Miami Dolphins, facing COVID-19 issues, set to welcome NY Jets

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) – When Miami faced the New York Jets last month, Jaylen Waddle scored the Dolphins’ first touchdown and Myles Gaskin scored to put them forward to stay.

The Dolphins might not be able to count on repeat performances this weekend.

Waddle and Gaskin – Miami’s top receiver and top rusher respectively – were among a handful of dolphins on the league’s COVID-19 reserve list this week. Gaskin was cleared to resume training on Friday, but it’s still unclear how many players Miami (6-7) will have to go through when he puts his five-game winning streak on the line on Sunday against the Jets (3-10). .

Miami already had three running backs, including Gaskin, as well as rookie security Jevon Holland on the COVID-19 roster when news arrived Thursday that Waddle was added to that group. Gaskin has 61% of Miami’s carries and 62% of rushing yards for the Dolphins during the five-game winning streak; Waddle has more catches than all of Miami’s other two receivers combined during this time frame.

“Same old. The guys who are next, they have to understand that their number could be called and they have to be prepared to help this team win,” said Dolphins offensive lineman Michael Deiter. “Everyone involved. has to be ready to be the next player… because it’s obviously real. COVID is real. ”

The Dolphins had practice and tours as usual, but switched mid-week to virtual meetings rather than in person. The Jets had been in this mode all week, obviously aware of the growing number of viruses.

Both teams said they try to stay focused on football. Miami – a team that was 1-7 by the trade deadline – still have some playoff hopes. The Jets are out of the playoff picture, but any game in this series is still seen as a renewal of rivalry.

“You can see they kind of changed offensively with their identity,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said of the Dolphins and their winning streak.

“Defensively, they played with the lights off and all to their credit. They have just settled into what their basic system is. It seems they really simplified it, while keeping it complex at the same time.

Simplification is imposed from above in Miami. Ask Dolphins coach Brian Flores a question about the future, and his response will always be a version of him saying he’s just focusing on the tasks of that day, the next practice, the next opponent.

“We’re playing against the Jets and we’re trying to win one game. That’s it, ”said Flores.

THE RHYTHM OF WADLE

Waddle has 86 catches, already a Miami rookie record, and is 15 short of Anquan Boldin’s 2003 NFL rookie mark of 101. If he misses a game, he will stay in pace to overtake Boldin. for the rookie record.

Waddle has also racked up 849 yards this season, 34 off the Dolphins rookie mark of Chris Chambers in that category.

QB NUMBERS

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson was 19 of 42 for 202 yards in the 30-9 loss to New Orleans last week. Wilson’s 45.2% completion rate was the second-lowest of any quarterback with at least 40 attempts in a game this season.

“He had a couple that ran away,” Saleh said. “There were also some who were there. We didn’t help him make parts. This is something he needs to improve.

Meanwhile, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has no issues with precision these days. He is only the second Miami player – Chad Pennington being the other – to play three straight games with a completion rate of at least 73%.

JETS ON D

The Jets have improved slightly in defense over the past few weeks, but still have issues stopping the run and knocking out big plays. The Saints traveled 203 yards rushing against the Jets, a number Miami will be hard-pressed to approach given its COVID-19 issues at that position.

“We just have to keep being consistent and execute every play,” said defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. “If we can control those two or three explosives that happened, especially towards the end of the game, I think we can potentially be a great defense. “

AFTER A GOODBYE

The Dolphins are 18-14 after a week off, including a 2017 win that followed the Week 1 “bye”. This will be their sixth game after the break against the Jets, with New York winning three of the weekends. first five.

HEAT

Forecasters are calling for a high of 83 degrees in Miami Gardens on Sunday, as opposed to an expected 41-degree day in the New York area. “There is going to be a challenge. It’s no different from a team from the south going up in the cold. But you just need to be aware of the hydration this week, ”Saleh said.

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AP Pro Football writer Dennis Waszak Jr. in Florham Park, New Jersey, contributed.

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