The Miami Dolphins are heading to Foxborough, and they’re packing some familiar faces along with them.
Miami, standing atop the AFC East through three weeks of September, checks in with four former New England Patriots in the 53-man fold entering Sunday. And two of whom were 1,400 miles away as recently this spring and summer.
But there are also a few ex-Dolphins to account for between the active roster, practice squad and injured reserve of New England.
Here’s a glance through the roster connections leading up to the 1 p.m. ET divisional kickoff at Gillette Stadium.
Brandon Bolden, running back – Undrafted out of Ole Miss in 2012, Bolden would go on to accrue 686 snaps on offense and 1,400 snaps on special teams over the course of his Patriots tenure. A “four-down player,” as Patriots head coach often described him, Bolden appeared in 83 games through his six regular seasons with New England. He tacked on 15 playoff games and a pair of Super Bowl rings, as well. But the longest-tenured Patriots running back was released during September’s cutdown for the second consecutive year. And this time, Bolden elected to go south, signing a one-year, $790,000 contract with the Dolphins. The 28-year-old has been in for 70 percent of the snaps in Miami’s kicking game thus far into 2018.
Danny Amendola, wide receiver – By way of the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams, Amendola signed a five-year pact with the Patriots in March 2013. A trio of restructures would arrive by 2017, but so would 57 career playoff receptions for 709 yards and six touchdowns, in addition to 106 yards on punt returns and another 213 on kick returns. “To me, he’s uncoverable,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said last fall. “You turn on the tape, he’s getting away from people no matter what the route, no matter who’s on him, no matter what’s called, leverage, distance – he’s just been so great for us ...” Amendola joined the Dolphins on a two-year, $12 million contract as free agency opened. He’s caught 11 of the 13 passes sent his direction for 100 yards to this point.
AJ Derby, tight end – The converted QB via Iowa, Coffeyville Community College and Arkansas was selected by New England in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. Derby spent his rookie season with the Patriots on injured reserve, but entered into four games in his second season before being traded to the Denver Broncos in exchange for pick No. 163 overall in the 2017 draft. That pick would eventually be redistributed for restricted free-agent running back Mike Gillislee. As for Derby, he would eventually be claimed off waivers by Miami. The tight end has caught two passes over the past two weeks for 35 yards and his third career touchdown.
Ted Larsen, guard – A Patriots sixth-round pick out of North Carolina State in 2010, Larsen was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of his inaugural NFL preseason. He has made additional stops with the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears and penned a three-year deal with the Dolphins in March 2017. Larsen has started 10 of his 11 appearances for Miami since then. The center-slash-guard has started 75 career games.
Chris Hogan, wide receiver – The nickname “7-Eleven” has been retired, but it had to start somewhere. And, as chronicled on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” six summers ago, that somewhere was Miami. Hogan signed with the Dolphins’ practice squad late in 2011 season, and after a four-catch preseason, returned for the initial week of the 2012 campaign. He’d move on to the Buffalo Bills and was signed by the Patriots as a restricted free agent in 2016. Hogan has caught 79 passes for 1,203 yards and 11 touchdowns in regular-season action for New England. The wideout has logged two 100-yard games through the Patriots’ last two playoff runs.
Eric Smith, offensive tackle – Smith, who signed to the Patriots’ practice squad after Labor Day weekend, originally entered the league as a Dolphins undrafted free agent in 2017. The Virginia product began his rookie year on Miami’s 53-man roster and returned to it after a stint on injured reserve, but did not make his regular-season debut. The Dolphins waived Smith ahead of the Sept. 1 cutdown deadline.
Ulrick John, offensive tackle – Residing on New England’s injured reserve after suffering a foot injury that required surgery in the preseason finale, John spent parts of two years with Miami. The 2014 Indianapolis Colts seventh-rounder was claimed by the Dolphins on Halloween 2015 and appeared in two contests. John began 2016 on the team’s practice squad before joining the Cardinals and later the Green Bay Packers. The Patriots signed the 26-year-old tackle this April.