The Miami Dolphins have been battling through offensive line injuries the last few weeks, with three of the team’s five starters sidelined last week against the San Francisco 49ers. Early this week, it appears at least two of those three could be making enough progress to at least make playing this weekend a possibility as left tackle Branden Albert and left guard Laremy Tunsil returned to practice.
“We’re so early in the evaluation stage as far as actually seeing these guys take reps in practice,” head coach Adam Gase told the Baltimore media this week during a conference call when asked about the offensive line’s health. “It’s still kind of up in the air for me.”
The Dolphins will play the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
“Well, we were able to have (Albert and Tunsil) out there today, as far as getting them into individual and kind of seeing where we’re at as far as how they feel,” added later in the day during his post-practice press conference. “It looks better for us than it did last week. Last week, we never had either one of those two guys even be able to take a rep in real practice. ‘B.A.’ (Branden Albert) didn’t even suit up for individuals. Just getting those two guys out there, at least it gives us an opportunity that we could have some guys back; but it’s still … It’s Wednesday. We’ve just got to kind of see how our process goes.”
The bad news, though not unexpected, was the continued non-practicing from Mike Pouncey. The Pro Bowl center is dealing with a hip injury and has been sidelined for the last two games.
The Dolphins could use all three players back, especially this week, but should be happy if both Albert and Tunsil are able to play. The Ravens are currently the number one rush defense in the league, and Miami will need the establish the run to take some of the pressure off quarterback Ryan Tannehill during the game.
Along with Tunsil and Albert, the Dolphins’ first injury report of the week indicated right guard Jermon Bushrod was limited with a calf injury while cornerback Xavien Howard, who has been rehabbing following knee surgery in October, was also a limited participant in practice. Howard had surgery on the same knee in June and was forced to miss training camp and the preseason.
Miami’s “did not practice” list included Pouncey, running back Kenyan Drake (knee), linebacker Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand), defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (back), wide and receiver DeVante Parker (back). Parker, who has seen his production in the offense increase dramatically over the last few weeks after he fully recovered from a hamstring issue, was injured in the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week when he jumped for a pass and came down awkwardly on his tailbone.
“He’s just stiff right now and we’ve just got to see if he can loosen up a little bit as we go through the week,” Gase said of Parker. “(We’ll) see if it gets better. Obviously we would not put him out there unless we felt like he could contribute or be effective.”
Parker described the injury as “nothing” after the game last week, but was wearing a brace for his back in the locker room.
The Ravens’ side of the first injury report for the week included cornerback Jimmy Smith (back) returning as a full participant in practice. The team saw wide receiver Kamar Aiken (thigh), tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh), guard Alex Lewis (ankle), running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh), and guard Marhsal Yanda (shoulder) all not participate in the workout.