Dolphins searching for a new starting safety to replace Louis Delmas

Sun Sentinel
The Dolphins have a tough decision to make on where to play Jimmy Wilson moving forward.

Miami Dolphins safety Louis Delmas will undergo an MRI Monday morning to confirm that he tore the ACL in his right knee during Sunday's 28-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

According to team sources Miami's coaches already know Delmas' season is done no matter what the MRI reveals. At this point the team's focus is on identifying who will replace Delmas as the safety paired with Reshad Jones.

The Dolphins (7-6) do have a couple of options that could finish out the season's final three games as Miami's starting free safety.

Jimmy Wilson, who has contributed 39 tackles and one interception in the 11 games he's played this season, started the first four games of the season as the free safety paired with Delmas during Jones' four-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs.

Wilson returned to his old spot as Miami's nickel cornerback when Jones came back, and he's a valuable contributor there. But moving the four-year veteran back to safety could be the seamless move.

Problem is moving Wilson back to safety would create a void at nickel spot unless either Cortland Finnegan and Jamar Taylor are healthy enough to fill in as the cornerback who defends the slot receivers.

Finnegan has missed four straight games because of a left ankle he sprained in Miami's 20-16 loss to the Lions a month ago. He practiced twice last week but wasn't cleared to play against the Ravens. His replacement, Taylor, has been sidelined by a separated shoulder he suffered against the Broncos two weeks ago.

If either of those cornerbacks return to the field it would free Wilson up to play safety, which is his natural position. Both if they aren't cleared to play Miami would have to add another cornerback to the 53-man roster to make that move work.

It is possible the Dolphins could call on rookie safety Walt Aikens to take over the free safety spot, either full-time, or as the sub who comes into the game when Wilson moves closer to the line of scrimmage to defend slot receivers.

Aikens, a former Liberty standout the Dolphins selected in the fourth round, has played sparingly this season as a safety and cornerback, contributing 11 tackles, one interception and one pass deflection.

But Aikens does present a ton of upside, and giving him the available playing time could be viewed as a developmental opportunity that might help Miami identify if they could rely on him as a future starter.

The Dolphins need to keep an eye on the future at safety because both Delmas and Wilson are free agents this coming offseason, and it is possible that both won't return to the Dolphins.

Delmas, who contributed 61 tackles, one sack and one interception this season, is looking at a 9-12 month recovery for his injured knee, which means he could miss the entire 2015 season. And Wilson, a 2011 seventh-round pick, will seek his biggest NFL play day this offseason, which means he'll likely take his services to the highest bidder during free agency.

The Dolphins also have safeties Don Jones, who has played some nickel, and Jordan Kovacs on the roster, but both are mainly viewed as special teams contributors. The Dolphins could also call up cornerback Lowell Rose up from the practice squad to help the injury decimated secondary.

Miami's coaches will likely audition all viable, healthy options this week in practice, but keep in mind the nickel spot will be critical to the team's success this week because most of New England's offensive sets feature three receivers.

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