The behind-the-scenes factor that has helped Dolphins. And injury, practice update

Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

Besides the injection of talent, the coaching and the improvement from within (starting with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa), here’s something else that has helped this Dolphins team:

There haven’t been any malcontents.

When his playing time and targets fell well short of what was expected over the first two months of the season, receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. didn’t pout.

When his targets dropped significantly early in the season, tight end Mike Gesicki didn’t fret.

When he was a healthy scratch against Detroit, safett Eric Rowe didn’t lash out.

When he saw a practice squad receiver play ahead of him, receiver Erik Ezukanma didn’t go off.

And when he saw his role transition from 2021 starter to frequent healthy scratch in 2022, running back Myles Gaskin didn’t throw a fit.

The Dolphins’ mature locker room has been an asset during this 7-3 start, a factor that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Start with Gesicki, who has consistently said this season is “not about me” whether he’s being targeted a half dozen times a game or not at all.

“I think it says a lot about him the way he’s handled the situation — really putting the team first in a year it means a lot to him personally,” tight end Durham Smythe said.

Heading into free agency next March, Gesicki (24 catches, 269 yards) is on pace to fall well short of last year’s numbers (73, 780), though his four touchdowns are twice as many as he had last year.

But Gesicki is still finding joy, and accepting whatever is asked of him in an offense dominated by star receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

“When you’re winning, it’s fun to be a part of a team that has been through some stuff the last couple years, this organization where it hasn’t gone our way in terms of winning games,” Gesicki said.

Even with the attention that Hill and Waddle draw, Gesicki said he’s being covered no differently than past years: “I haven’t seen anything different yet where I’m getting their worst cover guy or anything like that. Maybe if they keep making plays, it will help me out.”

When Rowe was a healthy scratch — and replaced by rookie Verone McKinley III — against Detroit in Miami’s first game against losing Brandon Jones for the season, Rowe tweeted: “I’m just as shocked too.”

But that was the extent of Rowe’s response. He calmly handled the discussion with defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, who told him before the game that the decision was based on special teams.

“After that, I left it alone,” Rowe said. “After he explained it, I got prepared for Chicago and was ready to play.”

Rowe went back to work and was back in the lineup for the next two games.

“Of course I was surprised [not playing against Detroit], but the NFL is a business,” he said. “Nothing is guaranteed. Once I got to the start of the next week, I thought I’ve got to take advantage of my opportunities.

“I know you have to prove yourself each year. Past year and a half, I’ve kind of been sidelined [playing less than earlier in his Dolphins tenure]. When I’m out there, show them, ‘Hey, I can still play. Nothing has changed.’”

Wilson has handled himself professionally despite losing the battle for the No. 3 receiver job to Trent Sherfield — one of the personnel surprises of the season considering Wilson’s contract (three years, $21 million) and breakout season for Dallas last season. Wilson said he never considered asking for a trade.

“Cedrick has been awesome,” receivers coach Wes Welker said. “He’s handled everything like a pro and just gone out and practiced and done what he needed to do. There’s going to be multiple times this year going forward where we’re going to need Ced to make plays for us. He’s been a pro about it … I think at this point, Trent has just played really, really well and he’s been on top of all of his assignments.”

As for Ezukanma, he said he’s being patient despite being inactive every game this season, a byproduct of the team believing it has a better chance to win with the veterans who are playing.

He said he didn’t get mad “at all” when practice squad receiver Braylon Sanders played ahead of him in River Cracraft’s absence against Detroit, a decision made because Sanders has more experience at Cracraft’s X receiver position.

“Braylon is one of my best friends on the team,” Ezukanma said. “He’s liked in the locker room. He would have played against Chicago, too, if he hadn’t been injured. I’m patient. I’ll seize the opportunity when it comes.”

THIS AND THAT

Running back Raheem Mostert was in the locker room but not spotted at Wednesday’s practice. Neither was edge rusher Melvin Ingram, who often gets Wednesday as a veteran’s rest day.

Left tackle Terron Armstead and linebacker Jerome Baker were back at practice after missing Monday’s session.

Cornerback Xavien Howard and Sherfield were back at practice Wednesday after working on the side Monday. “I feel confident there’s a great chance they will be able to help us this Sunday,” McDaniel said.

Cornerback Keion Crossen, dealing with a shoulder injury, also was at practice.

Three Dolphins coaches this week have been noncommittal about whether offensive lineman Austin Jackson will be injected back in the lineup. Jackson hasn’t played since sustaining an ankle injury in the opener against New England.

Brandon Shell has played well in five starts at right tackle in Jackson’s absence. Jackson can also play left guard, but Robert Jones has played well there in two games since Liam Eichenberg’s injury.

The Dolphins will face a new Houston Texans quarterback on Sunday.

Per NFL Network, Houston is benching Davis Mills and starting Kyle Allen, who has 24 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and an 84.9 passer rating in 21 NFL games, and 17 starts, for Carolina and Washington.