The Miami Dolphins will be forced to shuffle their offensive line on Sunday when they face the Buffalo Bills after ruling center Daniel Kilgore out of the game with a knee injury. Miami is expected to start Evan Boehm at center in what will be the sixth different offensive line combination the team has used this year - in just six games.
Miami’s offensive line had been one of the biggest areas of concern heading into the season and now injuries are constantly leading to shuffling of players.
“I feel good about Boehm,” head coach Brian Flores said when asked about the offensive line changes for this week and facing a strong defensive front like Buffalo’s. “Boehm, (Michael) Deiter, those guys inside – they work well together. As far as identifying protection and identifying Mike points and where it’s coming from, I feel good about it. With that said, Buffalo does a lot. They could bring the weak safety, they could bring the star, they could bring the strong safety, they could bring the Mike, they can stunt the line. They do pretty much everything, so it’ll be hard to be 100 percent.”
The offensive line is not the only position that will see some shuffling. Reshad Jones, the team’s two-time Pro Bowl strong safety, will miss the game with a chest injury. Earlier in the season, Jones missing playing time, but the Dolphins could cover for him with Minkah Fitzpatrick. With Fitzpatrick now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers following a trade, the Dolphins are expected to utilizing multiple players to replace Jones.
“We’ve got a few guys who have played the safety-type of roles – Bobby (McCain) obviously, (Jomal) Wiltz has played in some safety roles,” Flores said of the team’s plan at safety. “(Steven) Parker. (Eric) Rowe – he’s even played in some safety-type of roles. Walt Aikens obviously – he’s Reshad’s backup. We’ve had a few different guys. Reshad is a really good player. He plays a lot of different positions for us. It’s kind of ‘replace Reshad by committee’ in a lot of ways.”
Miami also ruled out defensive end Avery Moss with an ankle injury, which could lead to an increase in playing time for Charles Harris, who has quickly disappeared from the team’s plans over the last two weeks.
The Dolphins listed cornerback Xavien Howard and wide receiver Jakeem Grant as questionable for Sunday. Howard has been dealing with a knee injury while Grant has a hamstring issue. Both players were limited in practice all week.
“He’s doing everything he can to get back,” Flores said of Howard. “I feel like I say that every day and it’s something that he tells me every day. Treatment, rehab – we can get into cryos and ARTs (active release techniques) and massages – he’s doing everything possible to get back. His desire to play is high and hopefully we’ll get him out there.”
Flores recognized the risk of rushing Howard back from his injury, potentially getting him on the field too early and seeing a re-aggrevation of the problem. He explained, “With any injury, we take that into consideration. ‘X’, Kilgore, Reshad – every injury, that comes into consideration. We’ll do what’s best for the player always and there’s always a long vision here. It’s a long season. We’ve got a lot of games left to play, so to have – we wouldn’t want to have a setback that would lead to instead of one game, it could be seven or eight games. You never want to do that, so that’s always the case any time we bring a guy back; and the idea is that he’ll be back for the long haul when he is back.”
The Bills listed three players as questionable for the game: cornerback Taron Johnson, with a knee injury; linebacker Matt Milano, with a hamstring injury; and linebacker Corey Thompson, with an ankle injury.
The Dolphins and Bills kickoff at 1pm ET on Sunday.