DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) — As the Miami Dolphins continue preparing for their Week 5 game against the Green Bay Packers, the team is looking to be in its best shape of the young season.
Healthier than they’ve been since the season began, the Dolphins should benefit from a wave of reinforcements Sunday against Green Bay.
As many as six players might rejoin the starting lineup, and all practiced Monday when the Dolphins reconvened following their bye week.
Running back Knowshon Moreno practiced for the first time since he was sidelined by an elbow injury in Week 2. Also back are two starters expected to play Sunday for the first time this season, safety Reshad Jones and Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, whose comeback could involve a switch to guard.
Others returning from injuries are middle linebacker Koa Misi (ankle), defensive tackle Randy Starks (back) and guard Shelley Smith (knee).
“The bye came at a pretty good time,” receiver Mike Wallace said. “It’s going to be good for our team. We haven’t seen these guys together like this in a long time. I’m excited; I know our whole team is excited.”
Absent on Monday was reserve defensive lineman Derrick Shelby, suspended indefinitely in the wake of his weekend arrest on misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and trespassing at a nightclub. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan and receiver Brandon Gibson also sat out.
Even so, there was a dramatic net gain in manpower, which is especially welcome as the Dolphins (2-2) prepare for perhaps their toughest opponent so far. Green Bay (3-2) has won its past two games by a combined score of 80-27.
The reinforcements mean lots of depth-chart reshuffling this week.
“You want to get these guys up to speed as quickly as you possibly can,” coach Joe Philbin said. “Some look great, some not so much. We’ve got to see where they are and how much they can be used in a game.”
Moreno practiced with an elbow brace and said he’ll wear it in a game if necessary. His return buoys a ground game that has been a strength even in his absence.
“It felt good to get out there on the field and work out a little of the rust,” he said.
Moreno led the NFL with 134 yards rushing in Week 1.
Pouncey, returning from hip surgery in June, should help an offensive line that is much improved over last season. His replacement, Samson Satele, has played well enough to prompt speculation he’ll remain at center while Pouncey moves into the lineup at guard.
“Whatever position I’m playing, it’s going to be for the better of the team,” Pouncey said. “We’ll see. It’s coach Philbin’s decision.”
Pouncey played mostly guard for the Florida Gators but has been at center since being drafted by the Dolphins in 2011.
“Guard is my position,” Pouncey said. “I was kind of forced to play center when I got drafted here.”
The defense is getting a boost with the return of Misi, Starks and Jones, who was suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. Jones further strengthens a secondary that had three interceptions in its most recent game against Oakland.
“I’m going to be running around out there with my hair on fire,” Jones said. “That’s what I do. I’m a ball hawk. That’s what they look for me to do.”
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