Here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s top stories:
Hightower Misses Practice, Gronk returns – After suffering an injury Sunday night, linebacker Dont’a Hightower was one of the notable names missing from Wednesday’s practice session.
Hightower gutted out the injury and missed just three plays after being out there for 58-of-61 defensive snaps against the Cardinals. He also played in six special teams snaps.
Meanwhile, Rob Gronkowski, Jonathan Cooper, and Nate Solder were spotted back at practice, with each player having missed Sunday night’s game. Gronkowski looked like he’s making progress and showed good explosion coming out of his stance on Wednesday, although he still seemed to be taking it slow as he continues working on getting healthy.
Video: TE Rob Gronkowski, who was limited in practice all last week, works on exploding out of his stance. pic.twitter.com/9qGUAmV5UC
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 14, 2016
It remains to be seen if he’ll push himself through enough to be out there on Sunday after being downgraded to “Out” last weekend prior to the Cardinals game, and the Patriots could certainly use his services as they get ready to face what should be a tough Dolphins defense this weekend.
Dolphins Ready for “Huge” Game Against the Patriots – Both Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh used the word “huge” to describe this weekend’s game in New England, and know full well that it’s their opportunity to grab ahold of the division and get an edge against a team they’ve struggled against in Foxboro in past seasons.
Overall the Dolphins are 2-12 at Gillette Stadium, with their last win coming in a season where Tom Brady was also sidelined, beating them back on September 21, 2008, in a 38-13 win, which also resulted in them winning the division, but it also played a factor in what ended up being the only time since 2002 the Patriots didn’t make it to the postseason.
“It’s a huge game; a huge week,” said Suh via Channel 10 out of Florida. “(It’s) very important for us to obviously get this first win in our division and kind of set the tone in that regard.”
As for Tannehill, he’s in what is a critical season for him with a new head coach and a Dolphins team that has enough talent to make some noise this year. However, beating the Patriots is obviously a big key in determining the course of their season, and dropping another loss and falling to 0-2 is something that he knows it will be important to avoid. For now he expects another difficult game, and he’s preparing for the Patriots to put together a tough defensive plan against them this weekend.
“I think that’s what you get when you face New England, you really never know,” Tannehill said via the Palm Beach Post. “They like to play their man coverage but they’re always going to throw something at you that they haven’t shown much of on tape and try to make you stumble a little bit – whether it’s in protection, a stunt up front, a blitz or a coverage that they haven’t shown.”
Garoppolo Staying Level-Headed – Jimmy Garoppolo has been the talk of the town this week after his big performance Sunday night, but Garoppolo told the media on Wednesday that the consistent approach by this team is something that makes it easy to stay grounded while remaining focused, which is something he said the coaches do a good job of.
“I think the atmosphere in the building – the coaching staff does a good job of keeping us level-headed, so it’s just a ‘never too high, never too low’ kind of thing,” said Garoppolo. “It’s just on to the next week. It’s a long season so you just have to keep moving on.”
He faces a tough battle this week, with the Dolphins having held Seattle’s offense to just 12 points while managing to put a beating on Russell Wilson after sacking the elusive quarterback three times in the contest as well as picking him off once. They amassed nine quarterback hits, which is a pretty impressive stat given who they were going against and that’s something Garoppolo is likely aware of.
One of the points of emphasis Garoppolo mentioned was the fact he’ll have to do a good job of getting rid of the football quickly again on Sunday because he knows he’ll be in trouble if he doesn’t.
“It’s going to be important,” said Garoppolo. :You don’t want to hold it back there, especially against these guys. They’re talented, they get off the ball fast and everything, so the more you hold it, the more trouble we’ll be in. We just have to do a good job of playing our game.”
For now, it’s a new week, and with Sunday in the rear view, Garoppolo seems to be handling the mentality that comes with being a starter well. With a tough division game coming up the elation of what happened Sunday night already seems to be out of his system, and now he’s looking forward to the next challenge he faces as he tries to help New England improve to 2-0 on the season.
“Sunday’s over with. We’re already into the Dolphins,” said Garoppolo. “We’ve been into the Dolphins for the last couple of days now, so it’s a new challenge and it’s a new week. That’s the season for you.”
Belichick Has Praise For Tannehill – After putting together a solid performance to knock the Patriots out of having a shot at the number one seed last season in the finale, the game seems to still be fresh in Bill Belichick’s mind as he talked about the Dolphins on Wednesday. One player who did a good job in that game was quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who Belichick said, “killed us” in their 20-10 loss in Miami.
“Since he killed us last year? I mean that was pretty good,” Belichick said of Tannehill, who passed for 350-yards and two touchdowns in the win. “He’s a good quarterback. He’s smart, he handles the offense well, he certainly takes control of things at the line of scrimmage, as we’ve seen quarterbacks do in Coach Gase’s offense.”
“It obviously runs through the quarterbacks. It tracks adjustments, but he’s a good decision-maker, he’s athletic, throws the ball well. He can certainly make plays out of the pocket. The big drive that he had in the fourth quarter going – I don’t know – 85, 90 yards against Seattle on the road to take the lead. I mean I don’t know how he could’ve done any more than that in that critical situation. He’s a good player. He’s definitely a problem for us.”
Patriots Sign WR White to the practice squad – The Patriots added a new player to their practice squad on Wednesday, adding another receiver to the mix after signing former Alabama standout Andrew White.
White was originally signed as a rookie free agent with the San Francisco 49ers back in 2015 and played in four games last year, finishing with two catches for 18 yards and also returned kicks in both the punt and kickoff return units.
Expectations seemed to be high on White and it was thought that he could even be a starter in the slot for them this season. But obviously things didn’t work out and the 49ers released him back on September 3rd, 2016.