A pesky back injury kept Richard Marshall out of practice Thursday, increasing the possibility that the Dolphins’ already thin secondary will be without a starter Sunday.
Nolan Carroll, the Dolphins’ nickel back, replaced Marshall in base packages Thursday. While league rules prohibit reporting who practices in substitution packages, the Dolphins have few options.
Jimmy Wilson is listed as a safety but lined up at cornerback when Marshall left the Jets game. The only other logical option would be R.J. Stanford, who hasn’t played a snap on defense yet this season.
“Our coaches have always told us to prepare as [if] we’re the starter every single week, and if my number is called, do what I’m supposed to do,” Carroll said.
Just how dire is the situation if Marshall can’t go? Of the 149 players league-wide who have lined up at corner this season, no Dolphins player is ranked in the top 50, according to Pro Football Focus. On the four passes to have targeted Wilson’s coverage area, quarterbacks have a 136.5 rating.
That group will have its hands full this Sunday. Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald is one of the league’s best five receivers, cornerback Sean Smith said. With a monster game Sunday, Fitzgerald could go over 10,000 career receiving yards despite being in just his ninth season.
“It’s definitely a matchup problem,” Carroll said. “We’re going to try to match up with him the best we can, scheme-wise, and almost take him out of the game. Or at least try to slow him down.”
Bush doing better
The injury news was better for Reggie Bush.
After missing all of practice Wednesday with a left knee injury, Bush dressed and worked on a limited basis Thursday. Bush practiced some with the starting offense during the media viewing period of Thursday’s session.
When asked if Bush could play Sunday but not get as many carries as he normally would, coach Joe Philbin said: “It’s possible, sure. I wouldn’t want to rule any of that stuff out.”
Welcome back, refs
Word that the lockout had ended and the real referees will be back for Sunday’s game was met with universal approval in the Dolphins’ locker room.
“Thank God. These refs that they had, I’m not going to lie, were horrible,” Carroll said. “They clearly weren’t cut out for this type of level yet.”
Added Karlos Dansby: “I hope they’ve been on P90X. Training camp would have definitely helped.”
As for the botched call most believe pushed the referees’ union and the league to make a deal — the Hail Mary-that-really-wasn’t that decided the Packers-Seahawks game — everyone has an opinion, including Philbin’s wife, Diane.
“My wife told me at midnight or whenever the play came about, ‘They got robbed,’ ” Philbin said.
This and that
• Wide receiver Mark Clayton, cornerback Troy Vincent, coach Jimmy Johnson, defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger and kicking coach Doug Blevins were among the 127 nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2013, which was announced Thursday.
Nominees with marginal Dolphins ties included Cris Carter, Ron Jaworski, Gary Clark, George Young and Bobby Beathard.
• The Dolphins leave Friday for Phoenix, the first two-night road trip of Philbin’s head coaching career, which he called “a great test of our maturity.”