Well, that escalated quickly. The Miami Dolphins went from a team that appeared to be getting healthy in the middle of the season to a team that is suddenly battling injuries at key positions. Before last weekend's game against the Green Bay Packers, the Dolphins were welcoming back players like guard Mike Pouncey, running back Knowshon Moreno, and linebacker Koa Misi. Everything seemed to say the bye week was perfectly placed for Miami, and they would finally be able to put together a full team.
It did not last long. At the end of the first half, left tackle Branden Albert was forced to leave the game for a play with an elbow injury. While he only missed the one snap, returning to start the second half, the injury may linger longer than just the halftime break last week.
"We'll see," Albert told the Palm Beach Post's Andrew Abramson after Tuesday's practice when asked if he would be availble for this weekend's game against the Chicago Bears. "The elbow's fine, it's something I'm going to have to work through. I'm here to fight for this team and that's what I'm going to do."
If Albert is not able to fight through the injury, rookie right tackle Ja'Wuan Jamesmay be asked to switch to quarterback Ryan Tannehill's blindside, a move he made in the one snap Albert missed. Abramson writes that James told him he was preparing to play left tackle for the second half of the game as well, until Albert was ready to return.
Albert was working on the sidelines of Tuesday's practice, along with running back Lamar Miller, safety/cornerback Jimmy Wilson, and center Samson Satele. That is in addition to running back Knowshon Moreno being placed on injured reserve Tuesday morning. Head coach Joe Philbin stated in his post game press conference that no one, including Moreno, the trainers, and himself, realized how severe the knee injury was until MRI results returned Monday afternoon.
If Satele is unavailable for Sunday's game, Pouncey would slide back to center, the position he has played every game of his career until last weekend, a position in which he was selected as a Pro Bowler last year. Shelley Smith, Dallas Thomas, or Billy Turnerwould likely be moved into the right guard position to replace Pouncey, depending on how the team handles the potential need to fill the right tackle position as well.
Wilson being unavailable would bring Will Davisback into the team's nickel cornerback position as the most likely solution, though putting Cortland Finnegan inside and letting Jamar Taylorplay on the outside could be an option as well. Either way, the Dolphins are going up against one of the top receiving corps in the country this week, with the Bears sporting Brandan Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, meaning they will need as many of their defensive backs healthy and available as possible.
The most concerning is, of course, Miller. If he is not available, the Dolphins would be without their top two running backs. It is early in the week, and Miller may be fully available by Sunday, but if not, the team currently only has Daniel Thomas and Damien Williams on the roster behind him.
The Dolphins will issue their first official injury report of the week Wednesday afternoon.