After months of hand-wringing (mostly in the media), we finally have answers on the two biggest injury questions surrounding the Dolphins:
Branden Albert pledges to start and DeVante Parker (and everyone else) expects to play.
Which, incidentally, was the plan all along.
Albert, who has been peppered with questions about his reconstructed right knee since the spring, finally had enough of them Wednesday.
Asked again if he was starting, Albert responded:
“We all know the answer. I don’t think I have to say too much more. I’ve been starting with the first team all week. I’m going to continue. So there goes your answer.”
A few hours later, coach Joe Philbin confirmed that Albert would indeed be in the lineup.
“He’s absolutely full-go,” Philbin said. “He’s progressed on a daily basis. Like I said when we started out, we’ll do what’s best for the team, best for Branden Albert. We’ve communicated with him and he’s communicated with us throughout the entire process. We feel like it’s the best decision for the team.”
Albert hasn’t played since tearing his right ACL and MCL in Miami’s ninth game last November against Detroit. His return is doubly timely, considering backup left tackle Jason Fox still has not been cleared to play after suffering a concussion nearly three weeks ago. Fox did not practice Wednesday.
As for Parker, he’s a bit curious as to why there’s even a question about his availability. The rookie wide receiver played in the final preseason game, logging nine snaps, and his surgically repaired foot has felt fine since. Others in the locker room expect him to play as well.
Parker is listed as the backup to Greg Jennings on the team’s first depth chart. The Dolphins are expected to keep at least five receivers active on Sunday — and all five should see action from scrimmage.
“We have talent all over the field, and to finally to be getting almost everyone back is very exciting for me and the offense in general,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “When we have as many playmakers as we do, it creates a lot of options for you, and you’re able to spread the ball around and create tough matchups on the defense.”
Both Parker and Albert participated fully in practice Wednesday, according to the first injury report of the year.
SUH’S PLAYING TIME
There has been much discussion around team headquarters this week about just how much the Dolphins plan to use Ndamukong Suh this season.
He was on the field for 82 percent of the Lions’ defensive snaps last year, but the Dolphins have traditionally rotated their defensive tackles (and kept five on the roster this year).
For his part, Suh said he takes pride in rarely being on the bench.
“That’s what my offseason workouts are all about, working with my guy back in Portland on campus,” Suh said. “It’s important for me to be, one, on the field all the time, always be available. I’ve always understood that as a young kid wanting to be good at my position, whether that was basketball, football, track. You always want to be available.”
Suh added: “That’s a huge thing I pride myself on and I’m my own worst enemy. I like being on the football field. I like playing. I like being a part of every single opportunity to go out there and make a play and have an impact on the game. So for me, I have to be smart and always understand there is diminishing returns, but, at the end of the day, I love being on the field, I love playing as hard and as fast as I can.”
ODDS AND ENDS
▪ The Dolphins made a point to practice in the rain Wednesday, perhaps in preparation for an iffy weather forecast Sunday in Landover, Maryland. There’s a 60 percent of rain with temperatures in the mid-70s.
▪ Redskins coach Jay Gruden on Wednesday called Tannehill “one of the most improved quarterbacks in the NFL.”