Miami Dolphins update status of Tua, several other key injured players

Barry Jackson

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is questionable for Sunday’s game at the New York Jets because of a thumb injury that limited his participation in practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Tagovailoa has been dealing with a thumb injury on his (left) throwing hand after reportedly jamming it on a helmet in practice on Wednesday.

“Anytime there’s anything you have got to make a declaration,” coach Brian Flores said of the official injury report that requires a player to be designated as questionable, doubtful or out. “We have to watch the film [Friday] and see what it looks like. We figured questionable was the best declaration for him.”

Keep in mind that the NFL no longer allows teams to list players as probable, so that designation was not an option.

“Anytime you have an injury on any body part, a hindrance is a hindrance,” Flores said. “We try to work through it and treat it and that’s what Tua is doing. Everyone is a little bit different. I know he’s a tough, tough kid. He wants to play. We’ll see how this goes.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick will start if Tagovailoa does not play.

Flores said guard Solomon Kindley (foot) and running back Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) will miss Sunday’s game. Neither practiced Sunday.

Like Tagovailoa, receiver Jakeem Grant (hamstring) also was limited in practice on Friday and is listed as questionable.

Running back Myles Gaskin doesn’t need to be listed on the injury report because he’s on injured reserve (and eligible to come off), but Flores said it’s questionable if he will play on Sunday. Gaskin has missed the past three games with a sprained MCL but has practiced this week.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins will play on Sunday after missing two games on the COVID-19 list.

“Christian we’re excited to have back,” Flores said.

Wilkins said he had no symptoms.

“Happy to be back with the guys,” he said. “I was getting antsy. Missing ball is not something I’m used to. I was able to think how blessed I am to play this game.”

Wilkins declined to answer when asked if jumping on Preston Williams after a Williams touchdown in the Arizona game caused the foot injury that has Williams out indefinitely. (Flores previously suggested it didn’t cause the injury.)

Wilkins said he will keep celebrating like that but “maybe I can be a little smarter about it.”

One other availability note: Guard/tackle Jesse Davis came off the COVID-19 list on Thursday and is available to play on Sunday.

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury, will start against the Dolphins, coach Adam Gase said.

JONES WAITING

While Xavien Howard is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with six, Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones - who earns slightly more money - doesn’t have any.

But if Jones feels any interception envy, he isn’t letting on.

“Truthfully, when X gets an interception, in my mind, I also got it,” Jones said. “I feel that good when that happens. Obviously he has enough for everyone in the secondary.

“It’s funny, you can’t see my facial expression in the helmet but I’m like, ‘this freaking guy again?’ I just think it’s cool to look over to his side and see him get so many damn interceptions. It’s really amazing how he’s so attracted to the ball and he makes every play that comes to his side.

“It’s really cool to be on the other side and knowing that we communicate off the field often and we talk in the huddle. It’s been really fun up to this point. Hopefully we can keep this going and get the wins, but the kid is definitely on a roll.”

While Howard has limited quarterbacks to a 58.7 passer rating in his coverage area, Jones has permitted a 105.2 rating, which is 113th of 187 cornerbacks, per Pro Football Focus.

Jones - who signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal this past offseason - has allowed 26 of 40 passes in his coverage area to be caught, for 310 yard and two touchdowns.

But the defense has played better with Jones on the field.

Jones doesn’t have an interception in nearly three seasons as an NFL cornerback, including the past two in Dallas after moving over from safety.

“This is something that’s always in the back of my mind,” he said.

“Coach is always harping on it throughout practice, going up for the ball and looking back. It’s something that I haven’t done great in my career, but I’m doing a lot better now with the Dolphins.”

So what must change?

“When my opportunity comes, it’s just go attack that ball and make sure you come down with it,” Jones said. “X has enough for everybody in the defense. As long as he keeps getting them, we’re good. Obviously we all want to contribute in any way that we can, but it’s just continue to stick to the technique, play hard ball and play good ball, and it’ll come.”

Howard has four years remaining on his five-year, $75 million extension that he signed 19 months ago.

▪ One thing that’s hurting Tagovailoa: Dolphins receivers and tight ends get some of the least separation in the league.

Of all qualifying players, tight end Mike Gesicki and receiver DeVante Parker get only 1.9 yards of separation from the player covering them, on average, which ranks third and fourth worst in the league, per Next Gen Stats.

Preston Williams, before his foot injury, was seventh worst at 2.2 before his foot injury. Mack Hollins, Malcolm Perry and the others have struggled at times but don’t have enough snaps to quality for Next Gen stats.

That said, Parker and Gesicki are the best weapons that the Dolphins have available.

Gesicki led all NFL tight ends in yards per reception entering last weekend and Parker continues to do a very good job making contested catches.