By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Contrary to popular belief, the Miami Dolphins are, in fact, a professional football team. They have a roster with 53 players on it, all of which are paid to play professional football.
If we're all being honest, we know the odds are long for Brian Flores to become the latest ex-Patriots coach to get the better of Bill Belichick with his new team. But their pure personnel suggests that they don't have nearly enough to keep up with Tom Brady and the Patriots for 60 minutes. Weird stuff tends to happen down in Miami, but a win this time would be especially wild.
That being said, there are still some professional football players on the Dolphins that are worth getting to know before they face the Patriots. Some of them may be able to give the Pats problems, others may not. But they will all collect paychecks for being professional athletes, so there's that.
S Minkah Fitzpatrick
This is an interesting one, because Fitzpatrick's usage raised eyebrows after Flores' embarrassing debut as Dolphins head coach. The 2018 first-round pick played only 63 percent of defensive snaps in the Dolphins' 59-10 loss to the Ravens, after playing 86.9 percent over the 2018 regular season. Flores apparently sees Fizpatrick as a player he can use all over the field and change his role from week-to-week, which certainly sounds very Patriot-like.
But is Fitzpatrick ready for that kind of role? And does Flores really have the acumen to try and pull a Belichick with this kid so early on?
"Just trying to do my job," said Fitzpatrick in a severely, extremely Patriot-like response (via the Miami Herald).
So we'll see how Flores deploys Fitzpatrick this time. He didn't fare particularly well against the Ravens, most notably getting absolutely toasted by Marquise Brown on the rookie's second touchdown. My guess is he plays around the line of scrimmage, covering Josh Gordon in the short areas and keying on Sony Michel in the run game.
WR Preston Williams
The Dolphins also added veteran wideout Allen Hurns, and they still have Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant from last season. But Williams, an undrafted rookie out of Colorado State, has a chance to be one of the team's hidden gems. He's huge at 6-foot-5 and showed impressive body control when he caught the ball, keeping his toes in bounds for a sideline catch and then a touchdown in the back of the end zone.
He did, however, run the wrong play on his first target of the game. He also dropped what would've been a 36-yard touchdown after safety Tony Jefferson jarred the ball loose and it popped out as he hit the ground. Contesting the ball through the whistle will be important against Williams. It'll be interesting to see if this is the first assignment for rookie Joejuan Williams, who can match that size.
DL Christian Wilkins
The 13th overall pick out of Clemson, Wilkins is tremendously talented and has big-time upside as an interior disrupter. It's unlikely he totally wrecks Tom Brady's day, but he's the guy to focus on up front. Belichick described Wilkins as "an outstanding player" in his opening remarks Wednesday, so you can expect more of the double-teams that he saw a lot of against the Ravens. This will be an important assignment for center Ted Karras, and guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason.
CB Eric Rowe
You may remember the former Patriot for his coverage against Julio Jones in Super Bowl LI. Rowe was about as awful as one can imagine on Sunday against the Ravens, though. He got beat badly by a pair of rookies: first, Marquise Brown broke his tackle and burned him for a 47-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Later in the game, Miles Boykin juked him to get wide open in the end zone. It would not be shocking if the Patriots picked on their former teammate.
More Patriots-Dolphins coverage coming Friday through postgame Sunday. It is a professional football game, after all.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].