The Miami Dolphins head into Sunday’s Week 12 game against the San Francisco 49ers with some big questions surrounding their offensive line. Miami has a five-game winning streak to try to extend, but might be doing it without three of their five starting offensive linemen.
Center Mike Pouncey, who re-aggravated a chronic hip injury, has been ruled out of the game. He has not been ruled out of returning this season, but the Dolphins will be using Anthony Steen at center as long as there is a risk for long-term injury to Pouncey. The team was expected, during their 11-day trip to southern California to face the San Diego Chargers in Week 10 and the Los Angeles Rams in Week 11, to seek a specialist to look at Pouncey’s hips and try to find the root cause for the repeated injuries.
Left tackle Branden Albert is listed as doubtful for this week as he continues to rehab from a dislocated wrist he suffered against the Chargers. Albert popped the wrist back into place during the game, returning with a cast on the arm after missing just 11 snaps. After the game, however, he had to undergo surgery to repair ligaments in the wrist and missed the Rams game. Albert has said he hopes to be ready for this week’s game, but the team is waiting for swelling to go down in the wrist before deciding if he will be available.
Neither Pouncey nor Albert practiced this week. Head coach Adam Gase said this week that he is not concerned about Albert playing in a game without practicing during the week.
The third offensive lineman who could miss the game is rookie left guard Laremy Tunsil, who would be the likely fill-in for Albert at left tackle, who had to leave last week’s game against the Rams with a shoulder injury. Tunsil is officially listed as questionable, but Gase described his availability for Sunday as going “down to the wire.” The team is trying to figure out if Tunsil will be able to play with whatever level of pain he has as he moves and absorbs contact. Tunsil was limited in all three days of practice leading up to Friday’s injury report.
If all three players are unavailable, Miami’s offensive line from center to left tackle will likely be Steen, Kraig Urbik, and Sam Young.
Other concerns on the injury report for Miami include wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who spent the week in a red, no-contact jersey trying to protect a shoulder issue. He is expected to play, but it is a concern, especially with how violently Landry seems to search out contact. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was limited in practice the first two days, but was able to be a full go in Friday’s practice as he deals with a sore knee. Wide receiver Kenny Stills is dealing with a calf injury that had him limited all week, as was defensive end Mario Williams, who has an ankle problem.
All those players are officially questionable for Sunday, along with running back Kenyan Drake (knee), linebacker Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand), and linebacker Spencer Paysinger (neck).
The Dolphins listed cornerback Xavien Howard as doubtful for Sunday, though he is expected to be out of the game. Howard underwent knee surgery earlier in the season and has been rehabilitating the joint since. He completed individual drills during the week, but has not yet been a full participant in practice. His original timeline indicated a December return for the rookie, which still seems to be the case.
The 49ers’ injury report listed four players as questionable for Sunday. Defensive tackle Quinton Dial is dealing with neck and knee issues, linebacker Aaron Lynch has an ankle injury, wide receiver Torrey Smith is dealing with a shoulder problem, and cornerback Jimmie Ward has a concussion.