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Miami Dolphins Without Key Starters Against Raiders

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By Jeremiah Thermidor

Miami is already struggling on offense, lacking high quality receivers required to compete in the AFC, while starting a rookie quarterback who needs a lot of work.

Now, the Dolphins have been dealt a blow to their ground game as second-year tailback Daniel Thomas has been ruled out of this weekend’s matchup against the Raiders with a concussion. Thomas suffered the concussion in last Sunday’s loss to the Texans when he collided with a player while simultaneously fumbling the ball during the second quarter. He did not return to the game.

Thomas did, however, pass a concussion test this week but evidently the Dolphins wanted to take precautions and sit him out in order to prevent further damage.

With Thomas out, the Dolphins will lean on rookie fullback Jorvorskie Lane and rookie running back Lamar Miller to carry some of the load.

“I think Lane’s kind of a luxury,” Miami coach Joe Philbin said on Thursday. “He’s a guy that can do a lot of things. You’ve seen him catch the ball and make guys miss and you’ve seen the balance and you’ve seen an ability to fall forward.”

As for Miller, this could be a breakout game for him if he’s able to capitalize on this opportunity.

The 21-year-old, who was drafted by the Dolphins as a fourth-round pick in April, rushed for 1,918 yards with 15 touchdowns in three seasons with the Hurricanes. Those numbers are very impressive, considering he redshirted his first year at UM.

“Obviously, Lamar Miller we drafted for a reason,” said Philbin. “We think highly of him. Think he’s going to be a good player in this league.”

In addition to Thomas, Miami’s offense may feel the absence of another player as wide receiver Anthony Armstrong missed practice on Thursday and Friday with a hamstring injury. He was listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game.

The Dolphins will also be missing defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, according to the team’s official injury report. He did not participate in practice from Wednesday to Friday, sitting out because of a knee injury. McDaniel is the backup defensive tackle behind Randy Starks. With McDaniel unable to play, the Dolphins will look to third string defensive tackle Ryan Baker for relief. The Dolphins signed Baker on Wednesday, knowing they’d need depth at that left defensive tackle spot.

The Raiders, meanwhile, will be without two key players of their own on Sunday.

Cornerback Ron Bartell and wide receiver Jacoby Ford both missed practice during the final three days of the week and both were listed as being out on the injury report. Bartell has a shoulder injury while Ford has a long recovery ahead of him after undergoing surgery on Tuesday to repair a joint in his left foot.

“There’s probably a strong possibility that he’ll go to injured reserve,” Oakland coach Dennis Allen said Thursday regarding Ford.

Therefore, the season is likely over for the 25-year-old who caught 19 passes for 279 yards for the Raiders in 2011. Ford was the third-string receiver behind Denarius Moore and Rod Streater. With Ford gone, the team still has five receivers on the roster.

Nevertheless, the question was asked if the Raiders would take a chance on one of the big-name veteran free-agent receivers out there, including Chad Johnson (formerly of the Dolphins), Terrell Owens or Plaxico Burress.

The short answer was no.

But here’s the long answer from Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie via the San Francisco Chronicle.

“It’s not just age,” McKenzie said. “We just didn’t feel that those three were the right ones, clear and simple. If I felt like they could have added something to what we were doing, I would have strongly considered it.”

As for Bartell, his absence on Sunday really hurts Oakland’s secondary, considering he’s their starting cornerback. The Raiders feel good about defensive back Pat Lee, whom they chose to fill in for Bartell and start against Miami.

“That’s what backup guys prepare for,” Lee said Thursday. “I’ve been playing all my life and it’s not a big deal to go in when somebody else goes down because that’s what we do. That’s why we’re here.”

The Miami Dolphins (0-1) will play host to the Oakland Raiders (0-1) on Sunday at 1:00pm eastern. You can watch full coverage of the matchup right here on CBS 4.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Dolphins news, see CBS Sports Miami.

Jeremiah Thermidor is a freelance writer covering all things Miami Dolphins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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