Branden Albert won’t play this Sunday.
And next Sunday doesn’t look promising, either.
Albert, the veteran tackle who dislocated his wrist on Sunday, has already been ruled out for the Rams game, the team announced Wednesday. But a league source tells the Miami Herald that it’s likely Albert will miss multiple games. The Dolphins host the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 27.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase would not give a time frame for Albert’s return, saying at the team’s resort Wednesday that “I haven’t gotten into that with [the medical staff]. I tried avoiding asking.”
Gase wouldn’t rule out any options — surgery or otherwise — for Albert, but said that the expectation is his left tackle would play again in 2016.
At the very least, Albert will miss his third game of the season.
The 2015 Pro Bowler dealt with illness and an ankle injury earlier in the season. The Dolphins were 0-2 in the games he sat out.
With Albert out, Laremy Tunsil will shift from left guard to left tackle. Kraig Urbik filled in at left guard after Tunsil moved over Sunday. Either Urbik or Anthony Steen will start at left guard Sunday. “I think everything’s up in the air right now,” Gase said.
It’s not like the Dolphins are going against a junior varsity defense Sunday. The Rams are absolutely stout up front. Aaron Donald is an “elite defensive tackle,” Ndamukong Suh said. If Robert Quinn is healthy enough from the non-football illness that sent him to the hospital, he’ll be a handful for Tunsil.
The Rams rank second in total defense (327 yards per game) and are 10th in points allowed (19.2).
“We know we have a big test ahead of us, especially with this front,” Gase said. “It’s going to be a challenge, considering we played four teams with really good fronts, and this might be the best one that we’re about to face.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill insisted he has confidence in the five players who will line up in front of him Sunday.
Granted, he’s said that before when Albert has missed time, and ended up black and blue. That was the case Sunday; the Chargers hit him eight times. Tannehill spent a half-hour in the ice tub after the game to numb the pain.
But part of the reason the Dolphins aren’t panicking is Tunsil is probably a better tackle than guard — and that’s saying something.
He was a left tackle at Mississippi, and might have been the No. 1 pick in the draft if not for his off-field issues.
“He has no concern,” Gase said. “We feel comfortable with him out there. … I know when he bumps out to left tackle, that’s like riding a bike for him.”
He’ll probably ride that bike for the rest of the month, if not longer.
Albert’s teammates marveled that he was able to play at all after getting injured Sunday. Albert popped the dislocated wrist back in, wrapped it up, and finished the game.
“It says a lot about him,” James said. “I already knew that about BA. He’s a tough guy. He loves football. We always challenge each other like, ‘We’ve got to have each other’s back.’ And we came out there like, ‘I couldn’t leave you hanging out there. After the game, I’ll see what I have to do.’ ”
Brave? No doubt. But how wise?
If Albert isn’t healthy enough to play a full week after the dislocation, how was he healthy enough to play an hour after getting injured?
“I think he really just gutted it out,” Gase said. “I’m sure that wasn’t comfortable by any means. But he did not want to leave those guys; he didn’t want to leave that group. … Obviously after the game, the body’s going to react to kind of what had happened to him. It swells up and it changes things for the next week. It happens a lot of times with other kinds of injuries as well.”