Dolphins G Isaac Asiata sits all year, vows, “I’m not doing this again”

Asiata has yet to even dress for a game. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE—Few rookies would have the temperament to accept being benched all season with a positive attitude, but Dolphins guard Isaac Asiata is an unusual rookie. He’s about to turn 25 and he’s uncommonly mature.

Asiata came in as a fifth-round pick with an opportunity to fight his way into the offensive line rotation at guard, but it was clear early the team didn’t think he was ready to play. Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen even went far enough to call it a red-shirt year.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned, and something my mom taught me in life, is to be humble,” Asiata said. “I don’t have all the answers and I don’t act like I do.

“It was nice for me to get adjusted. Now that adjustment period is over. I’m not doing this again.”

There’s a chance Asiata (6-foot-3, 341 pounds) could make his pro debut Sunday against the Bills as coach Adam Gase considers letting some of his little-used young players get some extended run in a game that has no stakes for Miami.

On the offensive line, Ted Larsen is one of the best candidates to rest. He’s been dealing with an injury most of the season and, as a veteran, doesn’t need reps in a game that doesn’t mean anything.

For Asiata, though, it’d be a great chance to play against Buffalo’s first-string defensive line. He said he hasn’t been told whether he’s playing this week. If he does get the opportunity, he believes he’s much more prepared than he would’ve been at the start of the season.

“It’s been nice because I’ve been able to work,” he said. “I knew I had to make some adjustments when I got here. It’s a different scheme and it’s a whole new speed.

“I was able to learn the playbook, have things slow down and go against some of the best d-linemen in the league. I appreciate (Ndamukong) Suh and Jordan Phillips and all those guys for going at me and being able to learn from them. It’s been a fun year.”

While he knew it would be a significant transition from Utah to the NFL, he didn’t expect to sit out his entire rookie year. That was a blow to his confidence.

“It was a little bit, but you’ve gotta just roll with the punches,” Asiata said. “I love this team because it would be easy to get down on yourself if nobody really cares, but the guys on this team supported me. Even though I wasn’t playing, they didn’t treat me any different. They know I’m working on things and trying to get better.

It became clear to him after the first few regular-season games that the Dolphins were going to keep him on the bench all year. Anthony Steen, Jesse Davis, Larsen and Jermon Bushrod all started games at guard this year

It’s unclear how many of those guys will be back in 2018. Steen will be a restricted free agent, and Bushrod could be ready to retire at age 33. Furthermore, it’s possible the Dolphins will shift Davis permanently to right tackle.

If Asiata wants to be in the mix for some of those snaps next year, the coaches have told him he must get faster overall and quicker with his footwork. He needs to “get my feet out of cement,” to use his words. Whether he plays in the Buffalo game or not, he has about eight months to get his play up to the level Miami expects if he wants avoid another season like this.

“I don’t think I could’ve landed with a better team,” Asiata said. “I fit here. I fit in the locker room. I fit in the scheme. Now it’s my turn to turn it up a notch and have a good year next year.”

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Miami Dolphins activate guard Ted Larsen in time for Raiders game

Ted Larsen could make his debut Sunday. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE–The Dolphins need some help on the offensive line and they’re about to get a boost.

Veteran guard Ted Larsen was activated from Injured Reserve today, making him available to play Sunday night against the Raiders. He had been out since the preseason after suffering a torn biceps and returned to the practice field this week. Miami coach Adam Gase said Friday the team hadn’t decided yet whether Larsen would be moved to the active roster, let alone whether he would play.

If he’s ready for it, he’ll likely appear at left guard. That’s been a problematic spot for Miami, which lost Anthony Steen to a season-ending injury last week. Jesse Davis is currently in line to start there.

Larsen, an eighth-year veteran, signed with Miami last offseason and was expected to be a starter before getting hurt. He played 16 games, including eight starts, for the Bears last season.

After his first day of practice Wednesday, Larsen said the injury healed and he felt up to speed on what the team is doing scheme-wise.

“I just went out there and tried to get the first day in,” he said. “It’s awkward. You try to feel your way through it and try to go hard and try to do what you do.”

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Starting Miami Dolphins guard Anthony Steen has foot surgery

Anthony Steen. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — Anthony Steen, the Dolphins’ starting left guard, had surgery on his injured foot and will be out indefinitely.

