Early in Sunday's contest against the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne turned to hand the ball to running back Lex Hilliard on a draw. The problem was, Hilliard didn't know it was a handoff to him. Henne turned, trying to make a play, searching for a hole. In the end, he ended up left shoulder first into the ground, leaving the game and not returning.
MRI and X-rays have now shown Henne's shoulder to be separated. The good news is, for the right handed Henne, it's a non-throwing shoulder injury. The bad news is, initial reports show the shoulder needing season-ending surgery. For a quarerback looking to establish himself as a starting caliber player, playing in his final year of his rookie contract, the news is even worse for Henne.
If this is, in fact, the end of the Henne/Miami pairing, the quarterback will be the third of the last five quarterbacks for the Dolphins to leave his last game injured. Last year, Chad Pennington injured his shoulder, and is currently taking a year off from the game, before deciding if he will return in 2012.
Trent Green started five games for the Dolphins in 2007, before a concussion put him on the sidelines for the remainder of the year. Green eventually returned to St. Louis, where he had played in 2000, appearing in two games and starting an additional one.
Tyler Thigpen, who started one game last year, and the failed John Beck draft choice in 2007, serve as the other two quarterbacks in the period.
The Dolphins have sent Henne's film work to a specialist, hoping to get a favorable second opinion, and avoid him going under the knife. But, whenever a specialist is needed, it's never a good thing.
Henne, meanwhile, has been adament that he will not miss playing time this season, stating Sunday after the game, "I can rip this arm off, and as long as I can post the ball up, I think I can play."
On when asking if he would explain more about Henne's injury at Tuesday's press conference, head coach Tony Sparano stated, "No and I won't. I mean we don't have to give injury report out till Jet week. Right now I'm not going to talk about that."
Sparano was then asked if backup quarterback Matt Moore was, in fact, the starter. Sparano replied, "Right now because Matt Moore is the one that's practicing so we got to get Matt Moore ready to go and we have to look at contingencies obviously at this point in time but that's all we're doing. We're going to continue to work Matt Moore."
For a team whose fan base has been clamoring for a franchise quarterback since the 1999 retiring of Dan Marino, the loss of Henne for the season could be a blessing in disguise (or, maybe not even in disguise). With the loss of Henne, the odds of the Dolphins completely collapsing and earning the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft will increase. That position is expected to result in the selection of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, a highly touted prospect expected to be a true franchise player.
However, for the 2011 season, Miami may need to go out and find a backup for Moore, even while holding out hope for Henne. When asked if the Dolphins needed to get that new quarterback, Coach Sparano replied, "We'll see. We'll see how it goes here." Reports, meanwhile, have come out that Miami has already begum the search for a second string QB to come in to Miami.
NFL.com reported on Tuesday that the Dolphins had entered negotiations with both David Garrard and Jake Delhomme, but those talks had broken down. Garrard was expected to be contacted later in the week, but the Dolphins were not willing to guarantee any base salary to whomever they bring in, while both Garrard and Delhomme were looking for security that the job would be for more than just a week or two.
Sparano did comment on Moore's performance in Tuesday's practice, stating, "He looked good. He did a good job out there. We'll probably, certainly the most reps he's taken in a while. Did a good job and had good recall, good control of the offense. There's no install today, just old playbook stuff."
Now, Miami's 2011 season is up to Moore and that "good job" on the practice field has to turn in to a good performance on the game field in two weeks against division rival New York Jets. Otherwise, in the mass turnover that's coming to Miami following the season, the 2010 NFL Draft's top overall pick will have been made with 6:03 left to go in the first quarter on Sunday, September 2nd.