De’Von Achane’s magical week — which began with a 203-yard rushing performance on Sunday against Denver — continued Wednesday when Mike McDaniel flashed his picture on the video screen at the end of a team meeting and announced that the Texas A&M rookie was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Achane averaged 11.3 yards on his 18 carries on Sunday. The 203 rushing yards were tied for the seventh most in a game in franchise history.
Of his 208 yards this season, 115 have come after contact. Even though Achane isn’t big physically (5-9, 188 pounds), he always has had the ability to break tackles.
“That was one game, but I know what I can do,” he said. “... “Hopefully the league will see I can run in between the tackles and I’m not just a speed guy.”
He said his strength can be attributed to “my legs, my core. I’ve always been strong.”
The breakaway speed was evident on the 67-yard touchdown that gave the Dolphins their 10th and final touchdown of the day.
“When I do see holes, I try to go through as fast as I can,” he said. “The main thing is not get caught. That’s one of my biggest fears, to be caught.”
Achane and Raheem Mostert both tied a franchise record with four touchdowns on Sunday, and Achane is sending the football from his first NFL touchdown to his mother, who will display it in a trophy case in her Houston home.
Among those who sent congratulatory text messages after Sunday’s game: Texas A&M and former UM running backs coach Tommie Robinson and several former Aggies teammates.
McDaniel and running backs coach Eric Studesville will have decisions to make on playing time when Salvon Ahmed returns from a groin injury (possibly Sunday) and Jeff Wilson Jr. returns from injured reserve (possibly as early as next week). Mostert will continue to start, and Achane has earned more opportunities.
“When everybody is back healthy, we’re all capable of doing the same thing,” Achane said. “It doesn’t matter who’s in.”
Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle is out of concussion protocol and was cleared to play on Sunday at Buffalo (1 p.m., CBS). Left tackle Terron Armstead also returned to practice after missing a day.
But linebacker Jaelan Phillips (oblique) and receivers Erik Ezukanma (neck) and River Cracraft (shoulder) remain out.
Dolphins center Connor Williams, who missed Wednesday’s practice with a groin injury, was back at Thursday’s session, but it wasn’t clear — at least during the media viewing session — whether he would be a full participant.
Liam Eichenberg had never hiked the ball, in any game at any level, until he was summoned off the bench when Williams departed with a groin injury against Denver.
If Eichenberg — who logged 30 snaps against Denver — needs to play Sunday, he assures everyone that he and Tua Tagovailoa have been putting in extra time to reduce the chance of any snafus with their center/quarterback exchanges.
“That’s definitely one of the concerns a lot of people have with a new center,” Eichenberg said. “It’s definitely something we’re focusing on.”
Part of the center’s responsibility is identifying defensive nuances. So is guard to center a difficult transition?
“I would say snapping is definitely not easy but in regards to playing center, it’s the mental aspect,” He said. “Seeing the defense, [identifying] everything correctly [to the other players]. This week will give me more reps calling out everything, will make it a lot smoother.”
Eichenberg had never even practiced at center before coaches asked him to do it in May practices, when Williams sat out due to a contract dispute.
“He’s doing a great job,” offensive coordinator Frank Smith said. “He’s a true pro in everything he does.”
The Dolphins felt comfortable enough in Eichenberg’s ability to play center that they traded backup center Dan Feeney to Chicago for a 2024 sixth-round pick.
With Eichenberg at center, “there are a lot of things we have to work on, but there’s a lot of good things we have to work with,” offensive line coach Butch Barry said. “He has those tangibles that work really well. With [shouting out] declarations and protections with run game, he can get it all set for us.”
Tua Tagovailoa was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month; he’s the first Dolphin to win it since Scott Mitchell did in November 1993. Dan Marino is the only other Dolphin to win it; he won it twice.
THIS AND THAT
Quick hits from the assistant coach media session on Thursday:
▪ Isaiah Wynn is the only NFL guard who hasn’t allowed a QB pressure (100 snaps minimum).
Barry said the Dolphins are using him at guard — after four years playing tackle for the Patriots — because “there were a lot of aspects we felt fit better as a guard than being on the edge.” It helped that Mike McDaniel coached him at the Senior Bowl.
▪ Smith said undrafted rookie tight end Julian Hill, who played a lot against Denver, “did well with blocking and being in the right place at the right time. Very pleased. [He has] great attention for blocking, shows good route speed, everything we’re looking for.”
▪ Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said safety Jevon Holland “has a chance to be a special, special player in the NFL.”
▪ Fangio, on linebacker Jerome Baker: “He’s been playing pretty damn good. I would like to see more out of him. I think there’s more than we’ve been getting.”
▪ Fangio, on rookie cornerback Cam Smith, who isn’t getting defensive snaps: “Cam is getting better in practice. When you come down to the last couple of DBs [active for a game], special teams and versatility plays a part in that.”