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Dolphins RB Drake injured- battle for playing time heats up

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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A foot  injury to starter Kenyan Drake has now made the Dolphins battle at running back in this 2019 training camp even more intriguing.

The first sign of concern was when Drake left the Tuesday’s workout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers limping off the field slightly. And then, for Wednesday’s workout Drake was in a walking boot and not participating at all.

At the conclusion of the Wednesday second joint practice with Tampa Bay, new Dolphins coach Brian Flores didn’t offer a lot, but did say Drake was “on track for week one.”

It is believed that he will now, not only be held out of Friday night’s preseason game against the Bucs, but probably until the Dolphins season opener with the Baltimore Ravens on September 8th.

We have written previously about the battle Drake is in with second-year running back Kalen Ballage, whom they drafted and fellow second-year running back Mark Walton, whom the Dolphins picked up off of waivers from the Cincinnati Bengals after multiple off field arrests in the last two years.

Ballage was a mid-round pick from Arizona State a year ago, appearing in 12 games, but carrying the ball only 36 times. He had one explosive 75-yard touchdown run late in the year against Minnesota, but not much else to speak of for his rookie year.

Ballage carried 6 times for 23 yards with a second quarter TD against the Falcons at Hard Rock Stadium last Thursday night. Walton also had 6 carries for just 12 yards and a score, as well. However, Miami also has to know that a possible league discipline suspension for the beginning of 2019 has to be looming for the former Miami Hurricanes star, as he has had multiple arrests in the last 18 months.

The Fins also have rookie Myles Gaskin from the University of Washington, who had almost an identical stat line to Walton last Thursday of six attempts, 13 yards and a short TD score, also.

Back to Drake. He is a versatile back, especially with his pass catching skills, that new offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea has to be counting on. Drake had a career high 53 catches with a 9.0 avg and 5 receiving TDs last season and the Dolphins will need to use one or of more of their backs as short pass weapons, when things begin for real in a few weeks.

Miami Dolphins

“Mountaineer Shot” earns Dolphins K Sanders AFC honors

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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One of the great trick plays, not just of this NFL season but in recent pro football memory, has earned the Dolphins kicker who caught a touchdown pass Sunday AFC weekly honors.

The league announced Wednesday that kicker Jason Sanders, who became the first place-kicker to catch a touchdown pass in 42 years, is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week:

Sanders also made his only field-goal attempt, as well as two extra points, earned the weekly honor for Miami’s 37 – 31 upset of the Eagles.

However, it is the play that is known as “Mountaineer Shot” that Sanders will forever be remembered for not just in Dolphin history, but NFL.

We wrote about the play on Monday, as head coach Brian Flores and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman implemented the direct snap to punter Matt Haack, while players were spread wide on either side of the formation.

Haack then, took the snap, rolled left and when the Eagles rushed at him, he flipped the ball to Sanders for the touchdown. The play is named for the center, Kilgore, because he played at Appalachian State, whose nickname is the Mountaineers. And, it’s something that Dolphins had been practicing regularly on and off for the past two months.

Furher, as for the historical aspects of the play, Sanders became the first kicker to catch a touchdown pass in an NFL game since Baltimore’s Jim Turner did it in a game in 1977.

It is also the first time since the AFL – NFL merger in 1970 that a punter has completed a touchdown pass to a kicker and the play will live on for years and years to come.

It is the second time that Sanders has won the AFC special teams player of the week award this season. He also got the honor for his two clultch 48 yard field goals in the fourth quarter of the Dolphins 16-12 upset of the Indianapolis Colts in November.

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Dolphins fans still buzzing over “Mountaineer Shot” trick play

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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Move over, “Miami Miracle,” we now have a rival Dolphins trick play that will be talked about forever by fans and observers.

While it wasn’t the crazy lateral clinching play that Miami scored on with no time left to defeat the Patriots last December, “Mountaineer Shot,” as it’s known, is one of the wildest gadget plays to ever score a TD in the NFL. That’s because it involved the punter throwing to the kicker for a touchdown on a fake field goal.

It was the second quarter with the Dolphins trailing the Eagles 13 – 7, when Miami elected to kick a field goal (or so we thought) from Philadelphia’s 1-yard line.

That’s when dolphin punter Matt Haack lined up behind Center Daniel Kilgore with Miami spreading players to the right and the left. Then, what happened next was comical special teams touchdown, maybe in NFL history:

Haack’s first ever NFL completion was a forward option pitch to the kicker, Jason Sanders. And for good measure, it was Sanders first reception in his entire football career (dating back to high school) with the play stunning the Eagles and helping Miami pull off a 37 – 31 upset win.

Here was more on the play from David Wilson of the Miami Herald, including how long coach Brian Flores, special teams coach Danny Crossman and the players had been waiting to pull it out of the bag of tricks:

“We felt like that was a good time to run it,” coach Brian Flores said, and it gave us a spark….

“It was one of those plays Miami had been waiting weeks for the chance to run. Tight end Mike Gesicki said the Dolphins started working on it about two months ago and have been waiting weeks for the right opportunity to arise. Sunday finally presented such an opportunity….

“The gutsy call was just the latest in a line of gutsy calls by special teams coordinator Danny Crossman. In an October loss to the Buffalo Bills, Haack ran for a first down on a fake punt attempt. Last month, the Dolphins successfully executed a surprise onside kick in another loss to the Bills….

“The gutsy call was Crossman distilled to his mad-scientist essence.

“Danny Crossman is crazy. Like what is he dreaming up? This is the NFL,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “Like, that’s not—that doesn’t happen.”

Of course there is further irony that the Eagles famously ran their “Philly Special” play, which was an option pass to then-quarterback Nick Foles, for a touchdown in their upset of the Patriots in Super Bowl 52.

So, teams have constantly been looking to get the Eagles on trick plays themselves.

This would include the Patriots having run a double pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman, who threw a touchdown against them in New England’s 17-10 victory couple of weeks ago at Philly.

Back to “Mountaineer Shot” on Sunday. The play is named for the center, Kilgore, because he played at Appalachian State, whose nickname is the Mountaineers.

And as for the historical aspects of the play, Sanders became the first kicker to catch a touchdown pass in an NFL game since Baltimore’s Jim Turner did it in a game in 1977.

And, it is the first time since the AFL – NFL merger in 1970 that our punter has thrown a touchdown pass to the kicker.

Oh, and the Fins have suddenly come to life with three wins in four games after and 0-7 start. And, it’s in part because the team is still playing hard for a coach and coaching staff that’s willing to take wild risks they did with “Mountaineer Shot,” Sunday.

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