Dolphins (1-2) vs Bengals (1-2)
Adam Gase may be a first-time head coach, but the 38-year-old was quick to light a fire under his underachieving team. He benched former first-round pick Ja’Wuan James after he got burned on a rush that led to a strip sack during last week’s contest. Gase hopes his aggressive action will provide a jolt for the sputtering Miami Dolphins, who will look to prevent their third 1-3 start in five years on Thursday when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals (Enter Contest).
About the Dolphins
With veteran Arian Foster still nursing a groin injury, Gase will be using rookie Kenyan Drake as the starter in a four-tier running back carousel. Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams and Isaiah Pead. will round out the carousel. Ajayi had an 11-yard touchdown run in overtime last week. The Dolphins’ 25th-ranked ground attack is mustering just 83 yards per game. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill leads his team in that department with his 54 yards accumulated. Fortunately for the Dolphins, the air game fairs much better. Tannehill continues to click with trusted target Jarvis Landry (AFC-leading 314 yards receiving) and fellow wideout DeVante Parke. Miami will go with Dion Sims this week because fellow tight end Jordan Cameron nurses the fourth concussion in his six-year career.
The sputtering Dolphins’ defense allowed 169 yards rushing last week and an NFL second-worst 147.3 yards per game. In the last meeting with the Bengals, DE Cameron Wake recorded three sacks. The final sack resulted in a safety during overtime and led Miami to a 22-20 victory.
About the Bengals
While Miami was fortunate to walk away with its first win, Cincinnati has followed its impressive season-opening victory over the New York Jets with a 24-16 loss to Pittsburgh in Week 2 and a 29-17 setback to Denver on Sunday. Mercurial Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is eager to stop the bleeding when he makes his season debut on Thursday after serving a three-game suspension for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules.
Running Back Jeremy Hill scored twice last week. He had 10 rushing touchdowns in his last 11 games. Andy Dalton (AFC-best 938 passing yards) has been limited to just 206 yards passing last week versus the Broncos. After an amazing first week, A.J. Green collected just 10 catches for 115 yards combined in his last two games. Cincinnati Pro Bowl TE Tyler Eifert (ankle) is not expected to make his season debut. CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring) has been held out of both practices this week, leaving his status for Thursday’s game in question.