Five days ago, Dolphins fans received great news about running back Knowshon Moreno. Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel reported that Moreno's elbow-brace had been removed, which was a sign that Moreno's dislocated elbow had become stable enough to no longer require additional support. This raised hopes Moreno would be able to return to action closer to the 4-week mark of the originally reported 4-8 week recovery period, which would allow him to play against the Green Bay Packers in week 6 after suffering his injury in week 2 against the Buffalo Bills.
Then earlier today came the news from the Palm Beach Post's Andrew Abramson that Moreno had told reporters that he's a month away from being cleared to play. To quote Moreno:
"I probably got like four more weeks... About four more weeks and I'll be good."
If those comments are to be taken at face value, then Moreno is nowhere near returning to live-game action. However, there may be a reason to not interpret those comments literally. Moreno has quickly become a respected and well-liked member of the Dolphins due to his hard running and emotional leadership, both of which are greatly appreciated on a team that is often criticized appearing flat and emotionless. In addition to that positive perception, he's also developed a reputation for being a bit odd in terms of his sense of humor and behavior...
From Omar Kelly:
I keep hearing that Knowshon Moreno is a little weird, but the more you interact with him the more you realize....he's a little out there.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) September 7, 2014
From Dolphins rookie tight end Arthur Lynch, who is on injured reserve due to a back injury and like Moreno is an University of Georgia alumnus:
Kickin' it with my brother, teammate, & fellow Bulldog @knowshonmoreno - Great player, better person. Reminds me of @TG3II a bit, weird...— Arthur Lynch (@alynch1788) September 19, 2014
Other Dolphins players including Ryan Tannehill have said that sometimes Moreno is tough to read. With that in mind, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has potentially provided some much needed context to Moreno's comments about being a month away from making his return. To quote Jackson:
When Moreno told me that yesterday, I concluded his tongue was planted firmly in cheek for several reasons: 1) A Dolphins public relations official who heard the exchange believed he was messing around and not being serious at all. 2) He insisted he was in horrible pain, which clearly isn't the case. 3) He had firmly told reporters previously that he didn't want to discuss a timetable.
In other words, it's factually true that Moreno told reporters that he was out 4 more weeks due to being in "horrible pain." Still, if Jackson's report is correct, Moreno's comments were a joking response to repeated questions about his injury. Injured Dolphins players have been instructed by head coach Joe Philbin to not discuss a timetable for return when talking to reporters, which led to a funny exchange a couple of weeks ago when linebacker Koa Misi was asked by a reporter if he was in pain:
Reporter to Koa Misi: Are you pain free? Misi: "I don't know you'll have to ask coach Philbin."— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) September 16, 2014
Misi was so committed to following Philbin's rules that he claimed to not know whether or not he was feeling any pain. That's a guy who knows how to follow orders! Similar to that situation, Moreno in this case was being asked questions about his injury that he wasn't "allowed" to truthfully answer, so he probably thought it would be funny to suddenly give a specific timetable after repeatedly refusing to give a timetable earlier. Unfortunately, it appears that not all of the reporters "got the joke."
Jackson adds in his report that behind the scenes, Moreno has told teammates that he hopes to make his return in week 6 against the Packers, which has always been the optimistic yet feasible target date for his return. Coach Philbin refuses to publicly discuss player injuries, but a Dolphins team official has privately told Jackson that the team fully expects Moreno to make his return some time in the month of October, with the week 7 game against the Chicago Bears being a very realistic return date.
The future is never certain with injuries, and it's entirely possible that Moreno may ultimately end up missing close to a full 8 weeks as his public comments today suggested. Still, behind the scenes, there's optimism from both Moreno and the Dolphins front office that we'll be seeing Moreno make his return in the next game (after the bye) or perhaps the game after that.