AFC Notes: Sauce Gardner, Tyreek Hill, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots


  • Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel said he “feels good” about WR Tyreek Hill (ankle) playing in Week 16 against the Cowboys after not having any setbacks this week, via Cameron Wolfe. 
  • McDaniel said CB Xavien Howard had “encouraging practices” this week and had no setbacks: “Xavien yesterday had some encouraging practices and didn’t have a step back,” per Barry Jackson. 
  • Dolphins CB Jalen Ramsey said he doesn’t plan on shadowing Cowboys WR Ceedee Lamb throughout Sunday’s game: “I don’t think that’s the game plan. I don’t think that’s my role in this defense.” (Wolfe


Jets CB Sauce Gardner told reporters that coaching has not been one of the team’s setbacks this season.

“I don’t think we are where we are right now because of coaching,” Gardner said, via Brian Costello of the New York Post. “I’m a young player. It could be easy for me to say, ‘Yeah, it’s all on the coaching.’ But when I really thought about everything, it’s really like, bro, we’ve just been unfortunate. Injuries, penalties, so many things that could be avoided. It is what it is.”

  • The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt lists backup quarterback as the top need for the Jets in 2024, and his top candidate is Titans QB Ryan Tannehill. New York employs a few of Tannehill’s former coaches on the offensive staff and he was rumored to be their backup plan if they didn’t land QB Aaron Rodgers this past season. 
  • Some other strong candidates include Commanders QB Jacoby Brissett or Giants QB Tyrod Taylor, per Rosenblatt.
  • Outside of that, Rosenblatt notes the Jets will likely need two new starting tackles with LT Mekhi Becton expected to depart in free agency and veteran OT Duane Brown not likely to be back. He expects the Jets to strongly consider using their first-round pick on a new left tackle, plus prioritize upgrading both backup spots. 
  • Rosenblatt notes the Jets can’t get out of WR Allen Lazard‘s deal next season but they need to upgrade so he’s third or fourth on the depth chart. He expects them to go after Raiders WR Davante Adams in a trade but notes it will be complicated because they don’t have a second-round pick in 2024. 


According to NBC Sports’ Phil Perry, there were multiple coaches as well as player personnel that wanted rookie QB Malik Cunningham to play.

I think when you think about just how much support there was for him, and all we heard about Malik Cunningham after the fact, I do think there was real, genuine love for the guy’s skill set here,” Perry said, via Patriots Wire. “Based on, basically, what they saw from him in practice. I will tell you this: I heard from coaches after the Saints game. So, two blowouts in a row, bad quarterback play. And I had coaches say to me, ‘We might as well try Malik at this point. What do we have to lose?’ And so, that may have been reflective of a greater portion of the locker room than maybe I was willing to give credit to at the time. So I think there was a real, genuine liking of the guy’s skill set, especially based on where the modern game is going, what he was able to do on the fields here behind Gillette Stadium.

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