Shaheen Signed, Sealed, Delivered
The seventh round has been a fruitful one of late for the Miami Dolphins. Whether it's drafting the NFL's current leading kicker in field goal percentage back in 2018, finding feature back Myles Gaskin in 2019, or trading (conditionally) for tight end Adam Shaheen this summer, General Manager Chris Grier and the Dolphins front office are putting the final round to good use.
Shaheen, a second-round pick in 2017, joined the Dolphins in July and is making an immediate impact. He's caught touchdowns in each of the last two games. He hit a career-high against the Jets with 51 receiving yards, including a career-long 43-yard catch-and-run to set up another Dolphins touchdown.
Six games into his Dolphins career, Shaheen is closing in on his career-high in snaps played (127 snaps in 2020, chasing 239 in 2017). He's on track to play 338 snaps at his current pace.
"He's come in obviously via trade and he's really worked hard," Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores said. "I think he's been productive over the first six weeks of the season. We just felt like he was somebody we wanted to keep around for a few more years. There were some discussions ongoing and those guys were able to strike a deal."
Shaheen's most significant snap count workload came in Week 5 at San Francisco, when he stepped in for the injured Durham Smythe. He exemplified the next-man-up mentality by playing a season-high 38 snaps and earning his highest Pro Football Focus grades in receiving and pass blocking - at least until the Week 6 game vs. the Jets.
Shaheen was the Dolphins highest-graded offensive player in Miami's shutout win, earning a 91.9 overall offensive grade and 92.0 receiving grade in that game. He's played in six games with two starts for Miami this season, catching five passes for 58 yards (11.6 avg.) and two touchdowns. During his career, Shaheen has played in 33 games with 15 starts, catching 31 passes for 307 yards (9.9 avg.) and six touchdowns.
"After the trade, I just really kept working, kept getting healthier and just had a great opportunity," Shaheen said of the extension. "I've tried to make the most of that and it's worked out so far. But I've still got a lot of work to do, like I said."
Wednesday Injury report
To access the Dolphins-Rams Wednesday injury report, click here.
Coming off of the bye week, the Dolphins had extra time to prepare for Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams. At 5-2, Head Coach Sean McVay's team is fresh off an impressive performance in primetime in which they kept the Chicago Bears offense out of the end zone. That defense, littered with star players, is led by the NFL's second-leading sack artist - Aaron Donald, whose eight sacks are behind only Cleveland's Myles Garrett.
"Aaron Donald is a great player. He really is," Flores said. "I think we all know that he's one of the best defensive players in the league. He's consistently been that for a number of years now. But they've got a lot of other good players. Our offensive line, it's not just five-on-one. Let's be clear on that. They know that. We've talked to them about that already. Obviously we have to play close attention to Aaron Donald and he's a very, very great player; but they've got a very good team over there."
Though the Dolphins will start a new quarterback for the first time since Week 6 of 2019, Flores' expectations are unchanged for what he's looking for out his offense and his team.
"The same thing we're always looking for," he said. "Good communication, cohesiveness along the offensive line and our run blocking and run assignments. The same thing in our play-action and drop-backs. Then good overall execution."
The extra week of preparation never hurts. Rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa detailed today how he spent the bye week leading up to his first NFL start.
"I spent a lot of my time up here at the facility just watching some film but also working out," Tagovailoa said. "I would say I got with some of the guys as well, just so we could work on some timing with certain things, certain routes. Really, the only off day I had was Sunday."
The 22-year-old southpaw also discussed facing the Rams defense in his first start.
"I think it's really exciting for our offense and our team," Tagovailoa said. "It will show what kind of team we kind of have after a bye week. We know what we're going up against. We're going up against one of the top NFL defenses in the league and it's not just Jalen Ramsey, it's not just Aaron Donald. You guys have Leonard Floyd, you've got (Michael) Brockers, (Kenny) Young and then Troy Hill and guys on the back end. They're very sound defensively."
The Other Hand
Tagovailoa will be the first left-handed quarterback to start a game in the NFL since Kellen Moore played for the Cowboys in 2015. Center Ted Karras was asked if there are any differences snapping the ball to a lefty.
"I don't know the nuances with that," Karras said. "Obviously we've taken a lot of snaps over the last four months. It's been smooth and it's our goal to continue to keep it that way. It's been great."
Receiver Isaiah Ford weighed in on a pass catcher's perspective.
"I think it's just about seeing it all the way in your hands," Ford said. "Watching the ball all the way into your hands, securing it with your eyes and into the tuck. I think it will be just a little more focusing on that and then once you're out there in the flow of the game and everything, that all takes care of itself."
Miami puts its 3-3 record on the line against the 5-2 Rams on Sunday at 1 p.m. A win would give the Dolphins their first three-game winning streak since Weeks 1-3 of 2018.