Miami Coach Brian Flores hugs New England Coach Bill Belichick after a 43-0 New England win on Sept. 15, 2019. The teams play on Sunday in Miami. David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS

 

Dolphins Coach Brian Flores learned from the master.

When the former Patriots defensive assistant and play-caller was asked about Cam Newton, he wasn’t going to point out any of the quarterback’s shortcomings.

Naturally, Flores made Newton sound like NFL MVP Newton, as opposed to the struggling version that’s been on display for much of the season. But from Flores’ view, why incite a team that’s all but out of the playoffs, when his own team has so much at stake?

The Dolphins were able to pull off an upset the final week of the season in Foxborough last year that had tremendous playoff implications for the Patriots. No way he’s going to slight Newton in any way and rile up the Pats, who are all but mathematically eliminated from postseason play.

“I think he’s a very good player in this league,” Flores said of Newton on a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday. “He does a good job extending plays. His ability to scramble is something you always have to take into consideration on every snap. I think he’s a leader. I think he’s a problem.”

In Week 1, Newton was a problem. The Patriots beat the Dolphins in the season opener in Foxborough, but with no film from preseason games, Flores and the Dolphins didn’t quite know how the offense would work around Newton, who rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns in that game.

The Dolphins will be better prepared this time. They’ll try to make Newton throw the football, an area that’s been up and down all year, with the Patriots ranked 21st in the league in passing.

“We’ve got to do a good job from a pass-rush standpoint, trying to keep him in the pocket and not let him extend plays and allow his receivers more time to get open,” said Flores. “So, good player, good team, good run game, good defense, good special teams. We’re going to have to play well this week.”

The Dolphins, who are 8-5 and currently one of the wild card entries, can’t afford to have the Patriots beat them again if they want to advance to the postseason.

THE PATRIOTS have been able to activate Julian Edelman off injured reserve for almost a month now. But because of his ongoing rehab from knee surgery and a brief stay on the COVID-19 reserve list, he’s remained sidelined.

“I’d put him in the day-to-day category,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said. “But when he’s ready, we’ll start him. If he’s not ready, then he’ll keep working and we’ll wait until he’s ready.”

Edelman was placed on injured reserve on Halloween. The 34-year-old wideout has been battling a chronic knee issue that severely limited his production in the weeks leading up to surgery.

Ten days ago, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Edelman was still “a couple weeks away” from playing. If Edelman is unable to play this weekend, the Patriots’s next game will be Dec. 28, at home against Buffalo.

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