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Miami Dolphins Tight End Charles Clay Says He Definitely Will Play in Season Opener

Details are finally emerging about Clay's timetable to return, and it's mostly good news

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the Miami Dolphins' starting tight end Charles Clay suffered an injury in the Dolphins' scrimmage held in early August, the team has been tight-lipped about both the nature of his injury and the timetable for return. It was only in the past week that a report was published about the specific type of injury. According to the Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly, Clay underwent a simple arthroscopic surgery on his knee early this offseason as a followup procedure ("clean up") to the surgery previously performed on that same knee over a year ago. Clay was medically cleared to practice, but during the scrimmage, he suffered a re-aggravation of his scoped knee. At the time of Kelly's report, Clay was able to walk with the assistance of a knee brace, but he couldn't run at full speed due to the swelling and pain.

Since then, while Joe Philbin has publicly said that Clay has no timetable to return, other beat reporters have found out more information. Specifically, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported that the Dolphins are hopeful  that Clay will be able to become a more involved participant in practice by the end of this week. Up until now, Clay has only been catching passes from the jugs machine while standing still to limit the strain on his knee. In addition, the Palm Beach Post's Andrew Abramson talked to Clay after the preseason game on Saturday, and Clay said that while he's not sure he'll be a full participant in practice this week, he's regained the ability to run without pain. Last but not least, Clay said there was "no possibility" that he'd miss the regular season opener.

Normally, it would be wise to take a player's prediction about his timetable to return with a grain of salt. However, the fact that the Dolphins front office thinks Clay should be able to practice this week makes it more likely that he is indeed improving quickly enough for him to be optimistic about a return to action before the regular season starts. It was very unlikely that Clay would not get another surgery performed unless the doctors were confident Clay could recover in time without another procedure, and the optimism from both Clay and members of the front office suggest he's improving on schedule. It's unlikely he'll make much more than a token appearance in pre-season, if he plays at all, but Clay is now able to run freely, and he has 3 weeks to steadily get himself back into football shape before the season opener against the Patriots.