The Miami Dolphins secondary is no longer waiting for Richard Marshall to return from a back injury that has kept him off of the field since late September. Instead, the free agent acquisition was placed on the injured reserve list, and will not likely be back in the Dolphins line up this season.
Marshall, who has 18 tackles and one interception in four games as a Dolphin, has been bothered by what is rumored to be a blood clot in his back and had hoped the situation would resolve itself with time and rehab. Unfortunately this has not happened, and Marshall will need to have surgery.
Marshall had won the starting cornerback spot during training camp and was a solid addition to the Dolphins secondary. The fact that Jeff Ireland felt comfortable with the secondary enough to ship Vontae Davis to the Indianapolis Colts speaks volumes of the faith he and the coaching staff had in Marshall.
At this point, the team has played as many games without Marshall as they had with him, so moving forward the guys on the field will not likely change much. Sean Smith will be on one side of the field, with Nollan Carroll on the other, and Jimmy Wilson will probably remain as the nickel.
In light of losing Marshall to the IR, the Dolphins did sign Bryan McCann, making this his fourth team since coming into the league in 2010. Miami also claimed Brandon McDonald off of waivers after he had been waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the surface, neither player appears to be a game changer, but starting fresh in a new environment has been known to jumpstart guys in the past.
The secondary is going to need to do better than they did on Sunday when they gave up 433 yards to the Colt’s rookie quarterback, Andrew Luck. During that game there were several long plays down the field where the defenders clearly misplayed the ball, giving up a big play instead of a securing an easy interception.
The Dolphins have been playing much tough football, and have a shot at working their way into the playoffs this season. For Miami to make it into the January games, the secondary, as well as the rest of the defense, will need to play their best ball yet. The possibilities are there for the Dolphins. The question is, can the skill of the players become even with the will to win?
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.