As Dolphins get healthier overall, all eyes on safety Brandon Jones after knee injury in win over Steelers – The Denver Post


The Miami Dolphins were just getting healthier overall.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and left tackle Terron Armstead were back for the 16-10 Sunday night win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard, in a second game since missing one due to injuries to his groins, is beginning to look like himself again, locking up his side and not being challenged by Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett.

But as some return, others are taken away.

On Sunday night, it was strong safety Brandon Jones leaving with a left knee injury. He was down on the field for a few minutes before being attended to in the team’s medical tent on the sideline and eventually escorted by trainers to the locker room. He was ruled out for the remainder of the night shortly thereafter.

The Dolphins await word on their leading tackler (49, 11 more than Jerome Baker’s 38 for second-most) on Monday as they travel for back-to-back road games at NFC North teams, the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, after improving to 4-3 with the victory over Pittsburgh.

The Jones injury comes on a unit that’s already been beaten down, the secondary. While just getting Howard back, cornerbacks Kader Kohou and Keion Crossen missed Sunday’s game. Byron Jones, a starter when healthy, doesn’t have an imminent return from the physically-unable-to-perform list. Nik Needham, the nickel cornerback when all are healthy, was lost last week to an Achilles tear.

But through injury comes opportunity for those lower on the depth chart. It was only because of such attrition that Noah Igbinoghene sealed Sunday night’s win with an interception, the first of his three-year career, with 18 seconds remaining. Or Justin Bethel, a career special teams ace, coming up with his first interception since 2017.

At Brandon Jones’ strong safety spot in the second half Sunday, it was mostly Clayton Fejedelem, another player on the roster primarily for special teams contributions, plus undrafted rookie and practice-squad elevation Verone McKinley and veteran Eric Rowe, who already has his dime-package role. Fejedelem got 18 defensive snaps, Rowe 17 and McKinley 16 against the Steelers.

Fejedelem stepped up with four tackles and a pass deflection. Rowe had two tackles, and McKinley recorded one.

Who would’ve thought, when the season started, the Dolphins would have combinations of Igbinoghene, Bethel, Fejedelem, McKinley and undrafted rookie defensive lineman Ben Stille on the field together for late stops in a prime-time win? Stille, playing nine snaps Sunday, was elevated from the practice squad to help deal with the absence of defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah due to a back injury.

Ogbah, Kohou (oblique) and Crossen (knee) were seen participating in light exercises early pregame Sunday evening while out of uniform. Their statuses will also be monitored throughout the week, along with Jones. Overall, though, it was a welcome sight for the Dolphins to have Howard, Armstead, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, tight end Durham Smythe and tackle Greg Little available when all entered questionable. Aside from Little, all six of those started Sunday.

Jones’ run support will be one of the key aspects of his game that will be missed if he has to miss extended time, as well as his ability to blitz from the safety position. He already has two sacks in seven games this season after collecting five in 2021.

This story will be updated.



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