On a day that a stomach flu inside the team ended Dolphins training camp prematurely, coach Mike McDaniel said linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel’s mystery absence the past two days was the result of an “appendix issue.”
“He is feeling great, McDaniel said. “There is significant optimism it shouldn’t affect anything in the season. He will do his best to get back as fast as possible.”
Per a team source, Van Ginkel’s appendix was removed but it was not ruptured like Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow’s was. Burrow’s issue, which sidelined him for much of training camp, was thus more serious. There’s a decent to good chance that Van Ginkel can play in Week 1 on Sept. 11 against visiting New England.
Meanwhile, cornerback Nik Needham - who left practice with a trainer on Wednesday - is “day to day” with an injury that isn’t considered serious.
“Nothing super significant,” McDaniel said.
And McDaniel said he expects Jaylen Waddle - who is walking around fine with a lower body injury - has not had any setbacks and is expected back “sooner than later.”
Waddle has been on the field but hasn’t participated in full team drills the past two weeks; the Dolphins have indicated it’s nothing serious. Waddle did participate in individual drills on Wednesday; McDaniel held him out of team drills, joking that he was worried Waddle would go too hard to impress former Alabama teammates on the Eagles.
Before Van Ginkel returns, the Dolphins will continue on with an outside linebacker pairing of Jaelan Phillips and Melvin Ingram, both of whom have been listed as starters throughout camp.
“Melvin has learned the defense,” Phillips said. “He’s great veteran leadership, extremely talented pass rusher and early down stopper, honestly, too. So he’s been invaluable for me and for our team, just learning from him and really just picking his brain on what it’s like to be an elite pass rusher and an elite edge player in the league.”
During the season, Van Ginkel, Phillips and Ingram are all expected to play a lot in a rotation.
Meanwhile, McDaniel was vague in discussing a Pro Football Focus report that the Dolphins have discussed a trade involving tight end Mike Gesicki, who continues to adjust to playing in-line more, and blocking more, than he has in the past.
Asked if Gesicki is assured to be on the roster week 1, McDaniel said: ”These reports are tricky to me. During the training camp and during the offseason in general, GMs have work to do and are not just watching us coach. When somebody uses that loose verbiage that his name has been brought up, the report is misleading because there probably should be a lot of names in that report.
“All I’m focused on is coaching Mike, and Mike is focused on getting better. He had a great week of practice this week, which tells you a lot about that individual, because there has been random noise that he hasn’t listened to clearly. He’s putting his best foot forward. That’s all I’m concerned about. I like coaching Mike.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ On the importance of Saturday’s game against the Eagles with regard to roster decisions, McDaniel said there are more than a handful of tough choices awaiting: “There are jobs to be settled. Not as easy as who has the most yards and the most tackles.”
Thursday’s joint practice was canceled because several Dolphins have stomach-bug symptoms. Training camp is now officially over. The Dolphins indicated that Saturday’s game against visiting Philadelphia at 7 p.m. remains on track to be played.
▪ Even with Waddle still sidelined by a lower body injury, Tua Tagovailoa likes the symbiotic relationship that’s developing between the team’s top receivers, and the impact that should have eventually on the running game.
“Jaylen gets Tyreek [Hill] open. Tyreek gets Jaylen open,” Tagovailoa said. “Tyreek and Jaylen get everyone else open. And those – all three, all four, whoever’s out there; they get their running backs open. And so it opens up a lot of things for our run game and our run game opens up a lot of things for our play pass, so everything really complements kind of the scheme that we play football on offense.”
▪ Tagovailoa was asked by Philadelphia media this week about what feels different about this season.
“Everything. Everything,” he said. “The offense is different. The confidence that the guys have coming out to practice is different. The confidence that the guys have coming into the building is different.
“The way we do things around the building is different. Just everything. I can’t necessarily point to one thing and I think that’s what’s going to help make us a better team is us spending more time with each other, not just in the building, but outside the building.”
Asked where that confidence is coming from, Tagovailoa said: “It’s the guys that that are helping us get to where we want to go. And I would say it’s our position coaches. It’s obviously our head coach, who is probably one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever been around, and I would say just those guys and kind of the leadership that Mike displays for everyone to see. I think that’s what gives the entirety of the team confidence.”