Dolphins must be mindful to attack Patriots replacements in Week 1

by 24USATVSept. 10, 2021, 1 p.m. 19
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The New England Patriots suddenly find themselves in the same shoes as the Miami Dolphins were in at this point last year — a losing record the year before has spurred the team into a mega-million dollar spending spree in free agency; with the hope being that all of those new pieces on the roster can help bolster the team’s success in the here and now. It worked for the Dolphins last year. And New England certainly seems to have the belief and support of pundits across the country here and now.

But for Week 1 specifically, the Miami Dolphins are going to have a prime opportunity to attack New England in the one area that you can’t spend to defend against:

The Patriots have had some tough breaks early on from a health and durability perspective. And as the Dolphins gear up for Week 1 with their eyes on the status of OT Austin Jackson and TE Adam Shaheen (COVID-19), the rest of the roster is relatively healthy and ready to rumble.

But in New England, the Patriots will start the year with LB Raekwon McMillan, LB Anfernee Jennings and WR N’Keal Harry on injured reserve. Defensive lineman Byron Cowart will open the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list. So will former All-Pro and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year CB Stephon Gilmore.

The Patriots will certainly miss their services to varying degrees, but even the injury report in New England has cause for concern. No. 1 wide receiver Nelson Agholor did not practice on Thursday due to an ankle injury after being limited on Wednesday. Same for defensive back Jalen Mills — who is expected to help try to replace Gilmore on Sunday for the Patriots.

The Dolphins are surely taking inventory here — but come game day they need to be able to identify opportunities to attack their replacements in the game as they arise. Doing so could serve as a catalyst for explosive plays; which is one of Miami’s big tickets to winning this football game against the Pats.

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