#1. Health and reps for Mike Gesicki and Jaelan Phillips
There are NFL teams out there dealing with injury and illness issues far more than the Dolphins are, but Miami has some players who have had health issues early on in training camp.
One of the most important off season acquisitions for the Dolphins was their selection of Jaelan Phillips in the middle of the first round of the draft. Phillips was widely considered the best pass rusher in the Class of 2021, but his injury concerns forced him in to a fall down the big board and eventually in to Miami’s lap at pick number 18. Unfortunately for the rookie, he suffered a left leg injury near the beginning of his first training camp, and has only recently returned to the practice field. Given his history of health concerns, the team is likely acting under an abundance of caution when bringing Phillips back on to the field.
Another offensive weapon that has missed a big chunk of training camp is Mike Gesicki, who was placed on the COVID-19 list on August 1st. He has since returned and has been made active, but he will have plenty of catching up to do, both in the playbook and physically. Tagovailoa has been performing well even in the absence of Gesicki, but it will be important for the duo to further their chemistry, as the tight end will likely play a big role in the Dolphins’ offense this coming season.
Saturday’s game against the Bears will likely be a toss-up for both players. It is likely that Phillips hasn’t gotten enough practice reps for the coaching staff to be comfortable enough to play him in a live-action contest, but Gesicki should be a go, barring any unforeseen issues. The starters will likely play only a series or two, but look for Tagovailoa to target Gesicki and try to build on their connection.