Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel opened his Wednesday press conference with a statement in reaction to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s shocking cardiac arrest and collapse on the field in Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals that caused the game to be suspended.
Hamlin has been in critical condition in the intensive care unit at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
“It’s hard for me to see all that hurt,” McDaniel said, in part. “My heart just breaks for everyone involved. I think the wake of that is long and strong and ever-pervasive. My heart aches for the whole Bills organization, specifically Damar’s family and himself, but also everybody that chooses to play football and the things that those emotions can elicit.”
McDaniel said he was asleep Monday night when the incident occurred and his wife woke him up to see what had happened.
Choking up later in his press conference, detailing his live reaction, he added: “The families, that’s where it gets me.”
Several Dolphins players offered their reaction to Monday night’s frightening scene in Cincinnati on Wednesday.
“When you see a guy collapse on the field and need CPR and stuff like that, it’s very nerve-wracking, especially in the magnitude that it happened in that way,” running back Raheem Mostert said. “It’s definitely eye-opening. That play is going to live with me for the rest of my life, and it’s scary.”
“It’s not just players that you worry about. It’s players’ wives, girlfriends, families and kids that see that,” said punter Thomas Morstead, who added that the team had a moment to address it together before preparing for the New York Jets this Sunday. “It was just more of a reinforcement that we really do have the best specialists in the world that are looking out for us and caring for us.”
Said defensive tackle Christian Wilkins: “I’m definitely still dealing with it, guys are still dealing with it in our own ways. It’s definitely a tough situation to see.”
Dolphins defensive tackles Justin Zimmer and Jaylen Twyman are former teammates with Hamlin. Zimmer was previously with him with the Bills, and Twyman, a practice squad player, played with him collegiately at Pittsburgh.
Aside from the quarterback situation with Tua Tagovailoa still in concussion protocol and Teddy Bridgewater trying to work through a dislocated pinky finger, the Dolphins (8-8) are hoping to get top talents in left tackle Terron Armstead, cornerback Xavien Howard and outside linebacker Bradley Chubb back for the regular-season finale against the Jets (7-9) after they missed last Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots.
None of them practiced Wednesday, although McDaniel said he planned to give them the day regardless and that the trio has made progress.
“I don’t think that really necessarily gives any indication of what they’ll be on Sunday,” McDaniel said. “I think they’ve progressed. Regardless of how much they progressed, my plan wasn’t to have them practice [Wednesday] anyway just for confidence reasons and just for bottom-line health. When you’re banged up as a veteran fighting through injuries, it’s not smart on a Wednesday.”
Armstead still has toe, pectoral, knee and hip injuries listed on the injury report. Howard is battling through a knee ailment. Chubb, who was seen stretching with the team Wednesday but not participating in drills, has hand and ankle injuries. Instead of a cast, he wore a brace on the right hand Wednesday.
Tackle Kendall Lamm (ankle) and wide receiver/punt returner Cedrick Wilson Jr. (hip) also missed Wednesday drills. Mostert and outside linebacker Melvin Ingram had veteran rest days.
Five Dolphins were limited at Wednesday’s session, with Bridgewater being one of them. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (shoulder), tackle Eric Fisher (calf), fullback Alec Ingold (thumb) and safety Eric Rowe (quadriceps) were the others.
The Jets didn’t have tackle Duane Brown (shoulder), guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (knee), cornerback Brandon Echols (quadriceps), tackle George Fant (knee) and safety Lamarcus Joyner (hip) participate in their Wednesday practice.
No scoreboard watching
McDaniel made it clear he does not want to be made privy of the score to the Bills-Patriots game going on at the same time as his game against the Jets with the Dolphins needing a win from Buffalo over New England, plus their own victory, to secure the AFC’s final wild-card spot.
“Absolutely not,” McDaniel said. “Any focus on something that you can’t control I don’t think helps render the desired result.
“We know the result of another game that we’d like, but at the same time, my first and foremost priority is trying to get this team through some tough times and feel a win again.”
“Control what you can control, take care of the things you can take care of and let the chips fall where they may,” he said.
Ping pong gone
The Dolphins’ ping pong table was again missing from the heart of the team’s locker room at its practice facility Wednesday.
Miami had one table in the locker room to start the season. Then, after two consecutive losses between Weeks 4 and 5, it was gone in the week ahead of the Oct. 16 game against the Minnesota Vikings, another loss.
McDaniel initially said captains and leaders in the locker room decided to get the table out of there to improve team focus, but wide receiver Tyreek Hill the next day, possibly joking, said it was about ordering a Dolphins-themed ping pong table because the old one broke.
On Friday, Dec. 2, a new ping pong table made its debut before the team traveled for a week-plus on the West Coast for road games against the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers. It, however, did not have any Dolphins theme to it.
That was the start of the team’s five-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the Jets that could determine Miami’s playoff fate.
Dolphins records by ping pong table go as follows: Original table 3-2 (finished on two-game losing streak); no table 5-1 (finished on five-game winning streak); new table 0-5.