Tyreek Hill presented a top priority for Dolphins playmakers in simple, whimsical terms this summer: Get “drunk off YAC.”
The Dolphins, through four games, are doing precisely that.
A year after finishing 25th in yards after catch, the Dolphins have risen to second. Only Cincinnati (552) has more yards after catch than the Dolphins, who have 506 in four games.
Hill leads the league in YAC yards at 177, on 5.7 per catch. Jaylen Waddle is third with 155 yards, after Philadelphia’s A.J. Brown.
What’s more, Waddle’s 7.4 YAC average is third in the NFL behind only Baltimore’s Rashod Batemon and San Francisco’s Deebo Samuel.
Last season, Waddle was 60th in YAC per reception at 4.6, and not a single Dolphins player ranked in the top 50 in the league in YAC.
Waddle made it a priority to improve in that area, and the jump has been significant.
“We talk about that all the time in our meeting rooms as a wideout; if you want to be good, just get the catch, but the great ones, they get drunk off the YAC,” Hill said during the summer.
And the improved YAC extends beyond Hill and Waddle.
Running back Chase Edmonds’ ability to create yards after the catch — and after contact — has resulted in two big plays this season: a key first down late in the Patriots game and a touchdown in the Bengals game, when he broke a tackle to score from 7 yards out.
Last season, Edmonds was 17th among all NFL backs and receivers in average receiving yards after contact. And he was 20th among all running backs in yards per reception at 7.2.
This season, he’s 14th in average receiving yards after the catch among running backs (minimum eight receptions).
“My first running back coach my rookie year, he always told me in this league you are going to have to find out your role, and once you find out your role, you’re going to have to excel at it and really put it on display,” Edmonds said. “That’s what keeps you in the NFL. And you find out your weaknesses, and you’ve got to protect those.
“I find out that in my role in the NFL, I found in Year 2, that one thing I could excel at, exceptionally above other running backs, was my ability outside the backfield. That’s something I really took to heart and really tried to home in on and felt if I wanted to be in the NFL, which I want to be for 10 plus years, it’s always good to be the quarterback’s best friend.
“That’s something that I feel like is kind of my niche. I feel like I can separate myself around other running backs in the NFL, just with my ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.”
Though Edmonds dropped a potential touchdown pass against Cincinnati, his ability to get open out of the backfield — and elusiveness when he catches the ball — are major assets.
“That’s something every team looks for, every team needs,” he said. “That’s something that could keep me employed.”
The Dolphins remain short-handed at cornerback.
Xavien Howard (two groin muscle injuries) and Keion Crossen (glute) again missed practice on Thursday, leaving Miami with just four healthy cornerbacks: Kader Kohou, Nik Neeham, Elijah Campbell and Noah Igbonighene.
And this raised eyebrows: Hill was limited with a quadriceps injury that surfaced this week. If a player receives treatment for any body part, he must be placed on the injury report.
Besides Howard and Crossen, four others missed practice: Tua Tagovailoa and Cethan Carter (concussion protocol), Robert Jones (back) and Terron Armstead (toe).
In addition to Hill being limited Thursday, Waddle (groin), Zach Sieler (hand), Salvon Ahmed (back) and Brandon Jones (chest) were limited.
Cut by the Philadelphia Eagles a month ago, quarterback Reid Sinnett had begun exploring a life after football. He was hired to do color commentary on alma mater San Diego University’s football game last Saturday against Stetson, started a podcast and set up plans to shadow the Toreros’ athletic director “to see if that’s something I was interested in.”
But then the Dolphins called. His former team needed a quarterback for depth purposes, after losing starter Tua Tagovailoa for an indefinite period with a concussion.
The Dolphins put Sinnett, former Cowboy Ben DiNucci and NFL journeyman Jake Fromm in the same hotel, drove them to the team facility and had them simultaneously throw passes on their practice field.
Miami chose Sinnett from that bunch, and he’s back where he spent parts of the 2020 and 201 season — on Miami’s practice squad, although under vastly different circumstances.
“It’s unique,” he said. “It’s a system I haven’t been in. It’s exciting to get to learn a new lingo, new coaches. It’s great coming back and seeing a lot of guys I considered close friends, and get to hang out with Tua again. I’m happy to be here.”
He said when he went into the lunch room, Mike Gesicki “yelled out” to injured tight end Adam Shaheen: “Your favorite player is back!”
Sinnett said: “I’ll take that. It was great to see Adam especially.”
He briefly talked about movies with general manager Chris Grier, a topic they have discussed in the past. (Sinnett noted Grier has been busy with the Dolphins and hasn’t been able to see anything recently.)
And he began learning a new offense.
If the Dolphins keep only two quarterbacks on the active roster against the Jets — starter Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson — and both are injured during the game, Sinnett could not play unless the Dolphins elevate him from the practice squad by 4 p.m Saturday.
Sinnett, who has never appeared in an NFL regular-season game, spent parts of the past two seasons on the Dolphins’ practice squad — and several weeks on their 53-man roster — before being released last Oct. 23.
The Eagles immediately claimed him off waivers and he spent the 2022 offseason and preseason with the Eagles. Philadelphia released Sinnett on Aug. 30, signed him to their practice squad on Aug. 31 and released him Sept. 7.
“I felt a little bit of the business side this year,” Sinnett said. “I felt last year I took a step forward in my career. It’s a chance to do some reflection. I had four weeks of sitting on the couch and trying to feel out what I wanted to do with my life. I don’t think my NFL career is over. If I keep getting better, I think opportunities will be there.”
Sinnett never called the game against Stetson, which was canceled because of Hurricane Ian.
How is he a different player from the one who was here previously?
“I’m leaner and a little more athletic,” he said.