Running back Myles Gaskin's 304 snaps played are 101 more than Miami's second-leading back in the reps department. With Gaskin still on injured reserve, and Matt Breida unavailable Sunday in Arizona, the Dolphins turned to veteran Jordan Howard and Salvon Ahmed, who was making his NFL debut.
Ahmed led the team with 38 rushing yards on seven carries and Howard found the end zone for his fourth rushing touchdown, good for the team lead this season. Dolphins tackle/guard Jesse Davis was impressed by Ahmed's debut and went into detail about the benefits of a running back with noticeable quickness.
"He's willing to learn, he's a coachable back," Davis said. "He's quick, a really fast guy, especially out of the backfield. That kind of helps the offense move when you have guys that can hit the hole and be gone. I'm excited to see him develop more. Obviously Gaskin really developed and I feel like that's a similar type of back."
Gaskin isn't eligible to come off injured reserve for two more weeks, but Breida has been back at practice the last two days, albeit in a limited capacity.
"It was nice to see him out there yesterday and just take a few reps and see him move around a little bit," Head Coach Brian Flores said. "He's fast, he's explosive, he's tough. I think he's done a really nice job for us in the kicking game. He's gotten his opportunities as a runner. He's broken some big plays, and he just needs to do what he's been doing. He prepares the right way."
The Dolphins have another option in the backfield via newcomer DeAndre Washington. The Dolphins acquired the former Chiefs and Raiders running back at the trade deadline for a swap of conditional draft picks.
Last year in Oakland, Washington caught 87.7 percent of his targets (36-of-41) in the passing game for 292 yards. In his five-year career, Washington has 1,742 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. With a 2.72 average yards after initial contact rate, 291 of Washington's 387 rushing yards last season came after he slipped the initial tackle. He's been in pass protection for 74 snaps and surrendered just two pressures, per Pro Football Focus, and has 381 career snaps on special teams.
"We watched him during the free agency process last year," Flores said. "I think he's got good vision, good run skills, can catch the ball out of the backfield. Just doing some background on him, he's a hard worker. It's important to him. He's competitive."
The Dolphins running game ranks 28th in the NFL at 97.1 yards per game. Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey broke down the thinking and philosophy behind the run game, and how it's just part of the offensive equation as a whole.
"Really the run game is more of a process of they are putting an extra guy in the box," Gailey said. "So if they put extra guys in the box, guess what? We're going to throw it. We're not going to try to run uphill. I think we're capable of it, and I think if people start taking away the pass, then we'll start running it better."
Thursday Injury Report
Wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. has been activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list. Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and wide receiver Matt Cole have been placed on the list.
Defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (not injury related) did not practice Thursday. Running back Matt Breida, cornerback Jamal Perry and tight end Durham Smythe (concussion) were limited participants in Thursday's practice.
Running back Justin Jackson (knee) did not practice on Thursday. Defensive end Joey Bosa (concussion), offensive guard Trai Turner (groin) and offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (back) were limited participants at Thursday's Chargers practice.
To read the rest of the Dolphins-Chargers Week 10 injury report, click here.
Limiting Los Angeles' Lightning
The Dolphins defense has been lights out over the last month. Allowing just 16.3 points per game, the defense has scored two touchdowns of its own and piled up nine takeaways during the four-game winning streak. Another tough test lies ahead as the high-powered Chargers offense comes to town, led by rookie quarterback Justin Herbert.
"He's done a good job against pressure; but he's really done a good job against everything," Flores said. "They do a good job offensively – run game, pass game, screens, draws, they move the ball efficiently, third down, red zone – so it's a good football team."
Herbert has been aces throwing the football down the field. His 597 passing yards on throws 20 or more yards downfield is sixth best in the NFL, per PFF. Despite the deep-shot prowess, wide receiver Keenan Allen remains the most productive of the bunch. His 62 receptions are second in the NFL and he's 11th in receiving with 651 yards.
"He's one of the top players in the league," Flores said of Allen. "Very productive, very good route-runner, good hands, good after the catch. He's a very good player and he poses a lot of problems; but they've got other guys that pose problems as well. (Jalen) Guyton, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry. So we're going to have to deal with guys on the perimeter."
On defense, the Chargers boast the 11th-best pressure rate (22.9 percent) despite the lowest blitz rate (11.9 percent) in the NFL, per Pro Football Reference. Two reasons Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley prefers to get home with four rushers – Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Bosa is fifth in the NFL with 37 quarterback pressures, per PFF, while Ingram has 23 quarterback pressures in only five games.
Dolphins offensive tackle Austin Jackson detailed what makes the Chargers dynamic edge rushing duo so dangerous.
"Ingram is a real shifty guy," Jackson said. "Great at reading leverage. Then Bosa on the other side, the same thing. Both are very technique-sound defensive ends, so that means they're going to read shoulder leverage and all that stuff. I think that's one of the things they do best."