In Thursday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, Steen was replaced by Jesse Davis, a versatile but undrafted first-year player from Idaho.

Another player who might soon be in the mix is veteran Ted Larsen, a free-agent pickup this offseason who is coming off a torn biceps but is expected to practice next week. He started the season on injured reserve.

“Steen’s injury is going to be awhile,” coach Adam Gase said Friday. “Jesse did all right. I didn’t see him being the main culprit for anything that was really causing a lot of issues. The good thing about Jesse is he is strong. That was a good matchup for him just getting his hands on guys and not allowing penetration.”

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Final injury update for Miami Dolphins before Baltimore Ravens game

Will DeVante Parker pull a “Lazarus”? (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

BALTIMORE—The Dolphins have been planning on Matt Moore being their starting quarterback Thursday against the Ravens and made that official today by ruling out Jay Cutler.

This will be Moore’s first start since last December, when he took over for Ryan Tannehill. It’s unclear how long he’ll hold the role because the team is hopeful Cutler will be healthy enough to play soon. Miami coach Adam Gase declines to say whether the job is currently an open competition or Cutler will automatically reclaim his job.

The group charged with protecting Moore is in rough shape, too. The Dolphins ruled out left guard Anthony Steen because of a foot injury, and a league source said utility man Jesse Davis will start in his place.

Left tackle Laremy Tunsil left last weekend’s game with a knee injury, though Gase indicated he thinks he’ll be available against Baltimore. Right tackle Ja’Wuan James (hand) and Mike Pouncey (hip, knee) should play.

The Dolphins haven’t made a call on wide receiver DeVante Parker yet, and he’s questionable. He missed the last two games with an ankle injury, but offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen expressed some optimism that he might get a green light at kickoff.

“He hasn’t risen quite yet, but I felt some tremors,” said Christensen, who jokingly called Parker “Lazarus” because he surprised the staff by declaring himself good to go at the last minute before the Baltimore game last year. “We’re still hoping. We’re still looking anxiously.

“He is improving. How far can he get on this short week and without the practice sessions will be—I think the same thing, it’ll be a game-time decision… I’m hoping so. We’re all hoping.”

Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (ankle) and defensive end Andre Branch (groin) are also questionable, which could lead to some patching up front. The Dolphins felt good enough about Phillips’ health last week to make backup defensive tackle Vincent Taylor inactive, but that might not be a luxury they can afford Thursday. If Branch sits, they’ll likely rotate veteran William Hayes and rookie Charles Harris in his spot.

Miami has several other players dealing with injuries, but they’re expected to play.

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Yes, Anthony Steen, you really are penciled in as Miami Dolphins’ starting guard

Anthony Steen has won a starting job at guard. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — Maybe Anthony Steen was just being guarded.

Maybe he was caught off-guard.

Whatever the circumstances, Steen cautiously reacted to the news Monday that he’s on track to start at left guard for the Dolphins in their opener against Tampa Bay.

“Right now it looks like Steen will probably be our guy, unless something changes throughout the week,” coach Adam Gase said. “He’s done a really good job with the flexibility to move to multiple positions.”

All this appeared to come as news to Steen, who said coaches hadn’t told him he had the edge over Jesse Davis and Isaac Asiata to start opposite Jermon Bushrod.

“I haven’t talked to him,” Steen said of Gase.

When reporters relayed what Gase had said, Steen remained cautious.

“Yeah, yeah, but if y’all look at all our practices, I’m still rotating left guard, right guard, center, just in case anyone goes down,” he said. “I’ve got to be ready.”

He said nailing down a starting job “has always been a dream.”

Steen started seven games at center in place of Mike Pouncey as a rookie last year from  Alabama. Since he hadn’t had experience at center, Steen said he was “a nervous wreck” spelling Pouncey.

Now, Pouncey is back.

“I think our chemistry is going to start to click,” Steen said. “Start to get a little bit more reps together as a unit and not switch up as much.”

Having Jay Ajayi, who ran for 1,272 yards last year, often by running over people, helps the line, Steen said.

“It’s not as much pressure when you’ve got a running back who can make anybody miss a block,” Steen said. “That’s always a plus.”

