Miami Dolphins

Nature of Stills' injury, Drake's biggest breakthrough and the quote of the day

Kenny Stills is not as limber as he was in the Falcons game on Oct. 15, 2017.
Kenny Stills is not as limber as he was in the Falcons game on Oct. 15, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The back injury that sent Kenny Stills to the locker room early Thursday also kept him out of practice on Friday.

He was not present during the period open to the media.

Stills told reporters Friday that he expects to play against the Buccaneers Sunday — even if Dolphins coach Adam Gase was a bit more cautious.

“Things are looking better than they were yesterday,” Gase said. “Kind of got going into practice and wasn't feeling right. So we pulled him out. Today, we're just trying to get him feeling a little bit better. We'll kind of see. We've got a couple of days still.”

If Stills suffers a setback and cannot play, the Dolphins will be without a player who has been on the field for 94 percent of the Dolphins’ offensive snaps in 2017. Stills has the highest usage rate of any non-lineman on Miami’s offense.

Stills was the only player absent for the start of practice Friday.

That means Ndamukong Suh was in uniform after missing Thursday’s practice with a pesky knee injury. He likewise is expected to play — which would keep his long streak intact. Suh has not missed a game because of an injury since 2011.

Still, Suh’s knee is something the Dolphins know they will have to manage for some time.

“Every week could be different for him [based on] how he’s feeling and whether or not we practice him,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “I know whatever he has, he’s giving it. When you play inside there, you’re going to take some nasty hits and get cut all of the time. It’s a tough position to play. He gets doubled almost every play. He’s trying to fight through some things and hopefully, as the season goes on, we can get him a little healthier and healthier every week. That’s why we try to give him as much time off from practice as we can, just to take a little bit off of him.”

When asked to explain Suh’s freakish durability, Gase responded: “I think a lot of it starts with the way that he trains. It starts in the spring when he goes up to Oregon. He’s unbelievable in his preparation during the week. You see him around all of the time. He’s always doing something. The day off, he’s the guy here early and he’s here for so long just doing things to make sure that his body’s ready to go on Sunday. It’s very impressive to witness.”

The Dolphins listed Stills, running back Senorise Perry (knee), defensive end William Hayes (knee) and safety Michael Thomas (knee) all as questionable for Sunday.

Dolphins' Kenny Stills talks about the Dolphins’ comeback win Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, his acrobatic catch early in the game as well as his two fourth quarter touchdown catches.

▪  Kenyan Drake exasperated Gase a year ago with errors the running back made as a rookie. But Gase said Drake has “made a lot of improvements really fast. The mistakes are way, way down.” More reps in both practice and games might be the reason for improvement, Gase added.

▪  Quote of the day from Gase, whose team has lost three straight: “This is the NFL. Every week it's disaster or you're the best team ever. You just keep plugging along.”

Miami Herald sportswriter Barry Jackson contributed to this report.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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