading into Sunday’s contest at Buffalo (4-2).

The Dolphins placed running back Malcolm Brown (quadriceps) on injured reserve Monday. He is second on the team with 125 rushing yards, trailing third-year back Myles Gaskin (243).

Johnson, 28, has not played in the NFL this season. He had a tryout with the Carolina Panthers in September and spent time on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad earlier this season.

A third-round pick by Cleveland in 2015, Johnson has rushed for 1,931 yards with eight touchdowns and caught 307 passes for 2,829 yards and 12 scores in 91 games (17 starts) with the Browns (2015-18) and Houston Texans (2019-20).

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) reacts after being sacked by Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (24) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa (rib) exits vs. Bills

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa left the field on a cart in the first quarter on Sunday and is questionable to return with a rib injury.

The second-year signal-caller took a hard shot from Buffalo Bills defensive end A.J. Epenesa while attempting to complete a pass on fourth down on Miami’s second possession.

The training staff came out to assist Tagovailoa and helped him walk to the sideline, where he was later loaded onto a cart and taken to the locker room.

He completed 1 of 4 passes for 13 yards and was sacked twice before exiting.

Jacoby Brissett replaced Tagovailoa.

–Field Level Media

Jun 16, 2021; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Austin Jackson (73) runs on the field during minicamp at Baptist Health Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins activate LT Austin Jackson from COVID list

The Miami Dolphins activated left tackle Austin Jackson from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday.

The 2020 first-round pick was placed on the list along with tight end Adam Shaheen on Sept. 6 after both tested positive.

Jackson, who is vaccinated, needed two negative tests separated by 24 hours to return to the active roster.

The Dolphins said Jackson will travel separately from the team to New England for Sunday’s season opener. He did not practice all week and is questionable for the game against the Patriots.

Jackson, 22, started 12 of his 13 games as a rookie last season.

Shaheen, who has been vocal with his anti-vaccination stance, must remain on the reserve/COVID-19 list for a minimum of 10 days.

–Field Level Media

Aug 21, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) drops back to attempt a pass against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama QBs square off as Patriots meet Dolphins

A pair of championship-winning quarterbacks from Alabama will meet for the first time on an NFL field as Mac Jones and the New England Patriots play host to Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins in the season opener for both teams on Sunday afternoon.

Jones, who was selected at No. 15 overall by the Patriots in this year’s draft, is set to make his NFL debut after guiding the Crimson Tide to their 18th national title in a 52-24 rout of Ohio State a season ago.

To get the starting job in New England, the 23-year-old beat out former NFL MVP Cam Newton, whom the Patriots released Aug. 31.

Tagovailoa is entering his second NFL season after being drafted No. 5 overall in 2020. He started nine of his 10 games for the Dolphins as a rookie last season. As a freshman at Alabama in 2017, Tagovailoa helped lead the Crimson Tide to a national championship with a 26-23 overtime victory against Georgia.

Jones and Tagovailoa were teammates at Alabama during the 2019 season. A then-junior Tagovailoa began the year as the starter before a season-ending hip injury made Jones the starter.

“Tua’s an awesome guy. He’s really a good, talented football player,” Jones told Boston radio station WEEI about his Week 1 matchup. “Learning from him and (Eagles quarterback) Jalen (Hurts) was great, obviously. Now that we’re all getting a chance here in the NFL, I think it’ll be cool to go up against each other.”

Jones will be surrounded be a revamped offense after the Patriots finished 7-9 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

The Patriots reloaded this offseason with the signings of tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne and the re-acquisition of Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Brown.

Henry, who missed time during the preseason with a shoulder injury, said he expects to play on Sunday.

New England’s defense will also get a boost from returning two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who opted out of the 2020 season, as well as linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who re-signed with the Patriots after being cut by the Dolphins in March. The Patriots also brought in two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Matt Judon to bolster their front seven.

Tagovailoa will look to build on an up-and-down rookie campaign in which he threw for 1,814 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Miami narrowly missed the playoffs, going 10-6 under second-year coach and former Patriots assistant Brian Flores.

“Good fundamentals, good technique, good communication, good decisions, and that he has fun playing his game that he loves to play,” Flores said when asked about his second-year expectations for Tagovailoa. “I love coaching football. I’m going to be having fun on Sunday.”

Flores said the Dolphins are preparing to be without tackle Austin Jackson and tight end Adam Shaheen on Sunday. Both are currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The game will feature the reunion of the McCourty brothers – Devin and Jason – who will be on opposite sidelines after spending the past three seasons together in New England. Jason McCourty was voted a team captain in his first season with Miami while Devin McCourty was named a captain in New England for the 11th time.

Agholor (ankle) was one of three Patriots players listed as limited in Wednesday’s practice report. Tackle Yodny Cajuste (hamstring) and safety Jalen Mills (ankle) also were limited. Miami tackle Liam Eichenberg (thigh) and wide receiver Preston Williams (foot) were limited participants for the Dolphins.

–Field Level Media

–Field Level Media