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 Join our reporters for a special evening as they talk NFL with Dolphins Pro Bowl Guard Jermon Bushrod, two-time Super Bowl champion Bob Kuechenberg and former Dolphins Pro Bowl linebacker Kim Bokamperon Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Bokamper’s Fort Lauderdale. The event is free to the first 100 people and will include raffles, light bites and drinks.

Miami Dolphins’ roster set, now time for depth chart decisions

The Dolphins are down to 53. Now they need a depth chart. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

The Dolphins just completed what is almost certainly the biggest roster cut in franchise history, going from 89 to 53, and they’re not done yet.

The rest of the weekend will be a scramble for them as they try to cement the roster before Monday’s practice, which marks the beginning of their preparation for the upcoming season opener against the Buccaneers. Miami contributed to a deluge of more than 1,000 free agents Saturday and will scour the market for anyone it deems to be an upgrade over players it decided to keep.

“Most of our guys have been going for quite a while now,” coach Adam Gase said after the preseason finale. “It’s a long process and a lot of work. We’ll see how it goes down and maybe see if there’s anybody we’re going to switch out, or if we’re good with the guys we’ve got.”

There are no major surprises among the 53 players the Dolphins penciled into their roster Saturday. The same core they’ve been planning on for the Tampa Bay game is still intact, leaving depth chart placement as the next task.

Left guard is the only spot on offense yet to be determined, and that decision comes down to Anthony Steen versus Jesse Davis. Steen was with the team all last season, playing 15 games (seven starts) at center, and Davis has been fairly even with him over the past few weeks. Miami started Steen at left guard when Mike Pouncey played in the third preseason game, then went with Davis in the final one.

Davis is the team’s feel-good story of the weekend after losing out at the end of the last two summers with Seattle and the Jets. He was headed toward repairing farm equipment before saving his NFL career over the past several months with the Dolphins.

“I don’t really think about it too much,” he said a couple weeks ago. “I just wake up every day and try to do what I can do to help move the team forward. I don’t think of it as, ‘Oh yes. It’s awesome.’ It’s a great opportunity. I hope I can hold onto it and really help this team out.”

Defensively, the Dolphins must pick a starter at linebacker, defensive tackle and cornerback.

Defensive tackle, meaning the man who will line up next to Ndamukong Suh, has been one of the most contested jobs on the team. Fifth-round pick Davon Godchaux appeared to have it locked down until about a week ago, when incumbent Jordan Phillips made a run. Phillips’ three years with Miami have been marked by inconsistency, but the staff isn’t ready to bail on him yet.

At linebacker, the plan was to go with Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons, plus second rounder Raekwon McMillan when a third was necessary. When McMillan tore his ACL in the preseason opener, Mike Hull stepped into that spot. The Dolphins later added veteran Rey Maualuga, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be physically ready for the Tampa Bay game.

Cornerback was thought to be settled until Byron Maxwell had a frustrating week in Philadelphia and free agent signee Alterraun Verner emerged as a threat to overtake him. It will likely be Maxwell and Xavien Howard on opening day.

Among returning players, the Dolphins cut offensive tackle Sam Young, linebacker Neville Hewitt and defensive end Nick Williams.

Miami decided to stick with two quarterbacks, Jay Cutler and Matt Moore, by cutting backups David Fales and Brandon Doughty. Gase is also content to move forward with a five-man receiver group, keeping his three starters plus Jakeem Grant and Leonte Carroo.

At running back, the Dolphins added Senorise Perry to the mix behind Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake. That choice came down to Perry or Storm Johnson, and it’s a meaningful addition given that Williams is dealing with an unspecified injury.

All of the team’s 2017 draft picks made the roster. Seventh-round pick Isaiah Ford is on Injured Reserve for the year with a knee injury. Five undrafted rookies made the team, including No. 1 punter Matt Haack replacing Matt Darr.

Many of the players Miami cut today are candidates for the 10-man practice squad, which must will be filled by 1 p.m. Sunday. Promising linebacker Deon Lacey was told the team wants him on its practice squad if no one picks him up, a source said, and Doughty is another logical choice for that after spending all last season on the squad.

