The Miami Dolphins practiced for the second time this week on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for Sunday’s home opener vs. the Atlanta Falcons. But for the second consecutive day, they were without two key members of the league’s third ranked scoring defense.
Paul Soliai, who went down with a knee injury in Indianapolis, and Chris Clemons, whose injury is unknown, were held out of the workout. It’s uncertain how much time each player will miss, but Soliai’s status for Sunday’s game appears doubtful, while Clemons is a huge question mark.
Soliai reportedly underwent an MRI earlier in the week, but those results have yet to be made public. Speculation seems to have it that his injury isn’t season threatening, though.
As for Clemons, the Dolphins’ starting free safety was one of three defenders who played every snap against the Colts. At no point during Sunday’s game did he leave because of injury. Chances are he must have tweaked something but never left the game, and playing on it only made whatever the injury is worse.
There’s no question, in my opinion, that Clemons’ absence would be felt more so than Soliai’s if both sit out Sunday’s game. Atlanta’s rushing attack isn’t much of a threat and starting running back Steven Jackson won’t play. Having two penetrating defensive tackles on the field in Jared Odrick and Randy Starks vs. one of the league’s most lethal passing games is ideal, anyway, regardless if Soliai is healthy or not.
But not having a speedster like Chris Clemons patrolling center field might be an issue. Clemons provides a security blanket over the top of Miami’s aggressive defense, and without him, the Falcons could be poised for even more big plays than they are accustomed to.
Jimmy Wilson, who was the starting nickel cornerback last week with Dimitri Patterson sidelined, would likely assume free safety duties if Clemons is a no-go.
On a positive note, the Dolphins’ cornerback position is returning to full strength. Starter Dimitri Patterson and rookies Jamar Taylor and Will Davis all practiced this afternoon for the second time this week.