Dolphins lose two more key defensive players to injuries; how to watch playoff game at Chiefs

MIAMI GARDENS — Add inside linebacker Jerome Baker back onto the growing list of Miami Dolphins injury concerns ahead of their playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Baker, in his first game back from a four-game absence due to a knee injury, hurt his wrist Sunday night in the 21-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He is out for the Dolphins’ trip to Arrowhead Stadium for Saturday’s game, according to coach Mike McDaniel on Monday.

Not only that. The foot injury that outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel left the Bills game with also has him out.

Both appear likely to miss the entire postseason, no matter how deep the Dolphins go. Baker has already had surgery, and Van Ginkel has a timetable that is to be determined as far as his treatment.

With Van Ginkel now out of the picture for a Dolphins defense that already is missing Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb for the rest of the season, consideration was going to be given to using Baker on the edge before the team learned of his wrist ailment.

Outside linebacker Cameron Goode, another option for snaps on the edge in the postseason, tore his patella on the special teams touchdown the Dolphins surrendered early in the fourth quarter that turned momentum in favor of Buffalo.

He is also now out for the playoffs.

“The team hurts for the individual players, just because you invest in your teammates’ story, know where they’re at and the opportunity that they have,” McDaniel said. “I think that we’ve learned the hard way that we have capable players across the board, and the team doesn’t use that as an excuse. But very heavy hearts for the individuals.

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“There’s definitely nobody in the locker room or on the other side of the ball that’s blinking,” said McDaniel Sunday night of the attrition on the edge. “I don’t think people use that as an excuse toward their confidence. There are just different things you can feature. So it’ll be a challenge, but that is what the National Football League is. It’s a challenge.”

Van Ginkel went straight to the locker room instead of the injury tent on the sideline upon suffering the ailment Sunday. Originally deemed questionable to return, he was ruled out by the team shortly thereafter. Baker’s new injury wasn’t known until Monday. Goode lied on the field for several minutes before he was carted off Sunday with his knee ailment. McDaniel already said his injury didn’t look promising when he spoke after the game.

The Dolphins have Melvin Ingram and Emmanuel Ogbah able to play on the edge, but they will be looking to the outside, too.

“That’s kind of where we’re at from a depth perspective,” McDaniel said. “We’re working on that as we speak.”

Ingram can be elevated from the practice squad or be granted an active roster spot. Miami also has outside linebacker Quinton Bell on the practice squad. The team can circle back to veteran Jason Pierre-Paul, whom the Dolphins signed earlier this season but waived Dec. 19, or find another available free agent.

There’s good news on wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and running back Raheem Mostert, with McDaniel saying Sunday night he’s optimistic about their status for the Chiefs game after they each missed the regular-season finale and the previous week’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

“They were pretty close, but both situations actually that would be very, very vulnerable to that being their last game if they would’ve played as vulnerable as they could have played for how long and what setbacks could incur,” McDaniel said.

The Miami coach is not as confident cornerback Xavien Howard can suit up after he was held out against the Bills following a foot injury suffered Dec. 31 in Baltimore.

“It’s fair to say we’re not planning on him to play in this game,” McDaniel said Monday.

Meanwhile, Dolphins safety Jevon Holland was on a limited snap count in his second game back from MCL sprains to both knees, seeing 27 plays on defense. McDaniel said Holland was “battling” Sunday night, but he wasn’t aware of any setbacks necessarily.

Fellow safety DeShon Elliott hurt a calf in pregame warmups but muscled through the game, even intercepting a pass.

How to watch

The Dolphins will have a quick turnaround to the playoffs, playing Saturday of the NFL’s wild-card weekend.

With Miami’s loss to the Bills Sunday night dropping the team to No. 6 in the AFC, the Dolphins will travel to Kansas City for a Saturday night 8 p.m. kickoff against the Chiefs. The game will air locally on NBC6 in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, but will only be available nationally on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service.

After beating the Dolphins to win the AFC East for the fourth consecutive season and clinching the No. 2 seed in the AFC, the Bills will host the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday at 1 p.m.

The other NFL playoff matchups are Cleveland at Houston at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Green Bay at Dallas at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Sunday at 8 p.m. and Philadelphia at Tampa Bay at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15.

2024 schedule

With the Dolphins finishing second in the division, the three games on the 2024 schedule that were still in the balance are now vs. Raiders, at Browns and at Packers. The team hosts the AFC West team that finished in the same place, Las Vegas and travels to the AFC North and NFC North teams second-place finishers.

In 2024, aside from the usual home-and-homes against the Dolphins’ three divisional opponents of Bills, Jets and Patriots, the entire AFC East plays against the entire AFC South and NFC West.

The Dolphins have home games against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. They have away games against the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks.

Dates and times for all matchups will be announced in May.