The New England Patriots did a respectable job of keeping Jimmy Garoppolo upright Sunday night against Chandler Jones, Calais Campbell and the rest of the Arizona Cardinals’ defense.
They’ll face another test this weekend against a Miami Dolphins front seven that spent Sunday terrorizing Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Led by former All-Pros Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams, the Dolphins sacked Wilson three times, hit him nine times and held Seattle’s offense to 12 points in a Week 1 loss. They have a similar welcome planned for Garoppolo, who’s set to make his second career start this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
“At the end of the day, we have to make sure we go in there and get him rattled,” Suh told reporters Thursday, via ESPN.com. “Get him moving around, get him off his spot and make him uncomfortable.”
The Patriots will, however, see a Dolphins D-line that is not at full strength. Starting defensive tackle Earl Mitchell was placed in injured reserve, Williams missed Thursday’s practice with a concussion, and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips and linebacker Jelani Jenkins both have been limited in practice this week.
But Miami does have a healthy Suh, and the former Detroit Lions star appears determined to prove his disappointing 2015 campaign was an aberration. Suh finished with four tackles, one sack and three quarterback hits against Seattle.
“He’s a great player,” Patriots center David Andrews said Thursday. “He’s fast, he’s strong, he’s big. He has a lot of experience, good football instincts. He’s one of the best in the league.”
Williams tallied two tackles, a sack and one QB hit against the Seahawks, while Phillips notched four tackles, half a sack and one QB hit. Miami’s athletic linebacker trio of Kiko Alonso, Koa Misi and Jenkins combined for 28 tackles.
The Dolphins also have veteran defensive end Cameron Wake at their disposal, and while the 34-year-old no longer is an every-down player, he’s sacked Patriots quarterbacks more times than anyone else in the NFL since he entered the league in 2009.
“They’re a great defense as a whole, but their defensive line (gets) a lot of penetration, and they cause a lot of disruption,” Patriots running back James White said. “So we’ve got to do a great job of handling them.”
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images