The 10-3 New England Patriots and the 7-6 Miami Dolphins will meet at Gillette Stadium at 1 p.m. on Sunday. And for the first time since Miami’s 33-20 victory over New England at Sun Life Stadium in Week 1, the familiar faces between the two sides will also meet again.
Here is a closer look at the personnel ties that connect New England and Miami heading into Week 15.
Don Jones, Safety: The 250th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, Jones spent his rookie season with the Dolphins and went on to lead the team with 11 special-teams tackles along with two forced fumbles over 16 games. Yet on Sept. 1, Jones was waived by Miami and claimed by New England. The 24-year-old Arkansas State product proceeded to play in nine games for the Patriots this season, recording six tackles before being waived and claimed by the team that drafted him on Nov. 28. Jones notched two tackles in his first game back with Miami on Dec. 1.
Jonathan Freeny, Linebacker: Before Freeny joined the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie in 2011, the 6-foot-2, 254-pound linebacker was a member of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for four seasons. Freeny finished his career in Piscataway, N.J., with 93 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, one forced fumble, four fumble recoveries and an interception over 46 collegiate appearances. And he finished having spent three seasons alongside future Patriots cornerback-turned-safety Devin McCourty, as well as two alongside future Patriots safety Duron Harmon, cornerback Logan Ryan and converted wideout Tim Wright. Freeny has netted 13 tackles and one sack over 10 games with the Dolphins in 2014.
Harold Hoskins, Tight End: A fullback, H-back and tight end for the Marshall Thundering Herd, “Gator” Hoskins ultimately played 23 games in a offense that also showcased eventual Patriots second-round wideout Aaron Dobson. And while Dobson ultimately caught 106 passes for 1,347 yards and 15 touchdowns between 2011 and 2012, Hoskins managed to tally 49 catches for 497 yards and 13 touchdowns over that two-year span as well. He tacked on another 50 catches for 821 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior in 2013 before going undrafted in May of 2014. Hoskins has caught three passes for 21 yards as a rookie this season, while Dobson caught three for 38 before being placed on injured reserve.
Koa Misi, Linebacker: A college defensive end for the Utah Utes, the 6-foot-3, 252-pound Misi played 24 games next to current Patriots defensive tackle Sealver Siliga. Misi went on to be selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft, while Siliga went undrafted in 2011. And this season, the 27-year-old Misi has collected 56 tackles and one sack over nine games.
Derrick Shelby, Defensive End: Misi and Siliga made their way to the NFL level, but so did 6-foot-2, 282-pound Utah defensive end Derrick Shelby. Shelby carved a spot with the Dolphins in 2012 after going undrafted following a redshirt senior season that consisted of 55 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and 13 starts in 2011. Now in his third year with Miami, Shelby has totaled 21 tackles and three sacks in eight games this campaign.
A.J. Francis, Defensive Tackle: After recording 42 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and three blocked kicks as a senior, Francis joined fellow Terrapins defensive tackle Joe Vellano in New England after being claimed off waivers from Miami on Sept. 1, 2013. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound undrafted rookie would spent over two months on the team’s practice squad before the Dolphins added him to the 53-man roster on Nov. 27, 2013. Francis has remained with Miami through 2014, but was placed on injured reserve during the Aug. 27 cutdown to 75 players.
Arthur Lynch, Tight End: The rookie tight end now resides with Francis on Miami’s injured reserve, yet he once resided in Dartmouth, Mass., where he posted 16 catches for 249 yards and three touchdowns as a Dartmouth High School senior. From there, Lynch went on to play four seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs, earning first-team All-SEC honors in 2013 before becoming a Dolphins fifth-round pick in 2014.
McCleod Bethel-Thompson, Quarterback: Bethel-Thompson has been a member of San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League and the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the now-curtailed United Football League, but the former undrafted free agent has also been a member of six different NFL teams, including the Patriots and the Dolphins. The quarterback was signed to Miami’s practice squad during the 2011 season, then signed to New England’s practice squad twice during early portion of the 2014 season. And on Oct. 15, the 26-year-old returned to Miami’s once again.
Jonas Gray, Running Back: Not long ago, Patriots running back Jonas Gray was in training camp with the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie. Yet after knee injuries cut his senior year at Notre Dame short, the 5-foot-10, 225-pound rusher was placed on Miami’s physically unable to perform list in 2012 and was cut in 2013. Gray went on to join the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad before joining New England as a reserve-futures signing on Jan. 10, 2014. The 24-year-old has since played in his first six NFL regular-season games, tallying 345 yards and four touchdowns on 72 carries.
Brian Tyms, Wide Receiver: Before Tyms arrived in New England this past July, made his way to the Cleveland Browns after stints with the Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers. The 6-foot-3, 204-pound receiver was signed off San Francisco’s practice squad in September of 2012, and while he did not play in a game with Miami for the rest of that season, he did travel to Foxborough for the team’s Week 17 meeting. Tyms has caught one pass for 43 yards and a touchdown for the Patriots this season.
Rob Ninkovich, Defensive End: Ninkovich was claimed off waivers by Miami in September of 2007 and went on to play in four games for the Dolphins that season, recording two tackles as a reserve defensive end. The former Purdue Boilermaker and New Orleans Saint converted to outside linebacker leading into the 2008 season, spending much of that campaign on Miami’s practice squad before returning to the Saints that December. But Ninkovich was released the following summer as New Orleans signed a long snapper to fill his place. He’s since found a home with the Patriots for the last six seasons.