Dolphins Don’t Have Any Major Injury Concerns Heading Into Thursday Night’s AFC East Showdown
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By Jeremiah Thermidor
Miami receiver Davone Bess missed practice on Tuesday, but for non-football related reasons. He’s one of the team’s most dependable receivers, contributing significantly in every matchup and has remained healthy all season. Through the nine games he’s started this year, he’s just one-yard shy of tying the total receiving yards he accumulated in 2011 (536). He’s also on pace to break his single-season receiving yardage mark of 820 set in 2010. Bess, who performs best working out of the slot, has done well playing out wide a bit more this year. He’s definitely someone who can change the pace of a game if he is targeted often. Considering Miami QB Ryan Tannehill had problems finding open receivers in last Sunday’s loss to Tennessee, the team could certainly use a guy like Bess, who has good hands, to step up and give the rookie someone he can count on to make difficult catches.
Wide receiver Jabar Gaffney (Knee) and tight end Jeron Mastrud (hamstring) were both limited in practice on Tuesday. Gaffney, who participated in the full practice session on Monday, is likely to play in Thursday night’s game against Buffalo, but perhaps in a limited role. Since making his debut against the Jets in Week 8, Gaffney has caught four passes for 68 yards. His production thus far has pleased Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin.
“I think he is making progress,” Philbin said when asked late last week how Gaffney has begun to compliment the other receivers. “He runs routes pretty smooth and he understands how to get open. I see him developing no question.” Gaffney is a guy with the potential to have a breakout performance this week, depending on how his knee in feeling by game timek
Linebacker Karlos Dansby (bicep), receiver Brian Hartline (knee), defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (knee), linebacker Koa Misi (Calf), receiver Marlon Moore (Neck), Center Mike Pouncey (knee/ankle), defensive tackle Paul Soliai (Ankle/Elbow) and defensive end Olivier Vernon (knee) all fully participated in practice on Tuesday and will most likely see action in the game. A receiver the Dolphins absolutely need to stay healthy is Hartline who has caught 16 passes for 186 yards during the last two contests. He went through a bit of a slump a few weeks earlier but has bounced back and is definitely someone who can make a significant impact on Thursday.
As for the Bills, defensive end Mark Anderson (knee), running back Fred Jackson (concussion), defensive end Chris Kelsay (neck) and cornerback Aaron Williams (knee) all missed practice this week and likely won’t play in the matchup. Jackson most certainly won’t play. The Bills have already decided start C.J. Spiller in his place. Spiller is a player Miami recognizes will be hard to stop, considering his sheer talent, his ability to find open gaps and make big plays with ease.
“He’s elusive number one, so you have to break down, you have to have balance and you’ve got to be decisive when you got to tackle this guy and you’ve got to wrap him up,” Philbin said on Tuesday. “If you miss him, he’s got the speed to go the distance, so it’s a challenge, no question about it.”
Buffalo players limited in practice on Tuesday included defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (shoulder/hamstring), defensive tackle Spencer Johnson (ankle), cornerback Leodis McKelvin (groin), guard Andy Levitre (knee), cornerback Justin Rodgers (knee), receiver Brad Smith (hamstring), defensive tackle Kyle Williams (ankle) and center Eric Wood (knee). A few of those players could be questionable heading into the matchup, but out of that group the Bills would definitely push to play a guy like Dareus who is one of their better pass rushers.
Tackle Chris Hairston (knee), safety Da’Norris Searcy (hand), running back C.J. Spiller (shoulder) and defensive end Mario Williams (wrist/knee) all participated in practice in full on Tuesday and are all expected to play in the matchup.
The Buffalo Bills (3-6) will play host to the Miami Dolphins (4-5) on Thursday at 8:20 p.m. Eastern.
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Jeremiah Thermidor is a freelance writer covering all things Miami Dolphins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.