Dolphins' young safeties ready to step up if Reshad Jones can't play

DAVIE, Fla. -- A case can be made that no defensive player was better for the Miami Dolphins in Week 1 than starting safety Reshad Jones.

In an uneven performance by Miami (1-0) against the Washington Redskins (0-1), Jones was the steady force on defense who was all over the field. He led the team lead in tackles with 12 and a few were bone-jarring hits that set a tone for Miami’s defense. Jones also had a tackle for loss and one pass defensed.

But in the process Jones suffered a hamstring injury that makes his status uncertain for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1). That means backup safety Michael Thomas might need to fill in for Jones, who is one of the leaders in the secondary.

Thomas subbed for Jones late in the fourth quarter to help close out the Redskins and might be needed for a full game Sunday in Jacksonville.

"We’re prepared for it and we’re confident," Thomas said Thursday. "We practice situations like that all the time every week. So just getting the opportunity and showing I can get the job done, my coaches, it gives them confidence and it gives my team confidence."

Considering that Louis Delmas suffered a torn ACL in training camp and is out for the season, Miami could be without both of its projected starting safeties Sunday in Jacksonville. Walt Aikens, who had three tackles in Week 1, has done a nice job replacing Delmas in preseason and last week during the regular-season opener.

The second-year player is a converted cornerback in college who transitioned to safety in the NFL. Aikens is inexperienced, but appears more comfortable in Year 2 and is getting more playing time.

"He has a few things that we need to clean up, but I think overall he showed some good range in the backend and I thought played with some poise and confidence back there that we’re hoping now we can build on," Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said of Aikens.

Aikens was part of Miami’s secondary that did a good job holding the Redskins scoreless in the second half. He spent a lot of time this summer playing with Thomas on the second-team defense in training camp before Delmas went down. The two didn't miss a beat when paired together last week in the fourth quarter against Washington.

"Me and Mike, we’re on the same page," Aikens said. "We all communicate. That’s how all our safeties are. We’re comfortable with whoever is in the lineup."