This week, the Dolphins get back their only player on offense who has ever been to a Pro Bowl.
The question is what kind of role awaits running back Phillip Lindsay on Monday at New Orleans and over the team’s final three games.
His Dolphins debut – on Nov. 28 against Carolina – was encouraging, including 12 rushes for 42 yards. But he missed the subsequent game against the Giants with an ankle injury, then sat out Sunday’s game against the Jets while on the NFL’s COVID-19 list.
During his absence, Duke Johnson ran for 107 yards against the Jets, creating difficult decisions at what had been one of the Dolphins’ weakest positions for much of the season.
The Dolphins now must figure out how to allocate carries among Johnson, Lindsay, Myles Gaskin (who has started 10 games this season), Salvon Ahmed and Malcolm Brown, who has missed seven games with a quadriceps injury but is practicing and ready to return from injured reserve.
“I’m very antsy, very excited,” Lindsay said Wednesday. “I’m very excited to be back and do what I’m supposed to do, whatever that is.”
Lindsay said he had no symptoms – aside from fatigue – during his bout with COVID last week and isolated in his basement because he was worried about his fiancee (who caught the virus after him) and his 1-year-old child.
“I stayed downstairs in my basement the whole time,” he said. “My fiancee ended up getting it and two days later, her muscles were hurting really bad. We had to quarantine, keep our son from getting it. You see how real this is and see it’s something serious that people are still dying from today. I’ve had family members hospitalized” before the vaccine was available.
He said the fact he was vaccinated was “one of the reasons I didn’t have significant symptoms.”
Lindsay – who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie for Denver in 2018 – pointed to one positive of missing games:
“I got to observe and watch my teammates and understand the run scheme and understand what they’re looking for.”
He said he kept in shape during quarantine by doing push-ups and sit-ups.
He appreciates what Johnson did when given the chance.
“People see Duke can catch the ball well, but he really is a hard nosed runner,” Lindsay said. “Think when he was at the University of Miami, that’s what he does best. It’s about finishing blocks, finishing runs. If you do that enough, you can wear defenses down and get the momentum going. Duke did a great job breaking tackles. Duke is 210, strong, patient. Duke was hungry, coming from Cleveland and Houston.”
Johnson broke eight tackles against the Jets, most of any running back this past weekend, per Pro Football Focus.
THIS AND THAT
Though the Dolphins removed safety Jevon Holland from the COVID-19 list on Saturday, he hadn’t cleared protocols as of Wednesday morning and consequently wasn’t permitted to practice. He still needs to get another negative test.
Two Dolphins players remain on the COVID-19 list: cornerback Justin Coleman and practice squad running back Gerrid Doaks.
Beyond Holland, Coleman and Doaks, two other Dolphins missed Wednesday’s practice: receiver Albert Wilson and offensive lineman Robert Jones. Flores said Wilson is out for personal reasons but will be available for Monday’s game.
Receiver DeVante Parker is being given a rest day on Wednesday.
▪ Like Lindsay, Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle indicated he also wasn’t sick during his bout with COVID.
“I was at the house just chilling, on quarantine,” he said.
Did he have any symptoms? “No, I was cool for real,” he said.
But he said missing Sunday’s Jets game “was very disappointing. I watched enough games last year when I was in college” and was sidelined for seven games with an ankle injury.
Waddle, incidentally, said he’s going to Tua Tagovailoa’s house for Christmas on Saturday.
“Hopefully he has gifts for me,” Waddle said of his Dolphins and former Alabama teammate. “He doesn’t even know I’m going there. I might pop up at a whole bunch of peoples’ houses to get food, show my face.”
▪ Flores didn’t seem thrilled with Tagovailoa taking on a Jets defender head-on on an eight-yard run on Sunday.
“When you’re in the moment, you want to see most guys slide in that situation,” Flores said. When you’re in the moment, those guys have got to make decisions. I prefer he slides and keeps himself out of harm’s way.”
The Dolphins placed guard Robert Jones on the COVID-19 list. He played 10 snaps on Sunday against the Jets, with Flores callling him a tight end.