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The Daily Dolphin Live: Join the Conversation

Join our reporters for a special evening as they talk NFL with Dolphins Pro Bowl Guard Jermon Bushrod, two-time Super Bowl champion Bob Kuechenberg and former Dolphins Pro Bowl linebacker Kim Bokamper on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Bokamper’s Fort Lauderdale. The event is free to the first 100 people and will include raffles, light bites and drinks.

Dolphins’ Jesse Davis finally makes NFL roster, could start opening day

Jesse Davis made it through the final NFL roster cut for the first time in his career. (AP)

If he hadn’t been able to redirect his football career over the past few months, there’s a good chance Jesse Davis would be fixing farm equipment in the Pacific Northwest. Instead, he’s still fighting for a chance to start on the Dolphins’ offensive line.

Davis survived Miami’s roster cut from 89 to 53 today, according to a source, and moves forward with the team as a guard and tackle. That’s a huge breakthrough for him after Seattle cut him late in the 2015 preseason and the Jets did the same last year.

“It’s a great group of people around here,” he said two weeks ago. “This organization is just awesome, and I haven’t been around one like it. It’s just been contagious, infectious. Everybody’s motivated. Everybody’s energy is high, so that’s really nice to be around.”

It’s been nothing but training camps and practice squads for Davis, 26, since going undrafted out of Idaho, but now he’s got a spot. Even more impressive, he’s in consideration to start at left guard against Tampa Bay in Week 1. Miami’s been working Davis and Anthony Steen at that spot after losing Ted Larsen and Kraig Urbik to injuries.

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Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook


The Daily Dolphin Live: Join the Conversation

Join our reporters for a special evening as they talk NFL with Dolphins Pro Bowl Guard Jermon Bushrod, two-time Super Bowl champion Bob Kuechenberg and former Dolphins Pro Bowl linebacker Kim Bokamper on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Bokamper’s Fort Lauderdale. The event is free to the first 100 people and will include raffles, light bites and drinks.

Dolphins practice report: Jay Ajayi out of concussion protocol; Kenyan Drake in

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) talks with Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) during Miami Dolphins minicamp at Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida on June 14, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi is out of the concussion protocol.

Ajayi had been practicing recently, yet his status for Thursday night’s preseason game against Baltimore remains uncertain.

Running back Kenyan Drake, who took a blow in Monday’s practice, is in the concussion protocol, and it’s unlikely he would play Thursday.

Other notes from early Monday:

• Cornerback Tony Lippett (foot) and center Mike Pouncey (hip) did not appear to be working.

• The Dolphins signed wide receiver Trey Griffey, tackle Sean Hickey and wide receiver Rashad Lawrence.

• Miami let go wide receivers Jordan Westerkamp and Francis Owusu and offensive lineman Kwayde Miller.

• Miami had a light practice in its indoor practice facility on Tuesday.

• The Dolphins starting offensive line at practice was Laremy Tunsil-Anthony Steen-Jake Brendel-Jermon Bushrod-Sam Young.

More to come later in the day.

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2017 NFL Free Agents: Who are the best centers available?

Can the Dolphins count on 16 starts from Mike Pouncey this year? (Getty Images)
Can the Dolphins count on 16 starts from Mike Pouncey this year? (Getty Images)

The Dolphins thought they were set for a while at center when they made Mike Pouncey the No. 15 overall pick in 2011, but his recent hip trouble might rattle that confidence.

Last year, with Pouncey playing just five games, Miami tried Anthony Steen and Kraig Urbik in his place. Although Pouncey says he feels great, there’s no guarantee he’ll stay healthy, and it would be prudent for the Dolphins to consider contingencies.

Here’s a look at their center situation and some of the top options in free agency:
Continue reading “2017 NFL Free Agents: Who are the best centers available?”

Miami Dolphins inactives: No Byron Maxwell, some lineup changes

Dolphins starting cornerback Byron Maxwell is out today. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)
Dolphins starting cornerback Byron Maxwell is out today. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.–The Dolphins will go without No. 1 cornerback Byron Maxwell this afternoon, leaving Xavien Howard and Tony Lippett in charge of containing Buffalo’s receivers.

Maxwell is out because of an ankle injury he suffered last weekend. Here are Miami’s inactives:
Continue reading “Miami Dolphins inactives: No Byron Maxwell, some lineup changes”