By: Ron Hiatt
Thursday, the Miami Dolphins placed DL Christian Wilkins, LB Kyle Van Noy, and WR Matt Cole on the Covid IR list making them ineligible for Sundays home game against the LA Chargers at 4:05 pm EST. Miami also took WR Lynn Bowden Jr off the Covid IR list yesterday.
The loss of Wilkins to the Dolphins defensive front is a massive blow, as Davon Godchaux is already on IR. The “Next Man Up” is a culture being built in Miami by Brian Flores and his staff. Those next men up to fill in for Wilkins will likely be rookies Benito Jones, Nick Coe, and Jason Strowbridge with more snaps from Zach Sieler and Raekwon Davis.
Davis has started to flash his potential since moving to NT from 3-tech and 4-tec, while sharing a rotation with Sieler and Wilkins with a little of Jones at NT. Strowbridge has position flexibility and that will be on display Sunday as he will surely see some action inside as a rotation guy to help replace the loss of Wilkins. Jones, in limited action the last 2 weeks, has looked promising with his limited opportunities and hopefully his development will continue with a bigger role. Coe to me, would be an interesting player that I would like to see get promoted for his first game being a home game vs the Chargers. Like Strowbridge, Coe offers rare size at 6’5’’ 291 and speed to play inside and outside in this Flores defense.
The loss of Van Noy is going to hurt in more ways than one. The first way is the loss of his veteran leadership and familiarity with Flores’ system and communicating that to the younger players. Van Noy brings position versatility which will probably require more than one player to fill what he brings to the defense. Again, the “next man up” which is likely to be Sam Eguavoen, Andrew Van Ginkel, Tyshun Render, and Jason Strowbridge. Keep an eye out for who the Dolphins activate or promote before Sunday’s game.
Eguavoen will get a bigger role on defense to go along with his Special Teams role. Strowbridge has size at 6’4’’ 275 and versatility which both will be on display, likely seeing action inside as well as outside action with these two key losses on defense. Strowbridge did a nice job setting the edge with his limited opportunities last week against Arizona, something Van Noy is known for. Render at 6’4’’ 255 and has been active only for the 49’ers game and offers size, speed, and youth this Sunday in place of Van Noy.
The two losses of Wilkins and Van Noy will have ripple effect to the Special Teams unit that is one of the best in the league. Eguavoen and Van Ginkel are key Special Teams players and will be called upon for bigger roles on defense this week. Special Teams is where Flores got his start coaching and takes it very seriously so hopefully these losses do not negatively impact this unit. The next man up is expected to step up and produce immediately.
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