The Miami Dolphins have been without starting corner Cortland Finnegan for three weeks, and it was two weeks after his injury that they lost cornerback Jamar Taylor to a shoulder injury that has him ruled out against the Ravens. If that weren't bad enough, Taylor's fellow second-year corner Will Davis was put on injured reserve during the Dolphins victory against the Buffalo Bills. With all that, the Dolphins secondary has been severely weakened over the past few weeks.
To say that the secondary is depleted would be paramount to saying the ocean is wet or that fire is hot. It's so painfully obvious that mentioning it seems like a waste of time and effort. Unfortunately, it's an issue that cannot be ignored as the secondary has been a big part of why the Dolphins defense as a whole has succeeded, almost as much as the defensive line has been.
“I think what happens is it seems like every year, almost league-wide, there is a run on a certain position." said head coach Joe Philbin. "You could look at us. Last night, our second corner, our third corner and our fourth corner were all unavailable, you know what I mean."
The Dolphins made attempts to bolster their cornerback depth in the recent weeks, but although Jalil Brown was the first man signed to actually play, he was inactive in his first week back with the team and was almost immediately released again in favor of another familiar face in R.J. Stanford, who - while not as good as a pure corner as Brown is - is a pretty good special teams player, which also helps the Dolphins considering their weaknesses on that unit.
“We went into the game with the idea that we were going to play three corners and see how things developed in certain packages. Jimmy (Wilson) being the most experienced of the group, we felt confident with the grouping we were starting the game in, that would be a good way to begin." said defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. "Then as we went through the game, R.J. (Stanford), was the first guy in the game when we went to some of our substitution packages and Walt Aikens played some snaps during the course of the game."
Aikens, for his part, clearly has the talent required to be a pretty good player, but up until now, the team has felt that he might be better suited to be a safety than a cornerback. In this moment of crisis, the Dolphins have moved him back to his college position to see what he could do while still relying on Jimmy Wilson to take the majority of the snaps.
"We wanted to get an evaluation of those guys being that the two younger guys haven’t been there very much," said Coyle. "But also having the security of knowing Jimmy was a guy that we could do certain things with, that has played a lot of snaps for us.”
In the most recent reports from training camp, it appears that Cortland Finnegan is moving well and will hopefully be ready to play against the Baltimore Ravens, which would be a major boost considering the disarray the secondary has been in the past several weeks. With Finnegan back, things suddenly don't look so bad.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater