As Channing Crowders practice absences became customary late in the preseason, inside linebacker Tim Dobbins was asked if he would feel comfortable starting in Crowders place if the season opener were the next day.
Of course, Dobbins replied.
Sunday in the season opener in Buffalo, the Dolphins will find out if Dobbins confidence is warranted, as well as if they can have continued confidence in him next week in Minnesota.
What the Dolphins officially call a groin injury sidelined Crowder for Sunday he didnt even make the trip -- just as its kept him out of pads for over two weeks. Injuries to the torso core tend to nag like a testy spouse.
Dont think the Dolphins didnt have this possibility in mind when they acquired Dobbins as an add-on in the draft day first round spot swap with San Diego. Crowders missed nine of the last 44 regular season games before Sunday and Dobbins started 10 games for San Diego over the last two seasons as a 3-4 inside linebacker.
Dobbins said his responsibilities here have been the same except in San Diego, he was the guy making the original defensive call in the huddle. With the Dolphins, Karlos Dansby takes that responsibility.
He makes the calls, I call the strength and we both call out the adjustments on the offense, Dobbins said. He does his thing on his side, I do my thing on my side.
Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell said last week, Hes going a good job. He knows what to do. Im sure there are things he could learn. Hes learning on the fly, and, for the most part, hes got everything down. Ill just say he doesnt see things as quickly as Channing does. Thats one thing we miss with Channing. At the same time, Tims everywhere hes supposed to be.
What Bell referenced most people dismiss when it comes to evaluating Crowder hes one of the smartest players on the Dolphins, something other players and Dolphins coach Tony Sparano will tell those who bother to ask. The willingness to be a loud trash-talker throwing off snaps like a stand-up at the Improv obscures that the Dolphins value Crowders brain most of all.
In the last eight games Crowders missed, the Dolphins defense has allowed 27.4 points per game, 159.8 rushing yards per game and 404.0 total yards per game. In that span, Crowders only made one interception, recovered one fumbled and forced one fumble.
Even though his numbers arent in forced fumbles, things like that, he makes plays for everybody else, Bell said. He gets everybody else where theyre supposed to be. He might fill a gap where someone else is supposed to be to help somebody make the tackle.