Only a few moments on the calendar can compete with Week 12 in the National Football League. Annually, the last week of the penultimate month provides three Thursday matchups, a boatload of college football rivalries, then the grand finale with the Dolphins playing on Sunday.
Today, on Top News, we'll check in on the players to see how they celebrate the holiday and give the latest on a pivotal Sunday showdown against the visiting Carolina Panthers.
Brian Flores, like any coach, is a busy man. But that doesn't prevent him from spending quality time with his family.
Flores on balancing family and work: "When I'm home, I try to be present with my kids. When I'm there, I try to throw the football around, play baseball, run around with them as best I can. I think that's the most important thing. I don't want to go home and watch more film. I don't do that. All coaches kind of deal with that same wanting to spend time with their family, knowing it's important – very important – but also doing what we love, coaching and spending time with our other kids which are the players in the locker room. It's not easy but I try my best to FaceTime as much as I can and make the parent-teacher conferences even if it's over Zoom. It's not perfect but I work hard at it. You always want to spend more time and we get that done in the offseason."
Jaylen Waddle is gobbling up catches this season -- he ranks fifth in the league with 68 receptions. On this holiday, much like he plays multiple positions across the offense, he bounced around and collected leftovers just like he collects passes.
Waddle on his first Thanksgiving in Miami: "Tua did tell me to come over there. I might come over there. I plan on going all around and just picking up plates really. (laughter)"
Waddle mentioned the place to go is the offensive line, because they know how to eat. Based on Austin Jackson's comments, the rookie receiver is wise beyond his years.
Jackson on his holiday cooking: "I actually don't think I have a lot of family coming into town for this game. I think Christmas, I will. I've got some turkey legs I want to smoke. Tua (Tagovailoa) got us a Traeger (grill) last year for Christmas, so I finally got that set up. So I'm probably going to throw something on the grill and see what I can do."
Jackson and the Miami offensive line didn't yield a sack at the Jets last week. Carolina has a pair of edge rushers -- Brian Burns and Haason Reddick -- who have combined for 17.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss this season. The Panthers also boast the league's No. 1 passing defense, with players like Stephon Gilmore, Donte Jackson, A.J. Bouye and C.J. Henderson in the secondary. On Wednesday, Tua Tagovailoa broke down this second-ranked scoring defense.
Tagovailoa on Carolina defense: "Fast, athletic. They're very good as far as their communication up front and then the back end, I do understand that they – I think they're the No. 1 pass defense, which forces us to – it gives us a challenge, I would say. I would say philosophy-wise with this defense, they don't give up big plays much. It's more of an eight-play or 12-play drive. They really make you work for points. You don't ever see them blow coverages. You rarely ever see a three-play or four-play drive and a team scores on this team. They do present a big challenge for us."
Tua and the Dolphins offense have their hands full Sunday, just as the Miami defense will be occupied by a multifaceted Panthers attack.
Josh Boyer on Panthers offense, quarterback in the run game: "When you're talking about a quarterback run scheme, I think it's very important for us defensively to make sure that everybody plays good assignment football and you try not to do more than your responsibility. That's when you can get in trouble and that's when you can put yourself in bad position, and somebody like Lamar can make you miss or somebody like Cam can run through you. When you're talking about a quarterback in the run game, it really starts with assignment football. That will be our focus going into the week.
The Dolphins added help to the running back room by claiming Phillip Lindsay from the Houston Texans. Lindsey, an undrafted free agent in 2018, made the Pro Bowl in his rookie campaign and rushed for 1,000-plus yards each of his first two years. He found his rhythm in the outside zone scheme of those 2018-19 Broncos teams, but he's displayed the versatility the Dolphins covet at the position.
Vince Biegel is back. After a training camp injury sidelined him for the second straight season, the linebacker returns to the active roster. Biegel led the Dolphins in QB pressures his lone full season (2019, 34 pressures) with Miami.
The team also added Will Parks from the San Francisco practice squad to the active roster and placed cornerback Jamal Perry and linebacker Brennan Scarlett to the injured reserve.
The Dolphins also signed linebacker Wynton McManis to the practice squad this week.
The final injury report for Dolphins-Panthers is as follows: