The Miami Dolphins began their practice week at UCLA as they stay on the West Coast between road games against the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers.
Coach Mike McDaniel looks to get the team’s run game more involved after he only went to the ground attack eight times for 33 yards in the loss to the 49ers.
“When you only have eight rushing attempts, you, for sure, look back and understand why you made those decisions and then how you’re going to adjust that in the future,” said McDaniel ahead of Wednesday’s practice. “A lot of it had to do with game flow in the moment.
“When we did hand the ball off, we did have some successful gains and we were doing some solid things, but you have to get in a rhythm in the run game.”
Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. had just one carry for 3 yards. Raheem Mostert handled most of the load in their return to the Bay Area, with seven attempts for 30 yards. McDaniel wants to get both more touches, even if not necessarily on handoffs.
“It’s a shame they didn’t get more opportunities,” McDaniel said. “I look at that as 100 percent on me to find ways to involve them in the game, and if that means we’re not running the ball, that’s not an excuse. They’re very good receivers.”
Another factor that could influence how much the Dolphins go to the run would be a return from left tackle Terron Armstead after he missed Sunday’s game with a pectoral strain. Miami runs to his side more often than not due to his downhill blocking ability.
McDaniel said Armstead would not practice on Wednesday, but he was seen doing light individual work on the side at Wednesday’s session at UCLA. Last week, he missed Wednesday and Thursday drills before being a limited participant on Friday and being deemed doubtful for the game at San Francisco.
“He’s working hard at it,” McDaniel said. “Bottom line is, he’s a big part of our team that’s one of the reasons we are where we’re at.”
Despite Armstead’s minimal activity, he was officially listed as “did not participate” on the team’s injury report, along with outside linebacker Melvin Ingram for veteran rest.
Seven Dolphins were limited at Wednesday practice: quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (ankle), wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (fibula), quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (knee), defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (knee), safety Eric Rowe (back), tight end Durham Smythe (quad/knee) and defensive tackle Justin Zimmer (back).
The Dolphins are beginning a 21-day practice window for left guard Liam Eichenberg to return from injured reserve due to a knee injury as McDaniel said he will participate on a limited basis in Wednesday’s practice at UCLA.
“We’ll get a little action from him [Wednesday],” McDaniel said. “It’ll be in a very limited manner. Most of the stuff will be on the side, but he’s done an unbelievable job of getting himself to, really, where he’s at.”
Eichenberg suffered the injury against Detroit on Oct. 30 and has missed the last four games.
“I’m excited for him because he was playing his best football when he got injured,” McDaniel said.
The Dolphins coach added he doesn’t expect any imminent return for edge defender Trey Flowers, who has been on IR with a foot injury since getting hurt in the Oct. 16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Getting Fisher up to speed
After signing veteran tackle Eric Fisher on Monday, the Dolphins look to get the 2013 No. 1 draft pick up to speed with his new team, beginning with their practice week out west.
Fisher, who will wear No. 79, joined the Dolphins in California but has not had any activity with the team.
“We haven’t had even one walkthrough, and he hasn’t played football in a minute,” McDaniel said of the lineman who last played for the Colts last season after eight seasons with Kansas City. “On the other hand, one of the reasons we’re so fortunate to get him is because we know that clock. He’ll be up to speed fairly fast relative to most players, just because of experience, his intelligence and commitment. I just don’t know exactly how long that is.”
Fisher has mostly played left tackle in his career, so he could fill in for Armstead if he remains out. He also could compete at right tackle, where Brandon Shell is filling in for Austin Jackson, who may not return in the regular season as he is out at least four of the remaining five weeks.
Tua takes Pro Bowl votes lead
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has skyrocketed into the lead for Pro Bowl votes, the NFL announced on Wednesday.
Tagovailoa, at the latest update, has 138,390 votes, edging Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson (137,826). Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (133,607) is third with Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill fourth (132,100).
At the previous update announced on Nov. 28, Tagovailoa was not among the top five and was third among AFC quarterbacks, behind Mahomes and Buffalo’s Josh Allen.
Along with Tagovailoa and Hill, Armstead leads AFC tackles, Alec Ingold leads fullbacks in the conference and Blake Ferguson is now the top long snapper in the AFC.
Pro Bowl roster selections are determined by the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining the 88 Pro Bowl players. NFL players and coaches will cast their votes on Friday, December 16.