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In defending new Dolphin Tyreek Hill, Patriots hope they’re not fishing for answers

The explosive Tyreek Hill, after six dazzling seasons in Kansas City, joined the Dolphins in a trade in March.Megan Briggs/Getty

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Tyreek Hill puts the hurry in the hurry-up offense.

It doesn’t matter what the situation is, the slick receiver stretches the field and stresses the defense with his absurd combination of quickness, acceleration, and speed.

After teaming up for countless thrills — and one Super Bowl championship — with former BFF Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City, Hill is now riding shotgun with southpaw Tua Tagovailoa in Miami.

Hill’s Dolphins debut comes Sunday, and though he’s no stranger to the Patriots, there’s plenty of uncertainty as to how he’ll fit into fledgling coach Mike McDaniel’s Miami system.


Few teams have a successful track record at slowing Hill, but the Patriots were able to keep him in check in the 2018 AFC Championship game with brilliant bracket coverage featuring a Jonathan Jones-Devin McCourty double-team. Hill had just one catch for 42 yards in that game.

The NFL is a game of adjustments, however, and what works once, twice, or three times might not work again.

“I would say this is pretty unique because now we’re going against a guy in a whole new offense,” McCourty said prior to Thursday’s practice at Palm Beach Atlantic University. “So it’s not as easy as throwing up the Kansas City film and saying, ‘Let’s do something similar to what we did before.’

“I think it’s going to be different. We’ve been trying to blend the preseason games with what San Fran [McDaniel’s previous stop] did and trying to say, ‘This guy could be in this role.’ But it’s hard to really tell and that’s what’s hard about Week 1 games.”

Hill can wreck a game in a flash, but he also could be used as a decoy, occupying defenders and allowing Tagovailoa’s other targets — including Cedrick Wilson, Jaylen Waddle, and Mike Gesicki — to exploit matchups and find open areas.


“New offense, new players over there,” said McCourty. “Not just Tyreek Hill, but Cedrick Wilson in the slot or outside. We don’t know how that’s all going to mix. We haven’t seen all those guys out there through the preseason.

“It’s going to be a lot of adjusting and figuring out, and hopefully we can have some success against not just Tyreek Hill but the whole offense.”

McCourty figures to play a sizable role when it comes to containing Hill.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The Patriots also can’t count on McDaniel just transferring his 49ers attack to the Dolphins. You have to customize your scheme to fit your personnel, not the other way around. While there’s benefit and knowledge to be gleaned by watching San Francisco’s tape, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

“There’s scheme stuff,” McCourty said. “But again, we don’t know how they’re going to do that. Like, Deebo Samuel is a very unique player. Who is Deebo Samuel in [Miami’s] offense? We don’t know. Who’s going to be the speed guy? Are they going to do more vertical things? I think that’s the thing.

“But we definitely know some of the move-the-pocket things, some of the things the San Francisco offense liked; I’m sure we’ll see some of that stuff. I don’t know what Mike McDaniel might not have liked that they did in San Francisco that we might not see here in Miami. So we’ll have to kind of figure that out as we go.”

Jones does figure to see plenty of Hill, given his speed and ability to flip his hips and stick with him as he has in the past. Jones has shadowed Hill while playing in the shadow of some of the league’s top corners.


“I would say Jon Jones doesn’t get a lot of credit on our team over the last few years with J.C. [Jackson] and Steph [Gilmore],” said McCourty. “He’s been a key part of our success, and I think his ability physically to run with Tyreek Hill as much as anybody can with him and go out there and compete against him, I think you pair that together with the game plans that we’ve had, been pretty good.”

Joneses are keeping up

Rookie cornerbacks Marcus Jones and Jack Jones are on track to make their debuts in Miami, and veteran Jalen Mills has been impressed with their progress since signing on the dotted line. “Oh man, it’s been night and day with those two guys,” Mills said. “From the first day of OTAs to the first day of camp to now, they’ve been just learning the ins and outs of the defenses, know where we’re weak and where we’re strong, and just going out there and playing fast, not hesitating and being who they are” … According to an ESPN report, the Patriots are signing right tackle Marcus Cannon to their practice squad. Cannon played for New England from 2011-20, winning three Super Bowls. He was traded in 2021 to the Texans, who released him in March … The Patriots again had their full 53-man roster present for practice Thursday. Practice squad linebacker Cameron McGrone was the only player missing. Jakobi Meyers (knee), Ty Montgomery (knee), and Isaiah Wynn (back) were limited for the second straight day. Safety Joshuah Bledsoe (groin) was a new addition. He also was limited … The Dolphins upgraded Waddle (quadriceps) and backs Myles Gaskin (neck) and Chase Edmonds (groin) to full participants … The Dolphins won their final six home games in 2021 and have taken three straight overall from the Patriots.


Jim McBride can be reached at Follow him @globejimmcbride.