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Dolphins searching for nickel cornerback

FootballPro FootballMiami DolphinsDerrick ShelbyRishard MatthewsCameron WakeJamar Taylor

The Miami Dolphins are holding open auditions for a starting nickel cornerback.

Reshad Jones' four-game suspension for performance enhancing drug use has move Jimmy Wilson, who has manned the nickel spot for the past two years, into the strong safety spot.

Wilson was paired with Louis Delmas as the first-teamers for most of Sunday afternoon's practice, and Jamar Taylor and Michael Thomas are being trained to be his replacement.

It is possible that Cortland Finnegan, who is presently the starting cornerback opposite Brent Grimes, could see some action at nickel in the coming days. But he missed Sunday's practice because of a death in his family.

Taylor, who manned the nickel spot at Boise State, will get the first crack at replacing Wilson because of his status as a second-round pick, and the third cornerback on the depth chart.

"At this point I'm real comfortable at nickel. I know the plays, I know where my help is, and I know the technique the coaches want," Taylor said.

But Thomas, who has spent the past two weeks of Wilson's backup, appears to be a dark horse in the battle.

"He played fast the other night, he really did. He was active on special teams. He was active on defense. He tackled well," coach Joe Philbin said. "He's a guy that coaches like because he brings some energy and enthusiasm to the football team."

Defensive end depth shows

The Dolphins are blessed at defensive end among starters Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon (he didn't play Friday) and reserves Dion Jordan, Derrick Shelby and Terrence Fede.

Wake, Shelby and Fede made lots of trouble for Falcons rookie right tackle Jake Matthews, the No. 6 pick of the draft from Texas A&M. Matthews was called for two holding penalties against Shelby and all three players had good success in the pass rush from the left side.

Fede ended with two tackles, including one for a loss, and Jordan had one tackle. Wake and Shelby didn't have a tackle. The Dolphins didn't record a sack or quarterback hit but the pass rush from the left side was steady.

Camp observations

Sunday's practice featured plenty of 1-on-1 work, tackling drills for the defenders, and a ton of special teams work….Rookie safety Demetrius Wright pulled in the practice's only interception….Knowshon Moreno is being worked back into practice coming off his knee injury, but he's running at half speed….Lamar Miller consistently beat Miami's linebackers during 1-on-1.

Who's up

Veteran Armon Binns, who is in a dogfight with Rishard Matthews, Damian Williams and Marcus Thigpen for one of the Dolphins' final receiver spots caught a deep pass from Tannehill during one-on-one drills, and was effectively creating separation. Binns, who caught one pass for 6-yards against the Falcons, needs to impress in the final three exhibition games to keep his roster spot.

Who's down

With two tailbacks sidelined by injuries this is Mike Gillislee's opportunity to impress the coaching staff, audition for a spot on the 53-man roster. But 40 minutes into Sunday's practice Gillislee suffered an injury and sat out the rest of the session. His absence, if extended, could open the door for Orleans Darkwa to take twice as many snaps.

Injury update

Tailback Damien Williams, who suffer a right foot injury in Friday night's 16-10 loss to the Falcons, sat out Friday's practice. But the rookie tailback from Oklahoma, who has worked his way up the team's depth chart, ran sprints on his own, and participate in a rehab assignment. The Dolphins say his status is day-to-day, which indicated that his injury wasn't major.

DT A.J. Francis, the second team nose tackle, suffered a left knee injury in the Falcons game, will be sidelined a few weeks. Francis has a noticeable limp….

TE Michael Egnew, who has been sidelined a week because of a concussion, returned to practice on Sunday….

Pat Devlin (hamstring) and Matt Moore (shoulder) both threw during practice, hinting that they are likely to play in Saturday's exhibition game against Tampa Bay. Both quarterbacks missed the exhibition opener.

RB Daniel Thomas (hamstring), TE Charles Clay (knee) and TE Gator Hoskins (hamstring) continue to be sidelined by their injuries. CB Jalil Brown (knee) returned to practice after sitting out a week.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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