AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Jets, Patriots



Earlier this week, Dolphins HC Brian Flores called the quarterback position “settled,” seemingly indicating Miami would ride with QB Josh Rosen for the rest of the season as they evaluated his long-term viability. That lasted about three quarters, as Flores went back to veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Redskins

“Josh has done a good job. Today, he wasn’t having a good day. We’re always going to do what we feel is best for the team. Today that was Fitz going into the fourth quarter,” Flores said via ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe. “Josh is the starter. But as we continue to move along, there’s always competition. Everyone needs to feel that. I need to feel that. The players need to feel that. Fitz was ready to go today. I think he played well.”

  • On Monday, Flores added that playing Rosen this year in order to evaluate him as a potential long-term option is not part of his decision-making progress: “I wouldn’t say that’s part of the thought process. Right now, it’s one game at a time. … Right now, we have a pretty good evaluation of him.” (Adam Beasley)
  • Flores seemed to suggest Rosen would start next week but that the same scenario as Sunday could replicate itself with Fitzpatrick coming back in: “I thought Fitz played really well when he went in there. I anticipate Josh being the guy but we’re going to do what’s best for the team. We’ll see how this goes in practice.” (Beasley)


Before Sunday’s game, several Jets players cautioned that the return of QB Sam Darnold from mono wouldn’t magically fix every problem for a team that was 0-4. After a 24-22 win against the Cowboys, however, it appears that Darnold’s return cured a lot of ills. Darnold completed 23 of 32 passes for 338 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the stunning upset win. 

“It’s a lot different having your guy in there,” Jets RB Le’Veon Bell said via Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News. “He’s the leader of the offense…. When you miss that for a few weeks, it’s tough…. I said he wasn’t rusty in practice. I watched him. He’s a special player.”

Darnold said that not only was he dealing with mono, he also had a case of strep throat that made it difficult to do what he needed to do to avoid losing too much weight from the mono. 

“The tricky part about it is I had mono and strep throat at the same time,” Darnold said via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “I had to get over the strep and the mono over four or five days. So I really couldn’t eat much. I was trying to force down protein shakes as much as I could. And throughout those three or four days where I had to do that, my throat was basically closed. So I was forcing down those protein shakes and having a lot of people calling me, texting me, making sure I was doing that even though I didn’t feel like it.”

  • When asked if Jets DL Leonard Williams would be available to teams interested in a trade, HC Adam Gase dodged the question somewhat: “I really don’t deal in the hypothetical aspects. These guys get calls all year round about trades. Really to me that’s not something I’m going to be dealing with unless something’s on the table.” (Ralph Vacchiano)
  • Gase says the Jets are hopeful LB C.J. Mosley will return to practice this week. (Connor Hughes)
  • Jets OT Kelvin Beachum is week-to-week with an ankle sprain, while DT Steve McLendon and LB Neville Hewitt are day-to-day with a hamstring injury and stinger respectively. (Hughes)
  • Jets TE Chris Herndon (hamstring) is progressing well and Gase says he could even practice this week as a return looks like it will be “sooner rather than later.” 


Speculation over a potential return to the Patriots by Rob Gronkowski started the second the tight end made his retirement announcement. But it got another boost this week when Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he wasn’t giving up hope. Many have wondered if Gronkowski would return if Patriots QB Tom Brady asked him to come back and provide a spark to New England’s receiving corps. Brady shut down any notion of talking Gronkowski back into football, however. 

“Look, I love that guy. I am so happy that he’s enjoying his time. I am happy that he’s enjoying his life.” Brady said in a radio interview with WEEI. “He seems to really be doing a lot of great things. He knows how I feel about him. I want what is best for him. He’s the only person that can make those decisions. I don’t lobby for those things. I have a great relationship with him. He has given actually a hell of a lot to our team already over the course of a long period of time, and I think people should be very appreciative for what he’s brought to the team and what he’s brought to the region. I think he’s a very special guy. He’s just in a different phase of his life.”

  • Per NESN’s Zack Cox, Patriots HC Bill Belichick said he the goal is for first-round rookie WR N’Keal Harry to return to practice this week as he comes off injured reserve: “If he’s ready, yes. … We hope he’ll be ready to go.”
  • Harry’s rookie season has been put on hold since the preseason with an ankle injury and the Patriots are hoping his return can boost their thin pass-catching corps: “Mentally, he’s been able to keep up with everything. It’s just physically, he needs to be able to show that he can go out there and participate competitively at the practice level we’re at.”
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