Week 6 of the NFL season starts today, with the New York Giants visiting the Chicago Bears. However, this week's slate of games does not include the Miami Dolphins as the team reaches their bye week. While there are a lot of things for the Dolphins to work on during the week, things that need to be fixed if the team is going to have success over the remaining 11 weeks after the bye, there's also a need for the team to use this time to rest, relax, and get healthy.
The Dolphins have seen a rash of injuries as of late, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Those, of course, are headlined by All Pro defensive end Cameron Wake. The Miami pass rusher injured his knee in Week 3 versus the Atlanta Falcons, spraining the MCL. The injury then forced Wake out of the Week 4 game at the New Orleans Saints. This past week, against the Baltimore Ravens, Wake actually started the game, but he only played the first three defensive snaps before returning to the sideline. During, and after, the game, the team never issued an injury report about Wake, but, really, the only reason Wake would not be in the game was his knee.
However a big part of the Miami defense Wake is, he's only a small portion of the list of Miami players injured heading into the bye. Joining Wake are:
- Dimitri Patterson, cornerback - Patterson has actually been out almost the entire season at this point. The starting cornerback opposite Brent Grimes, Patterson has been dealing with a groin injury that just won't seem to go away. The Dolphins really need to get Patterson back to help out the secondary as the team heads into the AFC East portion of their schedule.
- Nolan Carroll, cornerback - Carroll is starting in the place of Patterson, and now he's hurt too. Carroll was injured during the Ravens game, when he went up to break up a pass and landed awkwardly on his right side. The team listed him as questionable to return with a ribs injury during the game, and he did actually come back into the game for two snaps before having to head back to the sidelines. If Patterson cannot get healthy, Carroll absolutely will be needed. Even if Patterson does return, having a healthy Carroll will allow the team to move Jimmy Wilson back to the position the coaches really want him playing, reserve safety.
- Dannell Ellerbe, linebacker - Coming into the game this past week, Ellerbe was listed as probable with a knee injury. Then, during the second quarter, Ellerbe had to leave the game after playing just 16 snaps with a shoulder injury - though he was able to recover the Ray Rice fumble. The Dolphins' starting middle linebacker has also had a chest/ribs injury so far this season, so this week may be the best timing possible for Ellerbe.
- Koa Misi, linebacker - The longest tenured starter of the Dolphins' linebacker corps is also injured, dealing with a shoulder problem. He was able to play 61% of the snaps this week, which is up for him from his season total of just 46% of the snaps, but that still means that Miami was without Ellerbe and Misi for a large chunk of the game.
- Jason Trusnik, linebacker/special teams - Trusnik was limited in practices leading into this past week's contest, but he was able to play 43 snaps on defense. While he was used a lot, thanks to the Ellerbe injury, Trusnik primary role on the team is on special teams, so resting the ribs injury that had him questionable before facing the Ravens is important this week.
- Jonathan Freeny, linebacker - The linebacker injuries continue with reserve Freeny, who was questionable for this week's game with a shoulder injury, but was in for nine snaps. In all, the Dolphins used seven different linebackers against the Ravens.
- Don Jones, safety/special teams - The Miami seventh round pick has become a big part of the team's special teams play, but was inactive against the Ravens thanks to an elbow injury. While he has yet to take a snap on defense, with the way the Dolphins have been hit by the injury bug this year, it might not be long before they are looking to him to contribute in more than just special teams coverage.
- Paul Soliai, defensive tackle - Soliai seems to be fully healthy, and was able to start and play 50 of 77 snaps on Sunday, but he is technically still on the injured list with a a knee injury, so the bye week, and two weeks of resting the knee, may be important for the big man.
Of course, not all the injuries for the Dolphins are on the defense, as wide receiver Brandon Gibson was questionable before the Ravens game with an ankle injury. However, he was able to play 47 snaps, of 81% of Miami's offensive plays, so it does not appear to be something that would keep him out of the game in Week 7 against the Buffalo Bills.
Obviously, since the Dolphins are on the bye this week, there will not be any updated injury reports for the team. The next time we will get an idea of how healthy Miami is, and how much the bye week helped, will be next Wednesday, when the team issues their first practice report for the Buffalo game. Until then, we just have to hope that the Dolphins come out of the bye a lot healthier than they went into it.
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