When Dolphins coach Adam Gase is flat-out miserable, about the only player who can bring a smile to his face is Reshad Jones.
Gase often favorably compares Jones with four-time all-pro Brian Dawkins.
So you can imagine how Gase is doing this week, at the bottom of the AFC East and knowing that Jones might not play Sunday against one of the NFL’s premier offenses.
Jones, Miami’s Pro Bowl safety, sustained a groin injury in recent days and did not practice Wednesday. And he probably won’t practice Thursday or Friday either.
Never miss a local story.
As for Jones’ availability for Sunday against the Steelers?
“A game-time decision,” Gase said.
Jones is in real danger of missing his first game for any reason other than suspension since the 2011 season.
And it’s not like the Dolphins were playing well with him in the lineup. They rank 28th in total defense, allowing 23.8 points per game.
So add that to Gase’s growing rock pile as he tries to get his first season as an NFL coach back on the rails.
▪ Tight end Jordan Cameron remains in the concussion protocol and will not play Sunday.
▪ Cornerback Xavien Howard is still weeks away from seeing the field after hurting his knee last week.
▪ And the offensive line has been so bad, the Dolphins this week tried to add by subtraction.
On Tuesday, they said goodbye to two — Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner — and replaced them with just Sam Young.
The decision to cut Thomas and Turner sent shock waves through the locker room. Both were third-round picks. Both started Sunday.
But in the hours after Sunday’s Titans game — when Ryan Tannehill was sacked six times — the Dolphins’ brain trust decided they had seen enough. By Tuesday, Thomas and Turner were gone.
“We’re doing our evaluation process on some guys and on certain guys and felt like it was time to make a change,” Gase said, adding that the moves were performance-based.
Gase demurred when asked if he cut Turner and Thomas to send a message. But if it had that unintended effect, so be it.
“Anytime you let guys who were here in the past go, it sends a message loud and clear — we’ve got to go out and get the job done,” guard Jermon Bushrod said. “We’re paid to win games and if we’re not winning and things unfortunately things like that happen. I’ve seen it, I’ve been through it, I’ve seen a lot of friends go. You have to put your head down and go to work.”
Said running back Arian Foster: “I’ve always been of the mind-set that upstairs, they’re looking for somebody else to replace you every single day, and it’s your job to have them not do that.”
Foster spoke to reporters before dressing for practice Wednesday. He has missed the past three games with groin and hamstring injuries, but the Dolphins were optimistic enough about his chances to play Sunday that they also cut Isaiah Pead, Miami’s fifth running back.
Plus, the offensive line’s health is improving.
Left tackle Branden Albert practiced fully and wasn’t even on the injury report after missing Sunday’s game because of an illness.
And his protegé, Laremy Tunsil, worked on a limited basis Wednesday. Tunsil sustained a freak ankle injury in the shower Sunday morning and could not go against the Titans.
The team will monitor Tunsil’s health through the week before deciding whether he will play Sunday.
Yet how exactly Tunsil fell Sunday morning remains a mystery — even to his coach.
“I didn’t want to get too deep with him on it. I just know he didn’t play on Sunday,” Gase said. “I started asking him, then I was like, ‘I don’t want to know. I just know you didn’t play.’ ”