By Abraham Gutierrez
In the National Football League, the biggest difference between pretenders and contenders lies in the ability playoff-caliber teams possess to execute game plans consistently, and most of all, win the games they’re supposed to.
Enter the (2-4) Buffalo Bills, losers of two straight games and hobbled by injuries, as they take on a (3-2) Miami Dolphins squad hoping to reach the AFC’s upper echelon while dealing with personnel issues of their own coming off a bye week.
Sun Life Stadium in beautiful Miami Gardens, Fla. will serve as the backdrop for this pivotal AFC East divisional showdown. Opening kickoff is slated for Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET.
Game of musical chairs
Thanks to the extra rest, the Fins submitted their first injury report in the single-digits since the opening week of the 2013 NFL season.
While (WR) Brandon Gibson, (S) Don Jones, (CB) Nolan Carroll and (LB) Jonathan Freeny were exiled during the bye, for the nonce, key contributors are still nursing some injuries along with some new faces that have joined the Week 7 injury report party.
Dolphins Injury Report (Oct. 17)
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (Groin) – Limited practice: After being sidelined with a strained groin in week 1, Patterson is ready to resume his starting role. Although he’s listed as “questionable,” the seventh-year man is expected to take charge of a Miami secondary in desperate need of a veteran leader. Coming into week 7, the Fins defense rank 27th against the pass, surrendering 288 yards per game.
“I took advantage of the bye week,” he said. “I felt pretty good last Friday and I wanted to come out here [Monday] and get some things done. Obviously, I’m just going to take it slow and keep building. I felt good.”
Defensive End – Cameron Wake (Knee) – Limited practice: Listed as “questionable” in Sunday’s game against the Bills. Fins leading pass-rusher appeared to be moving much better because of the extra rest, and should once again be a factor coming out of the bye.
Wake is nursing the same knee sprain that forced him to sit out the (Sept. 30) game against the Saints and limited him versus the Ravens (Oct.6). Coincidentally, both of those games resulted in Fins losses following a perfect 3-0 start.
“At defensive end, you have to do a lot of torque, a lot of twisting, a lot of fast-twitching going on,” said Miami’s Pro Bowler this week during open media workouts. “Obviously your knee is a big part of that. … You have to do what you can to get it back. To me, playing the game at 100 percent is [best].”
Defensive End – Dion Jordan (Ankle) – Full practice: Miami’s third overall draft pick is listed as “probable” against the Bills this week at Sun Life Stadium. Jordan looks to become more involved in a defense that needs plenty of help pressuring opposing signal-callers. After a slow start, due to a shoulder injury, Dolphins fans can expect the Oregon product’s workload to increase significantly beginning this week against Buffalo.
Linebacker – Dannell Ellerbe (Shoulder) – Did not practice: Although he’s listed as “questionable”, it is almost certain that Dolphins’ starting middle linebacker will not see any action this week. Ellerbe, who’s optimistic about his chances coming out of the bye, injured himself against his former team in Miami’s 23-26 loss to Baltimore on Oct. 6.
“It’s coming along good. I’m healing well,” Ellerbe said after missing his third-straight practice on Wednesday. “I plan on playing.”
Linebacker – Koa Misi (Shoulder & knee) – Limited practice: After signing a 4-year, $17 million extension during the offseason, the seventh-year vet has spent more time in the training room than everyone envisioned coming out of training camp. He’s listed as “questionable” in Miami’s first game out of bye week, as he continues to struggle with the same knee and shoulder problems detailed in weeks 3 and 4.
Linebacker – Jason Trusnik (Rib) – Full practice: With Dannell Ellerbe on the mend, Fins head coach Joe Philbin will look for this seventh-year pro’s contributions on the field as well as taking some of his young teammates under his wing. Trusnik is listed as probable this week, as he will continue mentoring promising young rookie, Jelani Jenkins. The former fourth-round pick is expected to back up Trusnik in nickel packages on second and third downs.
“You are looking for playmakers,” Philbin said of Trusnik and Jenkins. “Whether it be a coverage tackle or if they make the correct block or if they hold up their man on the punt return, you’re looking for when they have their opportunities to do their job, they are doing it consistently.”
Safety – Chris Clemons (Knee) – Limited practice: The fifth-year man out of Clemson is listed as “questionable” against the Bills due to a balking knee. Clemons is fourth in the team in tackles with 24 (21 solo), and his veteran presence is something Miami’s secondary will be counting on as it kicks off AFC East intra-divisional play.
Did Not Practice (DNP)
- (LB) Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder)
- (CB) Dimitri Patterson (groin)
- (DE) Cameron Wake (knee)
- (LB) Koa Misi (shoulder/knee)
- (S) Chris Clemons (knee)
- (DE) Dion Jordan (ankle)
- (LB) Jason Trusnik (ribs)
Practice Status Key
- Did not participate in practice (DNP)
- Limited Participation in Practice: Less than 100 percent of a player’s normal repetitions
- Full Participation: 100 percent of a player’s normal repetitions
- Out: Player will not play
For more Dolphins news and updates, visit Dolphins Central.
Abe Gutierrez is a criminal justice admin whose love for sports led him to become a writer and editor. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com and its partners. His work can be found on Examiner.com. .