Thanks to the Dolphins’ new practice schedule, in which the team conducts on field workouts on Tuesday afternoons — traditionally a day off for NFL teams — instead of Thursdays, there was no actual practice in Davie today.
But per league rules, the Dolphins were forced to release an injury report anyway.
There is only one change to the updated report, and it involves starting cornerback Dimitri Patterson. Patterson, who missed Sunday’s game in Indianapolis with a groin injury, was downgraded from limited in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday to out today.
That means, if the Dolphins actually practiced today, Patterson wouldn’t have. And that is discouraging news for his prospects of returning to the lineup on Sunday and for the Dolphins’ chances of beating the pass happy Falcons in Week 3.
Julio Jones — an emerging superstar at receiver for Atlanta — lines up on the left side of the Falcons’ offensive formation frequently, meaning Patterson would have likely been the one assigned with covering him when the Dolphins were in their base defense.
If Patterson doesn’t play, Nolan Carroll would assume that responsibility for the majority of snaps Jones lines up to quarterback Matt Ryan’s left. Carroll has graded out exceptionally well through two games, according to Pro Football Focus, but Jones has the ability to expose him as the weak link of Miami’s secondary.
In addition to his starting boundary role, Patterson is also the Dolphins’ starting nickel corner, moving inside to cover the slot when Miami’s defense employs formations with five or more defensive backs. With Patterson sidelined last week, Jimmy Wilson moved over from safety to handle that task.
That scenario won’t be as simple this week, though. Wilson is primarily Chris Clemons’ backup at free safety. And, as you probably know, Clemons has missed every day of practice this week and might not be able to play on Sunday.
So, if Patterson and Clemons are out, the Dolphins will be in quite the predicament. They could choose to start Wilson at the nickel again with reserve safety Kelcie McCray taking over at free safety or they could give the starting safety keys to Wilson and find a new nickel cornerback, which, looking at the Dolphins’ limited options, could be rookie Will Davis (if he plays), R.J. Stanford or perhaps safety Don Jones.
To complicate the matter further, Jimmy Wilson, the versatile defensive back who makes the Dolphins’ options so perplexing in the first place, has been limited at practice this week with a groin injury.
If he doesn’t go, what then?
If somehow Wilson, Patterson and Clemons all miss Sunday’s game, it’s almost certain rookie Will Davis, who is also still limited with a toe injury, would be thrown into the fire, either on the boundary or slot, and cornerback R.J. Stanford and safety Kelcie McCray would have extensive roles.
An unlikely scenario, yes. But after all systems appeared go for Patterson last week before he was pulled from the lineup on Sunday morning, the Dolphins would be wise to be prepared for anything against the Falcons.
Wasn’t Atlanta supposed to be the team that was all banged up?