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NOTEBOOK: Buffalo Weather Not A Big Concern; Other Notes

Posted Dec 20, 2013

Winning in the snow at Pittsburgh has built Miami’s confidence.



December weather in upstate New York is nothing like it is here in South Florida, but the Miami Dolphins already knew that and are aptly prepared for Sunday’s meeting with the Bills.

Snow apparently won’t be in issue this time like it was two weeks ago at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh against the Steelers in a game Miami won, 34-28. But forecasts calling for cold temperatures, a strong wind and rain could be a concern, just not as big a one as some make it out to be.

“The thing about the NFL is, I know we’re the Miami Dolphins but it’s not like everybody on the team is from Miami,” said cornerback Brent Grimes, who grew up in Philadelphia and played his college football at Shippensburg (Pa.) University. “People have seen cold weather conditions and having played a cold game in Pittsburgh with snow and 20-degree temperatures we kind of know what to expect. We knew when you Buffalo on your schedule in December it’s not going to be 65 degrees out there so it’s kind of expected. It’s football and you play it in the elements and we’ll be ready.”

Head Coach Joe Philbin addressed the weather question earlier in the week by turning the focus to fundamentals and execution regardless of the conditions. He acknowledged that at the beginning of the Pittsburgh game when it was snowing hard that might have been a factor, but after it let up everything came down to basic football, even in quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s first ever game in the snow.

Of course heavy winds and rain can pose a different kind of challenge, but Philbin understands how to prepare for that kind of weather having coached in Green Bay for so many years. He knows adjustments will have to be made depending on what direction the wind is blowing from and the wind speed but he isn’t letting that dominate the discussion.

“You have to be concerned about it,” Philbin said. “You have to see exactly how strong it is, is it a crosswind, is it at your back or is it swirling. It’s hard to control some of things and predict. We’ve even been in our stadium sometimes and thought we did the right thing at the end of the half and all of a sudden in the fourth quarter the wind is blowing a different way. So you make educated decisions based on the information you have to the best of your ability and you just try to be smart. If you’re throwing out breaking routes down the field 20 yards deep into the wind, you’ve got to think about that. You’ve got to think, is that the smartest thing to do.”

Center Mike Pouncey acknowledged that Philbin had him and Tannehill working on center-quarterback exchanges with a wet ball during the week to account for the expected conditions. The wide receivers also are aware of how catching a wet ball in the wind differs from optimal conditions and they too are prepared.

Brian Hartline is a native of Canton, Ohio and played at Ohio State, so he is used to this type of weather and is not at all worried about his play being affected. Rishard Matthews, who has filled in nicely for the injured Brandon Gibson, is from California and played at Nevada, so he isn’t quite at home in the cold and with a freezing rain and strong wind.

“You’ve just got to keep focused on the ball and that’s where your fundamentals have to kick in place,” he said. “You’ve just got to have your eyes on the ball and try to secure the catch when you get it. This game is all about adjusting and we’re just hoping to go up there and get a win.”

Rain or shine.

THIS AND THAT

Philbin moved the team back inside for today’s practice and Marcus Thigpen was working on his one-handed catches again during special teams drills. … Long snapper John Denney was the only player missing from the morning session. … An informal survey of some of the players’ favorite Christmas carols revealed “Silent Night” as the clear winner, though nobody was brave enough to sing a verse. Defensive tackle Jared Odrick whistled a few bars of “Feliz Navidad,” and showed off a hidden talent.

HIP HOP FRIDAY

There was no Christmas music on the playlist during warm-ups and the stretching period, as hip-hop was the dominant theme. Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It,” started off the three-song set, with “Hypnotize,” by Notorious B.I.G. up next. Dr. Dre closed things out with “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thing.”

THE LAST WORD

“I’m just going to beat him, beat him bad. I trashed talk too much the first time around and he ended up beating me.” – Grimes on wanting a rematch with Philbin in ping-pong after losing to him the first time
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