CINCINNATI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – It’s still only September but the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals are both in must-win mode.
Adam Gase may be a first-time head coach, but the 38-year-old was quick to light a fire under his underachieving team after benching a former first-round pick in last week’s contest.
Gase hopes his aggressive action will provide a jolt for the sputtering Miami Dolphins, who will look to prevent their third 1-3 start in five years on Thursday when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I’m over discussing any of this stuff with players,” a testy Gase said on the heels of his team’s 30-24 overtime victory over winless Cleveland. “We’re either going to start getting the job done, or we’re going to make changes.”
Right tackle Ja’Wuan James, who was the 19th overall selection of the 2014 draft, was relegated to the bench after he was burned on a rush that led to a strip sack on the final drive of the fourth quarter on Sunday.
While Miami was fortunate to walk away with its first win, Cincinnati has followed its impressive season-opening victory over the New York Jets with a 24-16 loss to Pittsburgh in Week 2 and a 29-17 setback to Denver on Sunday.
Mercurial Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is eager to stop the bleeding when he makes his season debut on Thursday after serving a three-game suspension for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules.
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network. LINE: Bengals -7. O/U: 44.5
ABOUT THE DOLPHINS (1-2): With veteran Arian Foster still nursing a groin injury, Gase is expected to use rookie Kenyan Drake as the starter in a four-tier running back carousel that also features Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams and Isaiah Pead.
Ajayi had an 11-yard touchdown run in overtime last week, but the Dolphins’ 25th-ranked ground attack is mustering just 83 yards per game and is led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill (club-best 54 yards).
Tannehill continues to click with trusted target Jarvis Landry (AFC-leading 314 yards receiving) and fellow wideout DeVante Parker, but Dion Sims will get the nod as fellow tight end Jordan Cameron nurses the fourth concussion in his six-year career.
ABOUT THE BENGALS (1-2): Jeremy Hill scored twice last week and has 10 rushing touchdowns in his last 11 games heading into a date with the sputtering Dolphins’ defense, which allowed 169 yards rushing last week and an NFL second-worst 147.3 yards per game.
Andy Dalton (AFC-best 938 passing yards) was limited to just 206 yards passing last week versus the Broncos and A.J. Green has just 10 catches for 115 yards combined over the last two games.
The duo could get back on track at the expense of cornerback Xavien Howard, who was shredded for eight catches for 144 yards by Cleveland’s Terrell Pryor last week.
- Cincinnati Pro Bowl TE Tyler Eifert (ankle) is not expected to make his season debut on Thursday, ESPN reported, citing a source. He’s officially listed as doubtful.
- Miami DE Cameron Wake recorded three sacks versus Dalton in the last meeting, with the final one resulting in a safety in overtime of a 22-20 win.
- Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring) has been held out of both practices this week, leaving his status for Thursday’s game in question. He’s listed as doubtful.
- The Dolphins will be without C Mike Pouncey (hip), TE Jordan Cameron (concussion), RB Arian Foster (hamstring) and LB Koa Misi (neck). LB Jelani Jenkins (groin) and backup C Anthony Steen (ankle) are listed as doubtful.
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