As the Miami Dolphins prepare for their second straight AFC East contest, in just the second week of the NFL season, they are hoping a different streak of games does not come to an end. Defensive tackle Randy Starks, who has never missed a game since joining the Dolphins in 2008, could find himself sitting out this week's game due to turf toe.
The fact that a 305-pound defensive lineman could be forced to miss a game due to a toe injury, after 97 straight appearances, does seem unfortunate, but turf toe only gets worse as players attempt to play through it. Essentially, turf toe is a sprain of the ligaments in the big toe, caused by either repeated jamming of the toe, or by pushing off the big toe forcefully when running. The problem comes when the weight of the body is transferred from the heel to the ball of the foot, then the toe is used to push off to complete a step. If the toe is flat on the ground when the rest of the foot tries to lift, or if a player is tackled with his toe flat on the ground, it leads to a hyper-extension of the ligaments around the join at the base of the big toe, spraining those ligaments, resulting in "turf toe" (so named because it is a common ailment of football players who play on artificial turf).
Rookie guard Billy Turner is battling through a similar turf toe injury, and has been shut down throughout this week, after an extremely limited week last week, in an effort to let the injury heal. For Starks, shutting him down for a week or two may be the only way to allow his toe to heal. After being held out of practice on Wednesday, Starks, who has been using a walking boot to try to provide as much rest as possible to the toe, was limited in Thursday's workout.
The last time Starks was not on the field on game day was in 2007, when he was a member of the Tennessee Titans. He missed two games that year, and two games in 2004 as a rookie. He has played 157 totals games in his career.
He was joined by safety Walt Aikens (hand), tight end Charles Clay (knee), running back Knowshon Moreno (shoulder), defensive end Derrick Shelby (knee), tight end Dion Sims (neck), wide receiver Mike Wallace (hamstring), and linebacker Philip Wheeler (thumb) on the limited list. Also making the limited list for Miami Thursday was linebacker Chris McCain, who missed the last two days of practice with an illness.
Koa Misi, the team's starting middle linebacker, and Turner both did not practice. Misi was forced out of last week's game against the New England Patriots early in the first half with an ankle injury. Defensive end Terrence Fede (knee), center Mike Pouncey (hip), and linebacker Jordan Tripp (chest) were all ruled out of the game for Miami on Wednesday's report. All three also were out of the Patriots contest.
Looking at the Dolphins' opponents this weekend, the Buffalo Bills, linebacker Keith Rivers did not practice on Thursday with a groin injury. Safety Jonathan Meeks (neck), tight end Lee Smith (toe), and safety Aaron Williams (concussion) were all limited in Thursday's workout; Smith had been listed with Rivers on the did not participate in practice list on Wednesday.
The Bills also listed cornerback Stephon Gilmore (groin), wide receiver Chris Hogan (ankle), and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (ribs) on the injury report, though all three were full participants in practice. Hogan, the former Dolphins receiver known as 7-11 during the team's 2012 appearance on Hard Knocks, was a new addition to the report on Thursday.