One day after the news that Ryan Fitzpatrick would miss the Miami Dolphins' Week 17 game against the Buffalo Bills because of a positive COVID-19 test, the team conducted its final practice of the regular season.
It was a positive sign that Fitzpatrick was an isolated case.
For head coach Brian Flores, this was just another obstacle to handle in a season filled with having to make adjustments on the fly.
"I’m disappointed for him more than anything," Flores said. "I know how important this team is to him. But at the same time, we’ve dealt with adversity throughout the season, whether it’s COVID, whether it’s injury ...we’ve had guys out in multiple games and recently. So we’ll just push forward and give our best effort on Sunday.”
Flores later praised head athletic trainer Kyle Johnston and the team's medical staff for their handling of the COVID-19 situation.
"They’ve done a tremendous job," Flores said. "(Johnston is) all over everyone about masks and distancing. We’ve taken every precaution, we’ve followed the protocols as far as close contacts and we’re in good shape from that standpoint. I think just overall throughout this entire year, with the different changes from the protocol, to going into intensive protocols for the entire league — everything we do from bus rides, plane rides, meeting spaces, how we meet, how we can’t meet. There are a lot of things that we’re used to that we haven’t been able to do this particular season, and a lot of that is from the direction of the league and Kyle Johnston, honestly.
"I think Kyle has done a great job with what a lot of what we’ve done from a protocol standpoint. It’s ongoing. Every night it’s ongoing. We’ll hopefully continue to do as best we can. Like we’ve said all year, you can do everything right but it’s airborne, so it’s nobody’s fault and guys can still get it, which they have. Hopefully we’ve done everything we can and I think Kyle has spearheaded that.”
JACKSON READY FOR THE RIGHT (IF NEEDED)
Rookie tackle Austin Jackson reaffirmed Friday that he's played right tackle before, doing so as a freshman at USC, and that he can play anywhere on the offensive line.
This, of course, will be something to remember once the 2021 NFL draft approaches in the event the Dolphins decide to target Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell, generally considered the best offensive line prospect available next spring.
The Dolphins certainly could entertain taking Sewell, moving Jackson from left to right tackle and shifting Robert Hunt inside from right tackle to guard.
FROM THE OTHER SIDE
While we still don't know whether the Bills will use all of their front-line players against the Dolphins on Sunday, they'll have one more offensive threat at their disposal if they choose to use him.
That would be wide receiver John Brown, who was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, four days after being activated from injured reserve.
Brown, who has not played since Week 10, has four touchdowns in three games against the Dolphins while a member of the Bills.
The Bills also made some moves involving their practice squad Friday and they ended up releasing two former Dolphins players, linebacker Deon Lacey and cornerback Lafayette Pitts.
FORMER DOLPHINS NOTES
-- Wide receiver Kenny Stills visited with the Bills and the expectation is that he'll be signing with them.
-- Long-snapper John Denney hasn't played in the NFL since the Dolphins released him before the start of the 2019 regular season, but he had a tryout with the New Orleans Saints. Denney snapped for the Dolphins from 2005-18 and his 224 games represents the second-highest total in Dolphins history.
-- Top quarterback prospect Zach Wilson announced Friday he was going to declare early for the 2021 NFL draft and thanks several people who helped him on his road to the NFL. One of those was John Beck, a quarterback coach who Dolphins fans might remember as a Dolphins second-round pick in the 2007 draft.
ON THIS DATE ON DOLPHINS HISTORY
2012 — The Dolphins close out the regular season with a 19-17 victory against the New York Jets in the last game of Jason Taylor's Hall of Fame career.
2017 — The Dolphins drop a 35-14 decision against the New England Patriots in the 2016 regular season finale, though they already had clinched a playoff berth the previous weekend.
Rookie tackle Austin Jackson: “My relationship with Coach Flores, it’s good. It’s good. When he’s not talking to you, it’s good, because that means you’re not messing up. (laughter) He doesn’t talk to me too much, so that’s a good thing. (laughter)”