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The Phinsider Mailbag: You ask, we answer - Week 13, 2016

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You asked us questions on Twitter. We answered.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

A little while ago, I posted on Twitter that I was bored and were there any Miami Dolphins questions out there people wanted answered. Questions quickly started coming in, and, rather than answer them straight on Twitter, I thought I would collect them and quickly answer them here - since I assume more than one person is wondering the same thing as some of these questions.

It’s an unexpected return of The Phinsider Mailbag:

Odds of DeVante Parker play versus Ravens

The Dolphins will face the Baltimore Ravens in a Week 13 showdown that could be critical to the Playoff hopes for both teams. Miami could be doing it without one of their top receivers, DeVante Parker, who sustained a back injury last week against the San Francisco 49ers.

The team is hopeful he can play and listed him as questionable on the injury report for the game, but there is still a question mark. The Dolphins promoted Rashawn Scott off the practice roster as a depth option if Parker is unable to play - and that is usually a bad sign. Last week, Parker described the injury as “nothing” and the team downplayed the severity all week. The fact that he did not practice all week is not a good sign, however.

I would probably guess that he does not play on Sunday, and Miami is heading into this game with Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, and Leonte Carroo as the top receivers, as well as Dion Sims from the tight end position. Since Steve’s question asked for odds, I will say a 33 percent that he plays.

Jakeem Grant - punt returner

Rookie wide receiver Jakeem Grant has been primarily used a return man this year, both kickoff and punt. He has done fairly well with both, but has developed a habit of dropping punts. He never worked as a punt returner in college, so this is his first time doing it in game situations, and he is struggling at times.

That said, the team is behind him and know that, if he can field it cleanly, he has a chance of using his blinding speed to break a return. Devin Hester had punt-return issues his rookie season as well. The Dolphins are going to keep sending Grant out there and giving him a chance to get better at fielding the punt.

That does not mean we will not see more of Jarvis Landry, however, which basically means Chuck’s question is correct on both sides of the question. My guess is, we see the team move back toward how the punt return duties were broken up earlier in the year, where Landry returned punts likely to be fielded deep in Miami territory, knowing Landry has the more sure hands.

Landry not getting the ball

Mark asks a popular question the last couple of weeks, where Jarvis Landry is not picking up his normal 7-10+ catches a game. Landry’s receptions this year have been 7, 10, 7, 7, 3, 7, 5, 3, 6, 5, and 4. It is clearly a trend down for a guy who, at one point, was leading the league in receptions (he is currently tied for 10th).

I think there are several factors in why Landry is seeing some of his numbers go down this year, and they are all actually good things for the Dolphins. The first is the commitment to the run. Jay Ajayi has proven he can be an option for the offense, and head coach Adam Gase is using that option. That takes away the pass-instead-of-run option that Landry was last year. You also have the emergence of DeVante Parker, as well as Kenny Stills and Dion Sims becoming bigger options. The Dolphins are spreading the ball around more in recent weeks, which means Landry is not getting as many targets.

Defenses are also focusing more on Landry, with double teams covering him more often than any of the other players, and that makes it harder to get the ball to Landry.

If Parker cannot go this week, do not be surprised if Landry’s targets and catches go back up.

And, just to point this out, Landry is on pace for 93 receptions this year, which would be the most receptions in team history in a season other than Landry’s 110 receptions season last year.

Mike Pouncey’s injury

Stromberg comes in with a question that I have been having myself. There are people out there that think the Dolphins need to move on from Mike Pouncey, the Pro Bowl center who has a history of injuries, especially to his hips, after the season. I think those ideas are not likely to come to fruition. Yes, Pouncey has been oft-injured, but when he is on the field, the team clearly works better - especially in the running game where Pouncey’s athleticism gets him to the second- and third-levels.

As for this year, I honestly do not know. I have not heard anything about the results of Pouncey’s reported visit to a specialist to try to find the root cause of the repeated hip injuries, and there has not been a lot of talk about exactly what the team is expecting from him the remainder of the year. If I had to guess, I would say he does play again because the team has not placed him on Injured Reserve, but that is purely a guess.

And, the team could be looking at the possibility that he misses the rest of the regular season, but might be available for the postseason? It is all speculation when it comes to what is wrong with, or when a return might happen for, Pouncey.

Fantasy Draft

Good question. Last year, I took a lot of flak for saying I would rather have Jarvis Landry than Odell Beckham, Jr., but at the time, I thought it was the best move because Joe Philbin’s offense clearly worked through the slot receiver, and Landry was the perfect compliment for that philosophy. Reading this question, OBJ was the first answer that came to mind, but, thinking it through more, I think I would look somewhere else.

The Dolphins have some needs that have to be answered this offseason. Cornerback, linebacker, and younger (developmental) defensive tackles/ends are all on the list of needs. However, right now, I probably look at a tight end as someone who can be the pure-pass catcher/compliment to Sims. Rob Gronkowski is the easy, and obvious, answer, but given his current, and career-long, injury issues, I might look somewhere else.

I am going to go with Travis Kelce as a player to plug into this offense right now, and probably give it an additional spark.

Dolphins in the Pro Bowl

Bucky comes in with a question that can be answered in a couple of ways. Should I answer with aqua-tinted glasses to make sure as many Dolphins as possible get into the all-star game, or should I stick with “Pro Bowl” caliber players?

Let’s see. Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, Jarvis Landry, Branden Albert, and Mike Pouncey are all getting my nod as players who should be there. Fringe players are probably Jay Ajayi, Kiko Alonso, Ryan Tannehill, Laremy Tunsil, and Michael Thomas.

Add Reshad Jones as someone who would have made it if he had not been injured, and the Dolphins do have a ton of talent.

I think, realistically, six Dolphins could make it, with one from the “should be there” category not making it and a surprise landing in the group (Matt Darr?).

“In”

I don’t know how to rate how “in” I am, Josh. Do I talk to people? Yes. Am I as “in” as someone like Adam Beasley, Armando Salguero, Omar Kelly, Chris Perkins, or even Jeff Darlington? No. A big part of that is I do not live in Miami, so I cannot expand my contacts as easily as people who are there every day.

Raiders

I laughed when I read this question from Julian, not because it was a bad question, but because I have no idea. I keep expecting them to fall back to Earth, and they keep on chugging along. I guess, at 9-2, they have to be considered “for real,” but after so long of assuming the Raiders are a bade team, it seems very strange to even consider that possibility.

I guess that is kind of how people feel looking at the Dolphins’ six-game winning streak.

Changes if Parker cannot play

Another good question. Sims played every snap of the game last week, and I would not be surprised if he does that again this week. That means the question becomes, do the Dolphins play Carroo more, or MarQueis Gray/Dominique Jones more. My guess would be we see Gray the most of that trio, with Carroo second. I would also not be surprised if we see more plays where Damien Williams or Kenyan Drake line up out wide as a pass catcher. There is also the possibility that Miami opens up the playbook to Jakeem Grant plays.

I think two tight ends make the most sense, but I think Carroo would probably see a decent amount of snaps.

Uniform Colors

You know, Angel, I actually have not hear or thought to ask for this week. My guess would be all white, because the Ravens typically wear black or purple at home. I guess white jersey and aqua pants is a possibility as well.

It is going to be in the mid-40s tomorrow in Baltimore, so there is no issue with the heat and dark jerseys - not that Miami has a dark jersey either way. I would guess all-white, with plenty of long sleeves and gloves out there.