The return of wide receiver Danny Amendola and special teams standout Brandon Bolden to Gillette Stadium might be a big storyline for the Dolphins-Patriots game this weekend, but the two players aren't about to make it a big deal.
Bolden spent his first six NFL seasons with New England before joining the Dolphins in September, while Amendola was signed as a free agent in the offseason after he spent five seasons with the Patriots.
Amendola spoke to a large group of reporters Wednesday and the first few questions centered around his return to New England.
And this is how Amendola answered: "I'm going to be on the other side of the field. That's it. … I've played there before. I've had a lot of experience playing there. I'm excited to get back up there."
That was about as much as Amendola would say about playing at Gillette Stadium for an opposing team, saying instead he was just focusing on trying to help the Dolphins.
It was pretty much the same with Bolden, who had an offer to return to the Patriots after they released him as part of their final cuts but instead chose to come down to Miami.
"It's just another football game right now," Bolden said. "I have a lot of real close friends, a lot of great relationships that were built over the past couple of years, but for me it's just another day at the office. Those guys understand that they know I love them all like brothers and it goes for the coaches as well, and I'm pretty sure they'd say the same thing, but they know at the end of the day it was a business decision and this is a game of football. And we're going to line up and go have some fun."
DE dilemma: With the Dolphins short on defensive ends, they promoted Jonathan Woodard from the practice squad and he could be in line for some work very quickly. Head Coach Adam Gase said Wednesday it was "highly unlikely" that veteran Andre Branch would be able to play against New England and Cameron Wake also sat out the first practice of the week because of a knee injury. That left Woodard, Robert Quinn and Charles Harris as the only healthy defensive ends on the active roster. "We'll get through this week of practice and see who is going to be available and go from there," Gase said. For his part, Woodard is excited at the prospect of making his NFL debut Sunday, even though it's not the way he would have wanted it to happen. "You never want your guys to get hurt like that," Woodard said. "You don't want to lose guys like Branch and Will. I knew there was a possibility, but I was hoping that those guys would be healthy. They're a big part of our team. I hate to lose them. I know they put a lot of work into it."
Reshad report: Though Gase declined to make any definitive statements Wednesday, the Dolphins are hoping to have two-time Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones back in the lineup against New England. "He practiced today, so that's a good sign for us," Gase said. "We'll just keep evaluating him after every practice and see how he feels. Once we get closer to the game, we'll have a better idea." Gase said it was his call to keep Jones out of the game against Oakland, and that decision was made partly because of the opponent. "He was really sore and didn't have the strength he needed," Gase said. "Knowing who we were playing that game, him and Marshawn (Lynch), they find each other. He needed to be closer to full strength than where he was. It was more my call, because if it probably were up to him, he would've given it a go. We were in one of those situations where we had to make a decision."
Spaight spotlight: New linebacker Martrell Spaight took part in his first practice with the Dolphins on Wednesday after officially signing with the team in the morning. Spaight, who appeared in 30 games with seven starts for the Washington Redskins over the past three seasons, was reunited with a couple of former University of Arkansas teammates, A.J. Derby and Travis Swanson. "I got a chance to talk to those guys, pick their brain a little bit about the whole organization, the scheme and things like that," Spaight said. "It's been great so far. The atmosphere here is amazing. A lot of guys are interacting with me, just showing me the hospitality being on a great team. It's been great so far. There's a lot of intensity out there. Everyone is having fun. It actually feels like home." Spaight had 69 tackles for Washington last season when he had a career-high six starts. This was his description of his playing style: "Very physical. Fast and physical. I pride myself on getting to the football every play, making plays on the football, big hits. Really just showing a lot of energy out there for my teammates and just making my presence felt out there."
Roster moves: The signing of Spaight and the promotion of Woodard from the practice squad filled the two roster openings created when the Dolphins placed defensive end William Hayes on injured reserve and waived wide receiver Tanner McEvoy. The Dolphins also signed defensive ends Cameron Malveaux and Jeremiah Valoaga to the practice squad. Malveaux appeared in four games with the Dolphins last season, while Valoaga played nine games for the Detroit Lions.
Gore gives back: Running back Frank Gore took advantage of his day off Tuesday to surprise the Coconut Grove Hornets of Greater Miami Pop Warner at Armbrister Park with new football equipment for their program. Growing up, Gore played for the Hornets and also practiced at Armbrister Park. The donated equipment included Junior Dolphins branded shirts, Dolphins branded footballs, Gatorade bottles, cones, end zone pylons, tackling dummies and a chain set and down markers. The team also had the opportunity to hear from Dolphins alum Tony Nathan about the importance of working hard in school and getting good grades. "It's real big, because that's where I'm from," Gore said. "We're big on football and I'm one of the big names that come from out that neighborhood, so every time I come back, I let them know it's possible and you can do the same thing."
Football Unites event: As part of the organization's Football Unites program, Dolphins players Kenny Stills, Leonte Carroo, Connor Hilland, Jamiyus Pittman and Quentin Poling spent their day off Tuesday with the Broward Sherriff's Office (BSO) to discuss community policing and take part in youth engagement activities. The goal of the ride-along is to show a unified front in Broward County between Dolphins players and law enforcement. The players started the afternoon with a visit to the BSO Deerfield Police Athletic League (PAL).
The group also attended a BSO roll call and addressed a local youth football team together. "Spending time with the kids and trying to help foster relationships between law enforcement, the community and ourselves, it's really important that the Dolphins do this," Stills said. "It's been three years now and I just see the effect that it has on the community, on the kids, on myself and all the officers just to spend this time and Its so valuable just to be around and mentor. The message is not to be afraid of the police; the police are here to serve. Thank them for their service when you see them, wave, shake hands, introduce yourself and try to have a relationship with them outside of when you're just talking to them when you're in trouble. I didn't have any experiences of NFL guys coming to my practice when I was younger. I think that is part of the reason why it's so important that we are out here."