The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots released official injury reports on Friday detailing which players are injured and the probability of each injured player suiting up for a key AFC East showdown with playoff implications.
The Dolphins were forced to place cornerback Dimitri Patterson on injured reserve earlier in the week, and center Mike Pouncey and punter Brandon Fields each missed one practice in preparation for New England for non-injury related reasons. But Miami’s injury report is about as clean as it’s been all season otherwise.
Only the availability of safety Reshad Jones (groin) and cornerback Jamar Taylor (hamstring) is in doubt. According to various reports, both players are expected to play on Sunday baring any setbacks, though.
Obviously, the potential but reportedly not likely absence of Jones is the greater concern for Miami. Jones is in the midst of a disappointing campaign to say the least after signing a four-year, $29.3 million extension back in August. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones is ranked as the NFL‘s 78th most efficient safety out of 87 eligible players at the position.
But his loss could certainly still be detrimental against the Patriots. The Dolphins don’t possess a backup safety with any substantial regular-season experience which means they would likely be relegated to moving nickel cornerback Jimmy Wilson back to his old position.
Wilson has been solid covering the slot in 2013 for the Dolphins. Tom Brady loves to pick coverages apart by targeting his slot receivers, so Wilson’s coverage will be needed at the nickel on Sunday. If Jones is held out, Miami’s secondary might become a shell of its healthy self.
Additionally for Miami, cornerback Nolan Carroll (hamstring), safety Chris Clemons (knee), punter Brandon Fields (personal reason), left guard Nate Garner (ribs), running back Lamar Miller (concussion) and defensive tackle Paul Soliai (ankle) will all likely play.
For the Patriots, cornerback Kyle Arrington (groin), offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle), cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder), wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot), tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (knee), offensive tackle Nate Solder (concussion), linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee), offensive tackle Will Svitek (ankle) and wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) are all listed as “questionable.”
It’s tough to get a feel for how accurate any of the Patriots’ injury reports are since Bill Belichick likes to utilize some gamesmanship by exaggerating some of his players’ injuries. One thing is for sure, though: the Patriots are banged up along the offensive line and at wide receiver.
After having already lost former starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer for the season, both of the Patriots’ current starting tackles are nursing injuries at the moment. Solder has started every game this season for New England at left tackle but suffered a concussion this past Sunday. Meanwhile at right tackle, Cannon has missed the past two weeks with an injured ankle. Svitek is the primary backup but his status is also in doubt for Sunday.
If either Solder or Cannon miss this game or isn’t at 100 percent, the Patriots could have a difficult time containing the Dolphins’ formidable pass rush led by defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon.
After losing star tight end Rob Gronkowski for the rest of the season last week, the Patriots will need their remaining assortment of pass catchers to step up down the stretch. Wide receivers Dobson and Thompkins could both miss Sunday’s game. The two have combined to produce 958 receiving yards in 2013, so their absence would further aid an already stingy Dolphins pass defense.
Also for New England, wide receiver Danny Amendola (groin), quarterback Tom Brady (shoulder), safety Steve Gregory (finger), wide receiver Matthew Slater (wrist), cornerback Aqib Talib (hip) and running back Shane Vereen (wrist) are all expected to play.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.