Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson and guard Solomon Kindley came off the COVID-19 list and returned to practice on Friday, leaving Miami with four players from their 53-man roster on the COVID list.
And those four Dolphins placed on the COVID list on Monday — Adam Butler, John Jenkins, Brandon Jones and Preston Williams – can come off the list on Sunday and play against Tennessee if they aren’t symptomatic.
Coach Brian Flores was unsure about whether Jones (a starter) and Butler (a key reserve) will be ready to play Sunday.
If the Dolphins believe both have a good chance of coming out of protocol on Sunday morning, they can activate them before Saturday’s 4 p.m. roster deadline to make sure they could play Sunday if they clear protocol, which no longer requires a negative test provided the players aren’t exhibiting symptoms.
The Dolphins did that with Jevon Holland two weeks ago, but he wasn’t able to clear protocol in time to play against the Jets on Dec. 19.
Flores addressed other issues in his Friday Zoom session:
▪ Flores and his players understandably have declined to discuss any playoff possibilities, instead focusing all of their comments on the next game.
So does Flores ask people in his personal life not to discuss the playoffs with him or anything that extends beyond the next opponent?
“No, I understand that thought process and why those questions are asked. I think we all do. I also know that the fans and our family members, they’re not going to be out there trying to block Jeffery Simmons or trying to cover these receivers. That’s not in their future either, so they don’t need to spend all their energy on that.
“I think our guys do. I think when you look at it from that lens – you’re not the one out there blocking (Bud) Dupree or covering Julio (Jones). I think if we had to do that – if everyone else had to do that – I think they’d try to focus on that. They wouldn’t be looking kind of down the road. I think that’s pretty reasonable.
“So no, I don’t try to tell anyone ‘don’t talk about to me about this, don’t talk to me about that.’ I think my energy and my focus is where it is and other people’s energy can be where it wants to be. But I think people can respect and understand why we want to put our energy on the Titans and no one else, and we respect and understand why people are thinking differently or thinking past that.”
▪ If Brandon Jones cannot play Sunday, Eric Rowe likely would start alongside Jevon Holland, though Flores didn’t say that.
Flores values Rowe, a former starter who has experience playing every snap if needed.
“Eric is a big contributor to this team, leadership, experience, talented, tackles well,” Flores said. “The game is important to him. He’s smart. It’s great to have him on our team. He’s been great to the young guys. He has done a nice job for us.”
THIS AND THAT
For the second time in a month, Tua Tagovailoa on Monday took a hard hit while scrambling. Flores already has said that he prefers that Tagovailoa slides to protect himself. Have others told him that?
“Yeah, literally everyone,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s not just the coaches. Everyone. [The Dolphins’ senior director of football communications] comes up to me and asks me why I’m not sliding….
“Just being out there, it’s different. For me, in that scenario, I wanted to get a first down so [Saints cornerback] P.J. Williams fell off the guy that he was covering and that’s what happened. At the end of the day, it’s football.”
▪ Nik Needham followed his first career interception return for a touchdown by throwing the ball toward the Superdome rafters during Monday’s game.
But thanks to Mack Hollins — who caught the ball on the way down — Needham will be able to keep it.
“I definitely have to save that one, for sure,” Needham said. “I gave my first pick to my mom and my second one to my dad, so I’ll keep this one.”
▪ Center Michael Deiter, on the state of the Dolphins’ offensive line in the wake of Monday’s game at New Orleans: “Didn’t play well enough, obviously. A lot of stuff that we need to correct and get tighter with.”
Whereas every Dolphins reserve offensive lineman on the 53-man roster tested positive for COVID in the past two weeks, none of the starters had, as of Friday morning.
“I don’t know how that worked out,” Jesse Davis said. “It was kind of like every day someone else got it. Luckily the starters didn’t get it, so I’m thankful for that. I’m kind of a homebody myself.”