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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Perhaps this week will be less eventful for Robert Hunt.
To recap, here’s what last week’s schedule included for the Miami right guard: two games over five days in which he was on the field for all 144 of the Dolphins’ offensive snaps, a getting-flipped-over touchdown that didn’t count, and finally some rest and relaxation provided in the form of a quick trip to the Everglades.
Where he went swimming.
With an alligator.
It wasn’t planned. It just sort of happened.
“I just wanted to say I did it,” Hunt said. “Now I can say I did it, so when I do say I did it, you’ll say, ‘Damn, what did you do?’ People don’t expect that.”
The Dolphins wouldn’t mind keeping this run of defying expectations going, either. Winners of two straight to get to 3-7, Miami heads north this week to take on the New York Jets (2-7) with hopes of keeping whatever realistic chance it has at a second-half turnaround intact.
“I think the Jets have a good, young team,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “I think they play hard. I think they’ve beat some very good teams and we’re going to have to play well.”
The Dolphins are coming off a Thursday night win over Baltimore, meaning they went into the three-day mini-break in a very good mood after two wins in less than a week. Miami snapped a seven-game slide by topping Houston on Nov. 7.
Flores spent the down time with the family, recharging his battery. Defensive tackle Zach Sieler and his fiancé headed to a place they have a couple of hours north of Miami in Sebring, Florida, to spend a couple of days playing with their dogs “in the middle of nowhere.” And Hunt wasn’t intending to swim with a gator, but realized he was about 10 yards from one while splashing around.
“I haven’t done anything like that, I’ll tell you that,” quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said.
The extent of his adventure-seeking these days is trying to play quarterback in the NFL with a banged-up finger on his left, or throwing, hand. But Tagovailoa is the starter yet again, deemed healthy enough to be the first-stringer over Jacoby Brissett for the first time in three games even though his finger hasn’t fully healed.
Tagovailoa replaced Brissett in the second half of the win over the Ravens, after Brissett — who was able to practice Wednesday — had to leave with a knee injury.
“I don’t think there are going to be any limitations for this Sunday with the finger,” Tagovailoa said. “I think it feels good at this point. We should be good.”
The Dolphins are beginning a four-game stretch of teams that, as of now, don’t have winning records. They play the Jets twice in that span, Carolina (5-5) visits Miami on Nov. 28 and the New York Giants (3-6) visit on Dec. 5.
Flores’ Miami teams have gone a combined 4-17 in games played in September and October. They’re 14-7 in games played in November, December and January.
That doesn’t count Hunt’s brush with danger over the weekend. Turns out, even he has limits. He saw the gator and decided it might not be super wise to re-engage.
“I wasn’t going back in,” Hunt said. “Once he ducked his head underwater, I was done.”
His swim was over. The Dolphins' season — and hope — continues.
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Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press